'False friends' are words that look or sound familiar but have a totally different meaning from the one you think they have. Here are 20 you really need to watch out for...
See the Dutch advertisement above? It's advertising biscuits and the child is actually saying "Mama, that one, that one, that one” – but it's a bit misleading for the uninformed reader! The word die is actually pronounced differently in both English and Dutch, but if you’re just starting out, it easy to see how the mistake can be made.
Here’s our list of some of the most common linguistic false friends, and an explanation of what they really mean. Hopefully, you won't get caught out...
In Norway, an aktor is a 'prosecutor'. Hopefully, he can handle the truth.
In Korea, living apart means 'living in an apartment' – alone or with others.
In Portugal it means ‘to watch’ rather than ‘to help’.
In English, it is a female undergarment. In Swedish it means 'good'.
Don’t be alarmed: your Portuguese friend simply has a cold.
In France, it means someone is simply 'feeling disappointed'.
In Norway, more men wear a dress than women. That’s because in Norway it means 'suit'.
In Spanish, embarazado means 'pregnant'. Embarrassing, huh?
In Sweden, they mean 'possibly', rather than 'at some point in the future'.
Take care saying you’re full after eating in Sweden. There, ful means ugly.
In Germany, gift means 'poison'. Even more reason to never look a gift horse in the mouth.
You might think you’re complimenting your Japanese friend on her carefully constructed sentences. She’ll think you're telling her she’s got large breasts.
A casual hello in Turkey sounds like their word for testicle. You have been warned.
In English, it means 'funny'. The Portuguese word means 'capricious'.
In English, the word means 'happiness'. The Spanish word means 'retirement' or 'pension money'.
In English, it’s someone who is mad. In Russian, they are simply sleepwalking.
In Russia, if someone is nervos it means they are irritating.
Pronounced ‘poosh’, puxe actually means 'to pull' in Portuguese.
In English, it is a furry rodent. In German, it’s the local council. No difference there then.
Vegetarians should be careful asking for soy in a restaurant. In Spain it means ‘you’, and could be considered a little forward.
Fun fact: Vauxhall had to change the name of their Nova when they started selling it in Spain. In Spain, no va means 'doesn't go'.
Have you ever been tripped up by a linguistic false friend in your travels? Tell us about it in the comments below...
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