bilingual poetry

Inspiring Words from Other Languages That Will Add Emotion to Your Poetry

Like most art, poetry helps us summon emotion—usually in a condensed form. However, how many times have you wanted to convey a big idea or a thought but still ended up with a lengthy sentence? All writers face this challenge every now and then. Still, there is a solution to your problem—words from other languages that convey the same meaning in fewer characters.     


Poets create with words. So why not use words from a variety of languages? Not only can they improve your work, but they can also enhance your readers’ experience. By using non-English words, your poetry will flourish in sound, rhythm, and vocabulary. Below, I have gathered a couple of words from different languages and their meanings that you can integrate into your work.  


French Words 

Astre: a word used to describe something otherworldly. It is another word for étoile (“star”), yet astre does not mean “star.” It is a term that can denote an “angel” or “planet.” 

Chuchoter: this is a mysterious and seductive word. Chuchoter signifies “whisper.” 

Dépaysement: some kind of disorientation one feels of not being in one’s country. 

Flâneur: a term to describe an individual who loves a wonderful roam without thinking about anything. The only important thing is to appreciate and absorb the atmosphere of a place. 

Frileux: such a lovely word to manifest the feeling of someone who is sensitive to the cold. 

Râler: permanent displeasure with the world. 

Regard: makes an allusion to the expression of someone’s eyes. It has a similarity with the English word “gaze.” It means a presence that is only expressed by the eyes.       

Retrouvailles: the contentment of meeting a person you care profoundly for, but whom you have not seen in a long time.   

Spleen: the sensation that arises from a deep sentiment of discouragement. In English spleen is a malice temper and an anatomical definition.


Italian Words 

Crepuscolo: a beautiful word for the instance when the skyline has a color gradation. It is equivalent to the Portuguese one “crepúsculo.”   

Crepitio: the sound of the burning logs and the rustling of leaves.   

Culaccino: the stain that a wet glass leaves on a table.     

Gattara: I love this one. It can be understood as a “cat lady.” A gattara is an elderly woman who cherishes the street cats by feeding them.   

Lacrima: such a marvelous one. It is the action of crying, the tear. 

Meriggiare: escaping the heat of the midday sun by resting in the shade. 

Mozzafiato: when you lose your breath because something is stunning.    

Struggimento: a good word for us poets. It suggests pain and desire as if they were one. Pain affected by desire, desire affected by pain.    

Stellato: a sky full of stars.  

Scrosciare: the act of waves hitting cliffs or of rain pouring down.


Norwegian Words 

Døgn: a word for the day and night, together. 

Forelsket: the feeling of falling in love.  

Friluftsliv: enjoying and exploring nature.   

Fæn: expressing self-failure.   

Godværsvenn: a person who claims to be your friend, but will leave you when you are having difficult times.  

Ildsjel: it is used to define a person who is vigorous about a certain cause. 

Koselig: having a cozy moment.  

Kjærlighet: when you need to evoke a close bond.  

Oppholdsvær: the weather after the rain has stopped.  

Verdensrommet: the interstellar.


Portuguese Words 

Chaga: a wound, emotional or physical.     

Desabafo: a conversation where one talks about one’s problems. 

Desnudado: being naked. It is often used to emphasize the vulnerability of the soul in poetry.      

Fado: a music style characteristic of Portugal.   

Incendiado: burned or, metaphorical, when you are enthusiastic.         

Outrora: the past.    

Rosto: the visage of a person or an animal.     

Saudade: in the core of it there are various emotions, such as melancholy and longing. You can apply it to anything you miss. 

Segredar: murmur in a lower voice, like a secret.   

Suspiro: a sigh of relief, delight, or lament.     


Languages are more than a conjunction of words. They have meanings rooted in their culture. There are many others to explore and to bring to your poetry. I leave you with three more: kaajhuab (Hmong) is an early light that dissolves morning mist, gluggaveour (Icelandic) is weather best enjoyed through a window, and finally, dauwtrappen (Dutch) is to walk barefoot through morning grass.