Beautiful words can be found in any language, not just English. Some words sound nice and are aesthetically pleasing, while others might not sound great, but have beautiful definitions. So, for any fellow logophiles (lover of words) out there, I’ve compiled this list of beautiful word definitions. Words from many different languages that have lovely meanings, including Scandinavian, English, German, Japanese, Greek, and more. You may have heard some of these words previously, but not known the exact meaning, or the words could be completely new to you. But I hope the list will serve to increase your vocabulary, and even give you the chance to show off to your friends by knowing some unusual words and what they mean.
The Japanese are perhaps arguably the king of beautiful words. Many cannot be directly translated into English, but have truly beautiful and inspiring definitions, rooted deeply in Japanese culture and philosophy. So let’s start there…
This Japanese word translates as “Forest bathing,” and is very much ingrained in the Japanese culture. It’s the act of spending time in the forest, enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the wonderful green light that shines through the trees. With the busy lives we lead these days, it’s maybe something we should all try to do more!
Komorebi goes hand in hand with shinrin-yoku. While you’re partaking in forestbathing make sure you enjoy the moment when the sunlight filters through the leaves on the trees, flooding the forest with a magical green light,
Pronunciation: wah-bee sah-bee
Wabi-sabi is a Japanese way of living that focuses in finding beauty in imperfection. It’s accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay, and realising that nothing lasts and nothing is perfect; the appreciation of a deeper beauty. It’s the opposite of what we are used to in the West, where everything is expected to be beautiful and perfectly finished.
Natsukashii is when something from the past evokes a happy memory.
Intrinsic in Japanese culture, Itadakimasu is said before every meal. Similar to The Grace being said in the West, but with a much deeper meaning. Itadakimasu is not just said to give thanks for the food you’re about to eat, but also the work that has gone into growing and preparing the food. From the farmer who grew and harvested the food, to the cook who prepared the food you’re about to eat.
Another dining related word. I imagine many of you have thought about this concept before, but never knew there was an actual word for it. Betsubara is the second stomach your body has that is reserved especially for desserts. Used when you are too full to eat anymore of your main course, but you can always find room for dessert!
Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy that means “A reason for being.” It’s the thing that gets you up in the morning, gives you a sense of purpose in life and a feeling of well-being.
Tsundoku is something many of us are guilty of, I know that I am! It’s the act of buying books that you never read, which just end up piled up on shelves, often going unread.
Close behind the Japanese on my list of countries with beautiful words are the Scandinavians.
Sisu means to show strength and determination in the face of extreme adversity. Courage and tenacity is shown in situations where success may seem unlikely. It’s definitely something that many have shown during the pandemic.
Koselig is a feeling of contentment and happiness, experienced in a cozy and warm atmosphere with other people. Koselig is Norway’s version of Denmark’s Hygge. But it differs to hygge as it embraces more of a feeling of togetherness, sharing the coziness with others.
Hygge is a warm feeling of coziness and well-being. It is being contented with life’s simple pleasures; living in the moment and enjoying every day.
Resfeber means travel fever. It’s the restless race of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins, when feelings of excitement and nervousness are tangled together.
Fika is something that many of us do, or at least should do on a regular basis. It’s taking a moment to slow down and enjoy a cup of coffee and sweet treats, whether it be along or with a friend.
Another coziness related Scandinavian word. This time is the turn of the Swedish, with their word for being cozy and content, while engaging in a comfortable or pleasurable activity.
Livsnjutare is someone who loves life deeply and lives it to the extreme.
Lagom is the Swedish for not too much; not too little; just the perfect balance.
Moving onto the Greeks, who have more than their fair share of words with beautiful meanings.
A thalassophile is someone who loves the ocean and the sea.
Metanoia is a spiritual conversion; the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, or way of life.
Meraki is to put something of yourself into what you are doing. To do it with soul, creativity or love.
Strikhedonia is something we all like to do whenever possible. It’s the joy of being able to say “To hell with it!”
Eunoia is a pure and well-balanced mind that shows kindness and goodwill to others.
Eudaimonia is the highest good for human beings. It’s being in a contented state of happiness, health and prosperity.
An English word that means events that happen by chance, in a happy or beneficial way.
A querencia is a place where one feels safe and at home. It’s the place where your strength of character is drawn from.
I’m definitely one of these! Translated as “Cloud-walker.” A nefelibata is someone who lives in the clouds of their own imagination or dreams.
Fernweh is a craving for travel, something that I’m sure many of you experience regularly. It’s a “far sickness,” an ache to explore distant places that you’ve never visited before.
Wanderlust is pretty much what it says on the tin – a strong desire to wander, or travel and explore the world.
So, what are you favorite beautiful words? Do you have any that aren’t listed above? Let us know in the comments below!
All of our beautiful word definition prints, including many more that aren’t shown above are available in our store, either as printable downloads or prints.