Words About Words

I love words!

I love thinking about words and learning their meanings.  I love the subtle differences between almost-synonyms.

Here are Albanian words that have sparked my interest, my affection or my disdain…


Bashkëtingëllore (bash-kuh-ting-uh-lorr-eh) — Bashkëtingëllore, the word for both the noun and the verb consonant, is a double winner!  First, it’s simply fun to say.  Second, its components tell the story: bashkë  means together and  tingëllore means ringing/chiming/sounding/tinkling.

Bubullimë (boo-boo-leehm) A great onomotapeia word.  Bubullimë means thunder.

Gazmore (gahz-mor-eh) — Gazmore means hilarious/joyful and also joke. I like it because I picture someone inhaling helium.

Hund (hoond) Hund means nose.  I picture a hound dog sniffing whenever I hear it.

Luleshtrythe (loo-leh-shtroo-the) The first Albanian word I ever fell in love with!  It means strawberry and is simply lovely to say.

Mërzitë (mer-zeet) — This word drives me crazy.  I know that Albanian has fewer words than English and, as a result, the language lacks some of the nuance of English.  But, seriously (?!), a word that means both upset and bored?  Mërzitë is the verb — it means bother/bore/nag/annoy/disgruntle/vex.  Mërzitje is a noun that means boredom/ annoyance/frustration.  Mërzitshëm is the adjective; it means dull/bothersome/boring/annoying.  I spend a lot of time thinking about this word because I don’t understand how it came to have such disparate meanings.

Nxjerr (ehndz-yehr) — This word gives mërzitë a run for its money. It’s a verb with at least 25 different meanings, most of which revolve around the idea of something emerging or being pushed out, but that have very different connotations.  For example, nxjerr can mean: exhale, emit, spit, extrude, stick out, unearth, liberate, secrete, excrete, discharge, utter, release, leak, pop, puff and pull.  It also can mean hatch, hustle, display, distil, infer and evolve.  Mërzitë and nxjerr give you a sense of the overall lack of precision in the Albanian language. For example, the word mësoj means both teach and learn.

Thashethem (thash-eh-thehm) Thashethem means gossip.  What makes it fun is that thash and them are forms of the verb to say.  In essence, thashethem means I said and you say.

Stilolaps (stee-low-lahps) Ballpoint pen; it’s just fun to say.

Zhurmshëm (zhurm (as in treasure)-shum) — Another onomatopoeia word: it means noisy.  I picture bees buzzing whenever I hear it.