This isn’t a contest, exactly, but more a question to the huddled masses. Mrs. R., who is Italian, was asking me the other day what the Yiddish word Mitvah meant. It turns out it isn’t a Yiddish word (it’s Hebrew) and while it has some kind of religious meaning about fulfilling commandments, I’m not into religious meanings so I told her the colloquial meaning: doing a good deed or a kindness, or an act of kindness. Maybe it has a one word English equivalent, but it’s still a pretty good single word for an idea that usually takes more words in English. So we started talking about other words that have come into English that are of the same ilk. The word I thought of first was one I learned from Mrs. R.’s Italian-American culture and that I am now hearing quite a bit from teeny boppers and their immediate elders. The word is shkeeve, which is Italian-American slang for being disgusted by something, sort of like finding it “icky” or being repelled by it (“I wouldn’t use the toilet in his house. I shkeeved.”). Mrs. R. says there is an implication of germs but it has now been appropriated in all sorts of ways. The other day I heard two young women (19 or 20 years old), quite clearly not Italian American (and given the demographics of the neighborhood, probably Irish American), saying one to the other, “He shkeeves me out.” I use the word, too. It seems to express something I can’t find an equivalent for in English. Shkeeve is slang but apparently comes from the Italian word for disgust, schifo.
So here’s the question: what words with origins in languages other than English do you find expressing thoughts, ideas, things, emotions, reactions that don’t seem to have an English equivalent? I’m not talking about word origins. I’m talking about actual borrowed words. Like shkeeve.