6 interesting foreign phrases to describe your lockdown life

Last month, nobody could stop talking about the Finnish concept of Kalsarikännit, “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear – with no intention of going out.”

It summed up lockdown perfectly, all the while showcasing the beauty of the Finnish language and making Friday evenings getting peacefully sozzled all the more appealing and accepted.

But the Finns aren’t the only ones with quirky, quarantine-appropriate concepts. The Italians, for example, refer to rekindling an old flame as ‘reheating cabbage’ – not exactly the image you had in mind when contemplating sliding into your ex’s DMs, eh?

And in Hungary, a nagging spouse is, somewhat colourfully, an ‘indoor dragon’. How many of you have your own ‘indoor dragon’ to contend with at the moment?

I can’t guarantee these will come in handy on future backpacking adventures or city breaks, but here are six foreign terms that aptly describe the #lockdownlife.

For when you’re feeling lazy

It’s totally fine to not be doing a lot at the moment. Remember, there is a pandemic going on – so even if you feel like you should be baking enough banana bread to feed the whole of Yorkshire or running a half marathon every day, it’s also fine to be a couch potato – or ‘pantofolaio.’

  1. Pantofolaio

You can use the Italian term ‘pantofolaio’ to describe a couch potato or homebody. A noun first used in the 19th century, it comes from the word ‘pantofola’ meaning ‘slipper’.

An example in action:

“Ho provato a farlo uscire, ma è diventato un tale pantofolaio.”

“I tried to make him come out, but he’s become such a homebody!”

It’s difficult to be anything but a couch potato at the moment – so why not look the part? If you do fancy upping your slipper game in true ‘pantofolaio’ style, apparently >slider slippers are all the rage right now.

pantofolaio

  1. Fiaca

‘Fiaca’ comes from Lunfardo, a slang that originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s used to talk about “the feeling or state of being bored, idle, slothful of unmotivated” and when we use it to describe a person, we’d translate it as lazybones, layabout or bum.

An example in action:

“Qué fiaca que tengo!”

“Man, I feel like a slug today!”

This is something we’re all experiencing: trudging from bed to desk to fridge and back to desk, flicking through Netflix to find something binge-worthy, all the while ignoring the towering inferno of work, emails and deadlines piling up. ‘Fiaca’ is the ultimate killer of productivity.

For describing relationships

It’s a weird time for relationships – both romantic and non-romantic alike. Some haven’t seen their parents or partners or friends in months; others might find themselves house-sharing with an ‘indoor dragon.’

  1. Házisárkány

This is a Hungarian word literally meaning ‘indoor dragon’ and used to refer to a nagging, restless spouse. If you’re not used to sharing a house with your significant other, tensions might be high during this period. It may be you find yourself (or your partner) morphing into a mythical beast, breathing fire upon seeing plates piling up in the sink or socks strewn across the floor.

An example in action:

“A házisárkány soha nincs megelégedve.”

“A domestic dragon is never satisfied.”

Catch Budapest describes it as “a harmless joke” and strongly recommend that we keep treating it as such.

  1. Cavoli Riscaldati

The Italians use ‘cavoli riscaldati’ (literally meaning reheated cabbage) to talk about “a pointless attempt to revive a former love affair”. According to Christopher Moore, author of In Other Words, it comes from a proverb:

“Cavoli riscaldati né amore ritornato non fu mai buono.”

“Neither reheated cabbage nor revived love is ever any good.”

Interestingly, some parts of Italy use ‘minestra riscaldata’ or ‘zuppa riscaldata’ (reheated soup) instead of ‘cavoli riscaldati’.

Essentially, the idea is that nothing will ever taste as good when reheated. How many of you have thought about reaching out to your exes during lockdown? Snap. But now all I can think about is how I deserve much more than just reheated cabbage. Maybe some Waitrose kale or pretty pink lettuce from Harrods instead.

cabbage

For those early mornings and late nights

Arguably, we’re probably saving a lot more money by not buying as much coffee during lockdown – but that doesn’t mean to say we’re drinking any less.

  1. Tretår

‘Tretår’ comes from Swedish, literally meaning a ‘threefill’ – a second refill of a cup of coffee. Hardly surprising the Swedes have a word for this – according to the Telegraph, they were the sixth biggest coffee drinkers in the world in 2017.

Language Insight says ‘tretår’ is likely to be used on a Monday morning to help kick off the working week.

Despite no longer needing to get up at 6am and commute for two hours, my caffeine intake has sky-rocketed during lockdown. I’ve upped my daily dosage from one to two and sometimes three cups to get me through the day.

This is down to a mixture of boredom, comfort (everything just feels cosier when you’re clutching a hot brew, doesn’t it?) and also because it’s from my own stash and therefore free. Knowing how much I must have saved by not forking out on overpriced lattes on Tottenham Court Road makes my Nescafe taste just that little bit better.

tretar

  1. Nedoperepil (недоперепил)

‘Nedoperepil’ is a past tense verb used by the Russians “to say that someone has drunk more than they should have, but still less than they could have (or wanted to)”, according to Lingua Lift.

Searching for further clarity, I also consulted Wiktionary: “to have too much to drink, but to be unsatisfied and want to drink more; to be drunk, but not blacked out (literally, ‘to underoverdrink’)”.

If you’re out in a bar and the barista refuses to serve you, you can say:

“Но я же недоперепил!”

“But I haven’t yet drunk as much as I can!”

Seems like the perfect balance, right? Merrily sozzled but not sozzled enough to pass out and not remember anything – plus, it doesn’t always result in a hangover. ‘Underoverdrinking’ could very well become the nation’s new pastime.

The fact Russia has a word for this is mind-blowing – and to be honest, not totally surprising.

2 thoughts on “6 interesting foreign phrases to describe your lockdown life”

  1. Out of curiosity – where did you get the Italian expressions from? 🙂

    “Pantofolaio” is spot on, but it’s the first time I hear talking of “reheated cabbage” (normally is “minestra riscaldata” – I’ve been asking friends from other parts of Italy but so far they all still confirm “minestra” even in their area).

    Really curious 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Laura! I can’t remember exactly which sites I looked at, but it was a range of different language-focused articles. I did read on a few that there are different variations for cavoli riscaldati – including minestra! Maybe it’s more common to say minestra then?

      Like

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