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17 Must Know Tagalog Words With No English Translations


Precy enjoys helping others learn to speak and appreciate the Filipino and Ilocano language. She also writes about Filipino culture.

Weird Filipino Words

Weird Filipino Words

With over 7000 islands waiting to be explored, beaches yet to be discovered and new friendships waiting to be developed, and add to it the beautiful culture, the Philippines is indeed a hot spot. But of course language is essential. Learning the language adds up to the adventure. Basic words and phrases might not be hard to learn but what about those that doesn't have the exact English translation? Worry not, below is a list of the most used weird Filipino or Tagalog words with no English translation that you'll likely encounter.

Let's have more than 15 weird Filipino words and see what each means. Most on this list aren't mentioned yet on other weird Tagalog words you'll find online and it's more likely you've heard few of these. Fluent and want to add more meaning to some? Feel free to do so.


1. Namamahay

Have you spent the night over to someone else's home, or maybe it's your first night in your new home and you're having a hard time falling sleep? Let's say it is a comfortable place but it's just that feeling of not being in the home you got used to. The word miss isn't quite the right word. And no, it is not insomnia.

From the word bahay, or home, namamahay is that feeling of being not used to a new or another home.


2. Bagong salta

A word used for someone being new to a place or town. Bagong salta, or new to the area, being new in the block.

3. Lilinga linga

When you're looking for someone but having a hard time finding them so you keep looking around scanning the surroundings with the hope of finding them.


4. Tangay

A word for pet owners -- when your pet carries stuff and walks or runs away with it. Yes, that's your word. But this isn't only used for pets but for a person who runs away with something not theirs.

5. Basta

Don't ask why. It is what it is. No questions ask. Just do as I say. Basta. The word could also mean that whatever was mentioned is of finality, it was final and no explanation should be given why the decision was made. It is used as well when one simply can't explain or doesn't want to spend the energy to answer questions about what the speaker said or the decision made.

Angel: I've made up my mind. I'll change my course, I'll take culinary instead.

Friends: Why is that?

Angel: Basta.

6. Papak

As Filipinos, or most if not all, eat rice and the main dish which is called ulam, eating just with the main dish without rice is called papak.


7. Puwing

We all had experienced this. It makes you teary-eyed as you try to get rid of whatever got into your eye/s -- puwing.


8. Abirya

Have you heard this word used? It doesn't have an exact English translation but this word has to do with something which happened unexpectedly, a problem, or a setback resulting in a delay or cancellation of what was planned.

A: I thought you're going to visit your friend in the next town with Albert.

B: Yes. We're already on our way there but -- nagkaabirya. We got a flat tire.

B: We'll just go tomorrow instead.


9. Kalumbaba

Having a bad day or just in a deep thought? Or maybe you just woke up and trying to gather your thoughts and you did this -- kalumbaba is when you rest your face or chin on either one or both palm of your hands.

10. Amos

It is not dirt. Not the exact word equivalent for it.

It is that piece of food or whatever you're eating that got in your face. Have you seen a baby's face while eating with foods all over her cute, little face? Amos.


11. Panghi

The word stink isn't the exact English translation for this as it has it's own exact Tagalog equivalent -- baho. Have you ever used a restroom that smells because it isn't always flushed right after used and the smell of urine lingers? There goes the word for it - panghi.


12. Anghit

Another word that has something to do with unwanted smell. Don't forget to apply deodorant or else you'll get this unwanted body odor from your underarm. Yes, you got it right. Anghit.


13. Hirin

Eating too fast? Don't. Or else you'll find yourself reaching for a glass of water to help push down the food in your throat because you're dealing with this - hirin.


14. Pasalubong

This one is so common and even non-Filipinos do this a lot. Have you been away for a few days or so in a trip or vacation? And you brought snacks, souvenirs, and other items with you when you got back home for family and friends? Those are your pasalubong for them.

Pasalubong doesn't always have to be an item from your vacation, it could be anything as well for someone at home from your simple grocery trip.

15. Laylay

Clothes or dress too big, you're sitting down and it's hanging on the floor? Laylay is the word for it.

Another example just today, was my four-legged nephew sleeping on the couch with his head hanging on the edge -- laylay.


16. Gigil

One of the most used amongst these weird Tagalog words with no English translation. Gigil is that unexplainable feeling of wanting to squeeze someone's cheeks who is adorably cute, prompting you to do just what you feel -- squeezing their chubby cheeks or nose, giving tight hugs, or a kiss on the cheek.

17. Tinga

You need to floss because of this, and of course to practice good dental hygiene. That food particle stuck between your teeth -- tinga.

Poll Time!

Weird Tagalog Words With No English Translation

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Dipali Ingle from Nandura on February 11, 2020:

What is the word there for souvenir???

Thelma Alberts from Germany on March 21, 2017:

Number 2, 6, 9, 10 and 13 are new words to me. Maybe because I am Bisayan. Thanks for the heads up.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on March 21, 2017:

I use a lot of these words on a daily basis. Language is very dynamic and like other language ours captures part of our culture. And it continuously morph.

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