15 Hindi Words You Can't Translate Into English, Ever

Some Hindi words can never be translated into English | © Eric Laurent / Flickr
Some Hindi words can never be translated into English | © Eric Laurent / Flickr
Photo of Aditi Mukherjee
23 December 2017

Although Hindi and English come from the same family of Indo-European languages, there are Hindi words that can never be literally translated into English. Complex feelings, spiritual experiences, colloquial slangs and more, you can only attempt to explain or describe these beautiful words. Here are 15 Hindi words that you can’t translate into English, ever.

Dhaba (ḍhābā)

Dhaba is a Hindi word used to describe a roadside eatery. Mostly seen on highways in India, a typical dhaba would have cots and cane chairs as seating arrangements and would serve comfort food.

Dhabas are usually found on national or state highways in India | © Scott Dexter / Flickr

Jootha (jūṭhā)

This Hindi word refers to an item that has been used or touched by someone else with their mouth. For example, if a person eats with a spoon and another uses it later, the second person to use the spoon is using the first person’s ‘jootha’. Jootha is a cultural concept and something that should not be practiced as per certain religious beliefs in India.

Jootha is a cultural concept | © Drew Coffman / Unsplash

Kanyadaan (kanyādān)

Kanyadaan is a Hindi word that describes a ritual performed at Hindu weddings, usually by the bride’s father, that basically means giving his daughter away to the groom.

Kanyadaan is a Hindu wedding ritual | © Priyambada Nath / Flickr

Rakhi (rākhī)

Rakhi is the Hindi word for a wristband or a string that sisters tie around their brothers’ wrists. It’s a symbol of love from a sister to her brother and a promise by a brother to protect his sister, no matter what.

Jigyasa (jijñāsā)

Jigyasa has many meanings in Hindi. Depending on the way it’s used, it could mean demand, doubt, curiosity or inquisitiveness.

Moksh (moksha)

Moksha is a spiritual term in Hinduism and Jainism. It means to be free of the cycle of rebirth due to the law of karma. The higher state attained by self above life is moksha.

To receive moksha is to be free of the cycle of birth | © Benjamin Balázs / Unsplash

Rimjhim (rimajhima)

Rimjhim is a colloquial Hindi word used to describe rain. It loosely translates to drizzle or a light shower. But rimjhim has more to do with the joy and happiness that comes with rain and monsoons.

Rimjhim describes the joy rain brings | © Mike Kotsch / Unsplash


The Hindi slang kalmooha (male) or kalmoohi (female) is used as a negative adjective for a person who is good for nothing, stupid or even considered bad luck.

Ghamasan (ghamasān)

In Hindi, ghamasan can be described as something devastating, extremely serious or to explain how deeply awry something is.

Jijivisha (jijivishā)

Jijivisha means the intense desire to live and to continue living to the fullest in the highest sense of being.

Jijivisha describes the intense desire to live | © Andressa Voltolini / Unsplash


Indriya means to control all five senses. It could loosely be used to express one’s desire to control temptations.

Ghataa (ghaṭā)

Metaphorically, ghataa means dark, heavy clouds. It expresses the feeling of a heart heavy with grief or pain.

A heavy heart could be described metaphorically as dark, heavy clouds | © Anirudh Ganapathy / Unsplash

Adda (aḍḍā)

Adda is simply a place where friends gather to spend time and have fun. An adda is a place where you’d meet your friends every day or regularly. It could be a restaurant or even a street corner.

A place where you and your friends spend time frequently | © Cole Hutson / Unsplash

Rasa (rāsa)

While talking of performance arts, dance form, theatre or cinema, rasa is a form of communication with coordinated movements of the eyes, feet and vocal chords to express emotions and tell a story that reaches the audience.


Jugaad (jugād)

Jugaad is a colloquial Hindi word that means to find the least expensive solution to something or a make-do solution to a problem.

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