Thursday, July 17th — Mamihlapinatapai

July 17, 2008

(thanks to EDD over at for this one)

Today I Learned…

…a new word.  Mamihlapinatapai, from Yaghan — a language spoken on Tierra del Fuego (one of my favorite place names in the world).  It is listed as the most succinct word in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records, and it is also one of the hardest words to translate to English.  According to the Wikipedia entry on the word, it means “a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start.”


One Response to “Thursday, July 17th — Mamihlapinatapai”

  1. Alex Says:

    I love that word so much. Can’t use it in conversation, though, since I don’t like the idea of explaining it every time I do…

    I’m not sure how to pronounce it, though – I’ve been using “mahm-ih-lahp-in-a-t(i)p-eh”, but the Wikipedia breakdown of the word suggests it might be “mahm-is-lah-pee-nn-at-up-eh”.

    I hope I’m right, because then I can make haiku.

    An awkward moment
    No sex now, I guess

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