12 English Words With Very Different Meanings In Other Languages

English. It is generally accepted as the most used language in the world. However, the language can be confusing. People genuinely lose their collective sh*t if, for instance, you use the English spelling of a word instead of the US iteration, and we should know!

What can cause even greater confusion, however, is when a commonly used English word has a different meaning in another language. Chaos and confusion would inevitably ensue if you were to make this grave error. Fret not, we have you covered. Here is a list of English words that have very different meanings in other languages.


1. “Smoking”.

In French, the word smoking means tuxedo. This does make some sense, the French are a notoriously suave and debonair race of people and smoking and high fashion are two key elements of French society.


2. “Gift”.

In German, the word gift means poison. For the petrified few amongst you don’t worry. Be careful from now, though, if your German frenemies offer you a gift.


3. “Pepperoni”.

In Italian, the word pepperoni means chilli pepper. Not only will you thank us for not burning your mouth from the spice. The person cleaning the bathroom you use the next morning will also be eternally grateful.

4. “Brat”.

In Russian, the word brat means brother. This explains a lot. Russian gangster rap has long been a source of confusion in the office. When we are breaking it down to Trash-Shaptio Kach (Trash tent QUALITY) or if we are feeling a lil old school, Mnogotochie (Ellipsis), we now know they are talking about their brothers rather than a bunch of rambunctious youths they had seemingly odd relationships with.


5. “Kiss”.

In Swedish, the word kiss means pee. This brings back haunting memories of our staff trip to Uppsala. Put it this way, no matter how attractive the guy is, or how striking his eyes that are as blue as a clear summer day’s sky, do NOT listen to him when he says he wants to kiss you all over your body.


6. “Sean Bean”.

In Irish, the words sean bean mean old woman. There are regions in Ireland where Irish, or gaelic, is the only spoken language. These regions are called “gaeltachts”. If you ever find yourself in one of these regions, if you dislike the British actor Sean Bean be careful how you word it. Although pronounced very differently, Irish men in particular are very close to their mammies. Any confusion about someone insulting an Irishman’s mother could end badly.

7. “Mist”.

In German, the word mist means manure. Ever wondered why your German friends look at you sideways when you say you love a nice misty morning and how you love immersing yourself in said mist. Now you know. You’re basically saying to them you love sh*t and love immersing yourself in sh*t.


8. “Air”.

In Indonesian, the word air means water. This is not as bad as some others on this list. Although, a native English speaker might struggle teaching science in Indonesia.


9. “Barf”.

In Hindi, Urdu and Farsi, the word barf means snow. While we all love a good snow day filled with snowmen and snowball fights, things are very different in regions where the predominant language is Hindi, Urdu and Farsi. Very, very different.

10. “Vader.”

In Dutch, vader means father. So The Empire Strikes Back probably didn’t have the same shock ending in The Netherlands as it had in most other countries.


11. “Crap”.

In Romanian, the word crap means carp. Look, we were thinking it too – this looks incredibly lazy. Basically, the gist of this story is that if someone asks you to go fishing for crap in Romania – they are not talking about taking a trip to the thrift shop.


12. “Trombone”.

In French, trombone means paperclip. Cancel those trombone lessons. Your attempt to impress Manon – the incredibly sexy and musical French exchange student – by playing the trombone because she always talked about how she loves them and how handy they are. The girl loves paperclips. Who doesn’t? They are a fantastic way to organize your paperwork.

Languages, they’re all very confusing…