Once people start to travel more again, it’ll be important you understand how these nine English words could cause you embarrassment in other countries.
These are words that you should never use. They’re considered offensive and could get you into trouble.
If you want to avoid being labeled as an ignorant tourist, avoid these nine words at all costs.
While you may be well-intentioned, if you are in Germany and tell someone you want to give them a “gift,” you are actually telling them you want to provide them with “poison.” Why? Because in the German language, “gift” means “poison.” So if someone hands you something with the word “gift” on it, you may want to think twice about opening it.
Next time you’re in Great Britain, try complimenting someone about their pants and see what happens. Even though Americans and Brits share a language in Great Britain, the word “pants” actually refers to underwear over there, while “trousers” is the word used for what Americans call “pants.”
If you’re in France and are trying to win points with a pretty lady, you avoid telling her she has a pretty face. The reason? The word pronounced “face” (spelled “fesse”) in French means “buttock.” So unless you’re going to be that direct, you should be sure to know how embarrassing your compliment may actually be.
Two countries have very different meanings for the English word “preservative.” If you’re looking for healthy organic food without preservatives in Russia or France, you’ll find something unexpected. In Russian (“prezervativ”) and French (“preservatif”), a preservative is a condom. So, next time you go shopping in either country, make sure you know what you’re asking for.
Recently, “fanny packs” have been making a come back in the United States. However, before you start asking around for a fanny pack in the United Kingdom, be sure to know what you’re asking for. While the term “fanny” in the United States refers to someone’s rear end, it is a euphemism for the female genitalia in the U.K.
While you may be wanting to refer to a door handle, using the word “knob” in the United Kingdom will get you a few strange looks. This is because in the U.K., the word “knob” is a slang term for male genitalia. On the other hand, you won’t run into any problems when referring to a doorknob in America.
In French, the word “bite” is pronounced “beet.” Unfortunately, the French version is very different from the English word. It’s because “bite” means male genitalia in France. So if you’re looking for the vegetable version in the store, you may want to use a different word.
The English word “kiss” is extremely close to the Swedish word “kissa.” However, their meanings couldn’t be further apart. If you ask for a “kiss” in Sweeden, you are actually asking to urinate. So next time you’re traveling through Sweden, make sure you understand exactly what you’re saying!
While you may be expressing your love of the gentle mist in the air, if you were to use this expression in Germany, the locals would hear an entirely different message. In German, the word “mist” roughly translates as “manure.” Unless you’re expressing your desire to be walking through a mist of manure, you may want to adjust your terminology.