There are ‘feel good’ terms in foreign languages that boost morale on those wet, windy and wintry months when your get up and go feels like it left the room ages ago.

Here’s a few of our favourite warm and fuzzy words and phrases in foreign languages. In fact, some of them are so popular they’ve infiltrated the English language and it’s likely you might be familiar with them –

  • Denmark (and Norway) – Hygge

Visit Denmark paints a picture of Scandinavian idyll, explaining, “…hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cosying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life.”

  • Italy – La Dolce Vita

There couldn’t be many foreign languages better suited than Italian for coming up with an iconic phrase encapsulating a carefree lifestyle. The Dictionary interprets it as “a life of indolence and self-indulgence.” Its definition conjures up images from Federico Fellini’s legendary movie, centred around a lead character with a ‘devil may care’ hedonistic attitude to life.

  • Japan – Ikigai

Of all the ‘feel good’ phrases in foreign languages, the Japanese dig deeper into the meaning of life. Erin Eathough told the BetterUp wellbeing platform, “Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being.’ ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ describes value or worth. Your ikigai is your life purpose or your bliss. It’s what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day.”

  • Sweden – Fredagsmy

Sweden’s fredagsmys is a literal interpretation of ‘cosy Friday’. Maddy Savage does a great job of drawing us in to this taco-munching phenomenon, describing, “Instead of staying late at the office, or going out for drinks with colleagues, fredagsmys is about embracing a softer end to the working week, by heading home early… Families usually watch TV or a movie together, with blankets and candles…

She continued, “A study for a food delivery firm last year suggested 98% of Swedes enjoy fredagsmys at least once a month, and the majority would choose a ‘cosy Friday’ above any other activity, including a gig, a cinema night, exercising and even sex.”


At La Academia, we eat, sleep, live and breathe foreign languages. They’ve made us happy for years. Our happiness is fuelled seeing new windows on the world opening up for our amazing students learning foreign languages.


Fredagsmys: The unlikely symbol of Sweden’s ‘cosy Friday’, Maddy Savage, BBC Worklife

What is hygge? Visit Denmark

What is ikigai and how can it change my life? Erin Eatough PHD, BetterUp