17 Made-up Words You’ll Want to Add to Your Vocabulary

Sometimes, there are feelings or situations we simply cannot describe. Therefore, given our expertise in languages and the fact we express ourselves and communicate through them, we decided to share 17 made-up words you can add to your vocabulary.

So you’re never at a loss for words.


  1. Spaghettata (Italian) n.

All of a sudden, your whole family has gathered around for dinner at your place and you have no idea what to cook. How about a spaghettata?

This Italian word simply describes a spontaneous and impromptu spaghetti dish, served with everyone at the table.


   2.  Torschlusspanik (German) n.

We’ve all gone through it, without a doubt. Either because all our friends have been to Paris, have the perfect career, found their ideal match or seem to have already achieved all their goals. If you feel “a door is closing”, you have Torschlusspanik. But don’t worry – everyone does.

  1. Frankenfood (English) n.

When we eat an oddly wax-coated apple or watery, huge, tasteless strawberries, we may be eating genetically modified food, the so-called “frankenfood”.

  1. Hangry (English) adj.

No matter how “hangry” we are – hungry + angry – we must avoid such food!

  1. Treppenwitz (German) n. / L’esprit d’escalier (French) n. 

Used in German (“staircase wit”) and French (“staircase spirit / wit”), this expression describes the moment when we think of a good answer, joke or comeback… and it’s too late. The best thing to do is go upstairs and forget it; the opportunity was missed.

  1. Weltschmerz n. and lebensmüde adj. 

When we feel fatigued or disenchanted with the state of the world, that is Weltschmerz (“world pain”), which leaves us extremely lebensmüde (“weary of life”).

  1. Tutear (Spanish) v.

This verb means to address someone using the colloquial singular 2nd person “tú” pronoun, instead of the alternative formal one – “usted”. This difference is not apparent in English, hence its untranslatable nature.

  1. Apericena (Italian) n. 

Coined in the 90s, this expression combines the words aperitivo and cena (“starter” and “dinner”), describing a night outing in which you can enjoy small dishes with friends. 

  1. Dépaysement (French) n. / Fernweh (German) n. 

Dépaysement (“uncountryness”) and Fernweh (“farsickness”) describe the same feeling: the desire to alter your routine, have a change of scenery and travel the world; a similar expression: Wanderlust.

  1. Gaslighting (English) n. 

Used since 1960 in the field of psychology to designate a type of manipulation, the term has its origin in Patrick Hamilton’s play titled Gas Light (1932) and subsequent film adaptations. In the play, a husband tries to convince his wife and other people that she is crazy, by manipulating small elements of their environment, insisting that she is wrong every time she points out the changes. The title alludes to how the husband dims the gas lights in their home.

  1. L’appel du vide (French) n. 

Literally, the “call of the void”. This expression describes the urge of, for example, wanting to jump from a very high place, like a cliff, or cross a busy street. Although it may seem odd, a given amount of intrusive thoughts is completely normal and experienced by everyone. However, it is serious when it comes to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).

  1. Pantofolaio (Italian) n. 

When we just want to stay at home, relaxing with slippers (pantofole) on our feet, we’re pantofolai.

  1. Verschlimmbessern (German) v.

This verb is perfect for saying we have made something worse (verschlimmern) while trying to make it better (verbessern).

  1. Concuñado (Spanish) n. 

A noun referring to one’s brother-in-law’s brother.

  1. Abbiocco (Italian) n. 

This Italian expression denotes the drowsiness that takes hold of us after lunch or dinner and to which we simply give in.

  1. Mansplaining (English) v. / Herrklären (German) v.

In both languages, a compound combining the words “man” and “explain”, designating a man’s act of explaining something to a woman in a condescending and often inaccurate or simplified way, especially when it comes to matters in which said woman is an expert.

The English term originated in the book Men Explain Things to Me (2014) by Rebecca Solnit. Although the term was never mentioned in the book, it was popularized on the Internet because of it.

  1. Nostalgie de la boue (French) n. 

This expression was coined by poet Emilie Augier in 1855 and means “longing for the mud”. In other words, wanting a simpler life than the one we have. A classic example: Roman historian Tacitus wrote about emperor Nero’s liking for wandering the streets of the capital dressed as a slave, robbing and attacking people with his friends.

That concludes our list. Which of these expressions will you add to your vocabulary? Share them with Letrário!

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