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13 Tagalog Words You Just Can’t Translate in English

13 Tagalog Words You Just Can’t Translate in English

Read Time: 4 minutes

They just don’t mean the same



Have you ever had a balikbayan or foreign national over at your place and found yourself unable to find an English counterpart for the following Tagalog words? We feel you. It’s happened to the best and most articulate of us. So just in case you have some Pinoy jargon-explaining to do, this might come in handy.




What it means: Tagalog slang that’s short for best friend but can be used to address anyone and everyone. Also synonymous to ‘friend,’ ‘sis’ and ‘te.’ Also, ‘besh,’ ‘beshies,’ ‘best,’ ‘besht.’

How to use: Ganda mo today bes!



What it means: Can mean anything. Usually used at the end of a sentence to express exaggeration or to tell a joke. Other variations include, echoschozcheka (pronounced che-kuh), chieeek (pronounced cheek).

How to use: Crush niya kasi ako, chos!



What it means: Used to describe all sorts and levels of romantic feelings, i.e., butterflies in one’s stomach, romantic bliss, in a state of cloud nine, etc.

How to use: Nag-text na siya, I’m so kilig!



What it means: Originally a hashtag, hugot is a Pinoy word that expresses deep emotions, secret feelings or sentiments. Can be used along with a song lyrics, quote or social media status.

How to use: Saw your Facebook status, daming hugot



What it means: Essentially means unlucky or unfortunate in the love department.

How to use: Lahat kinakasal, ako lang ba ang sawi?!



What it means: What you feel when you’re unhappy about what your S.O., friend or relative did but you’re not exactly angry with them either.

How to use: I’m tampo you didn’t go to my birthday



What it means: Can literally mean ‘enough’ but is more often used in place of things or feelings you just can’t express.

How to use: Ay, basta!



What it means: A term that combines affection, sweetness and tenderness.

How to use: He always holds my hand, lambing niya ‘no?



What it means: Lang literally means ‘only’ but when used with the word wala (nothing), it expresses feelings or thoughts you just can’t put into words.

How to use it:

You: Beach tayo

Friend: Ano meron?

You: Wala lang



What it means: The feeling you get when you want to pinch someone because of severe cuteness or inis (a state of feeling annoyed or angry).

How to use it: Ang cute ng dog mo, nakaka-gigil!



What it means: Used to describe someone annoying but can also be used in a positive way. In which case, it means funny or playful.

How to use it: Kulit ng jokes mo!



What it means: A term used to describe someone tacky or who likes things that are masa. Can be positive or negative, depending on context.

How to use: Ang cool niya, she can be sosyal or jologs



What it means: More negative than positive, harot means mischievous or boisterous, or in verb form, to flirt with someone intensely or excessively.

How to use: Masiyado ka touchy, harot mo girl



Have other words to add? Send us a message!



Art Alexandra Lara

About The Author

Calm & Domesticated AF. Work experience includes, TV and events but mostly media and publishing. Switched to marketing for a telco brand somewhere in between, but back to doing what I do best: content and magazines.

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