Greek Words that Are Difficult to Translate to English

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When it comes to learning a language, it is certainly makes things easy to be able to translate words into your native language so that you can better understand them. However, languages are complex, and they directly relate to the cultures that are associated with them. Because of this, not every word is easy to translate. The Greek language has plenty of these, and fully understanding them can really help you enhance your knowledge. Here are some of the most common words:

Φιλοξενία – Filoksenia

In Greek, Φιλο (filo) is a word that expresses the type of love you would feel for a good friend and ξενία (ksenia) means stranger, or foreigner. Basically, the word expresses the idea of extending the hand of friendship (in a loving way) to a stranger or foreigner. There is no equivalent word in the English language, but this is an idea that is a big part of the Greek culture.

Για πάρτη μου – Ya Parti Mou

Even though the Greek people are happy to extend the hand of friendship to a stranger, they also are quick to acknowledge that their own needs come first. Για πάρτη μου  (Ya Parti Mou) expresses that very concept. Directly translated into English, the phrase means, “for me”. However, it is used when the individual wants to express the idea of “treating yourself” well.

Φιλότιμο – Filotimo

Friendship is important in Greece, and the concepts and ideals surrounding friendship are taken very seriously. As a result of that, words like Φιλότιμο (Filotimo) seek to explain some important concepts related to friendship. In Greek, Φιλό means “friendship love” and τιμο comes from τιμή, which means honor. This is a word that describes honor and truth and friendship, and basically expresses a sense of loyalty to one another.

As you can see, these words and phrases are difficult to translate directly into the English language because there are no equivalent words. It is only possible to understand them by explaining the meanings. These words are highly colloquial and it is important to fully understand the meanings before you use them.


The Learn Greek section on GreekBoston.com was written by Greeks to help people understand the conversational basics of the Greek language. This article is not a substitute for a professional Greek learning program, but a helpful resource for people wanting to learn simple communication in Greek.

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