1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

5 untranslatable European terms for joy

Antje Binder ad
August 21, 2018

What makes people happy? That differs from country to country. And that's why different languages have different words for it.

Symbolbild Solidarität Zusammenhalt
Image: Imago/fotoimedia

In the tiny Himalayan state of Bhutan, the pursuit of happiness became a part of the country's constitution more than 30 years ago. The country even officially measures the degree of happiness of its citizens.

Read more: A look at what makes Germans happy

Happiest up north

The UN's annual World Happiness Report has similar objectives. Among the factors that count for the ranking of 156 countries are economic well-being, life expectancy, corruption, transparency and freedom.

The 2018 edition was topped not by Bhutan, but by Finland. According to the study, citizens there enjoy long life expectancies, societal generosity and a lack of corruption.

Following Finland are Norway and Denmark, often in the top three.  

Those seeking more happiness in their life may consider moving to Scandinavia. But why are people happier there? A possible answer could be that people are happier about simple things.

They even have special words for describing joy. In Denmark, for example, there is the term "arbejdsglæde." Swedes can start the day with "gökotta," while Norwegians end it with "utepils." 

Curious about the precise meaning of these strange words? Check out our High Five ranking.