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The 6 nicest words in Basque

What is it that makes a word especially nice? It is probably a mixture of its sound, its meaning and the associations each of us makes in our head. That’s why it’s impossible to make a single list of the nicest words in a language. Even so, we present a few in Basque here. We hope you like them and that by the end of your trip you’ll have learnt some new words you like, too.

Maite_

Maite

This is a girl’s name and also one of our most romantic verbs. Want to declare your love in Basque? Say, “Maite zaitut.”

Pinpilinpauxa_

Pinpilinpauxa

Pronounce this word slowly and you’ll see how it seems to flutter. It means “butterfly”, though they are also called “tximeleta”.

Ur_

Ur

Water, the most basic element, has this simple, sonorous name in Basque: “ur”, just two letters to represent the whole origin of life.

Panpox_

Panpox

This means “cute”, “smart” or “dressed up”. It’s one of those words that fill your mouth when you say them - and flattery that any woman would like to hear.

Zirimiri_

Zirimiri

This is a delicate, soft word, just like the constant light rain it refers to. Nowadays it is also used in Spanish. In Basque it is a well-loved word and it is said that Bilbao, for example, would not be the same without its zirimiri.

Bihotz_

Bihotz

“Heart” in Basque. As in many other languages, it refers not only to the vital organ, but has an important metaphorical meaning. “Bihotz oneko” (good-hearted) is that which is noble, and “bihotz hautsia” (broken heart) is what you have when you’ve been let down. The famous singer-songwriter Mikel Laboa used to sing a beautiful song called “Antzinako bihotz” (Archaic Heart), with part of the lyrics in German.