The Filipino language spans 170 with Tagalog being the official language usually spoken in the country’s capital, Metro Manila. Other dialects that are spoken in various parts of the country include, Cebuano, Boholano, Bicolano, Ilocano, Negrense, and many more. Tagalog alone is quite tricky to learn since conjugation of words is not the same as learning romantic languages like French or Spanish. Tagalog contains a vast vocabulary of words which appear to be genderless and can often change when using irregular verbs.
There are also a couple of Filipino words spoken as jargon or slang as general lingo that have no direct translation in the English language, truly encapsulating the way locals speak. Below are a few words that are better translated by action and behaviors widely used by locals engaging in casual conversation.
10 Filipino Words that are Untranslatable
Kilig is a verb used to describe the way one feels when seeing or encountering someone that gives you “butterflies in your stomach.” It’s often used in the context of romance, flirting, courting, and relationships. Kilig is also triggered by body language, from eye contact, light touching, and facial expressions like a wink or smile from you crush or lover.
This is the feeling in between being angry and disappointed which is usually used when a person’s body language shifts to throwing tantrums or being “butthurt” per se. This is a word often used by parents or adults who deal with children who often are transparent with their emotions when upset.
Basta can be synonymous to “enough” but doesn’t directly capture the entirety of the word. It’s usually adapted into a conversation or petty argument between people who have nothing left to add to his or her point, thus adding basta after an unfinished thought. It’s used in a way that dismisses a situation or argument out of mere frustration or when one is just “done” with a particular subject.
This word is best described through body language when people are taken by something adorable or cute, like babies and puppies for example. It’s a word that is often associated with “eagerness” and “urge”, often directed towards physically invigorating desire to pinch a baby’s fat cheeks or kiss a young labrador’s nose.
This Filipino word hails from a superstition that many older folks believe to be the reason why some children are sick or suffering from a certain illness when greeted or complimented by certain strangers. Usog is synonymous to a light “curse” that could affect the energy or aura of a person, specifically young children.
This is probably a slang term used a lot by several Filipinos who engage in a lively conversation. It’s an expression usually said to someone who just experienced something amazing or impressive. Naks is also a form of playful teasing and often used in the context of a joke or salutation.
Torpe is a term to describe a person who exhibits extremely shy behavior to express or pursue amorous desires. It’s often associated with the pursuit of courting or flirting with people dating.
This term is often associated with aggression and eagerness. It’s a verb that is usually used when a person is seen devouring a meal with the utmost excitement and speed.
Umay is a feeling associated with the feeling of being too satiated or full of doing something over and over again. It’s often used when one eats the same dish over and over again to the point of being sick of it. It’s also applicable to activities or deeds often done repetitively.
A word often used as a noun synonymous to “pajamas” or any comfortable set of clothes usually worn just at home and never in public.
Practice makes perfect
Using these words in casual conversations or sentences is the norm for those learning Tagalog. These words mentioned above are often flexible in terms of grammar and doesn’t always have a proper conjugation or alteration which makes the words that fall under slang lingo. The Filipino language is beautiful and can be a challenge to learn for foreigners, but staying focused and practicing it with locals and Filipinos are a sure way to help you improve your Tagalog in no time. Whether you’re traveling to the Philippines for a vacation or living in the country for a few years, picking up a couple of Tagalog words won’t hurt and can actually help improve morale with other Pinoys.