Untranslatable Words #1: Torschlusspanik

Hello, peeps! @ailindigo here!

I've always felt a special interest for languagues and (therefore) cultures, and I guess that's partially the reason why I decided to have a languages degree; during the whole learning process along those five years and with the help of alternative research I started to be aware of how language, perception and culture are interconnected, forming a beautiful triangle of interaction, and I became a fan.

In many languages there are words that in other languages don't exist, words that usually describe an emotion or state of mind, and are hard to translate or simply don't have a translation; and I think this event is a beautiful way of perceiving that triangle is real. So, the other day while taking a shower I decided to share this love for these untranslatable words.

I will be sharing a different word each week alongside some thoughts on it. And I'll start today with one I mentioned on an old post regarding this topic, the german word: Torschlusspanik.

Gif by Wordstuck


I think we all have experienced Torschlusspanik at some point of our lives, or will experience it. Not so long ago I found myself on it, I was very anxious and stressing about those goals I still haven't accomplished, thinking "What have I been doing with my life?" kind of sad and dissapointed of myself. This word describes the fear, usually as one gets older, that time is running out and important opportunities are slipping away.*

Torschlusspanik literally means "panic due to the closing door", it's a combination of three german words: Tor (Door) + Schluss (End/Shut) + Panik (Panic), more literally it's "gate-shut-panic".

As the image says, it refers to the sense of fear or anxiety caused by the feeling that life's opportunities are passing by, are not being taken advantage of and diminish with the passage of time.

The term dates back to the Middle Ages, when cities would have been protected by those big gates, that for safety reasons used to be shut at nightfall leaving latecomers no other choice than to stay outside, thereby exposing them to various dangers, such as cold, wild animals and perhaps robbers. So it refers to the panic medieval peasants might have experienced as they rushed to make it back inside the city gates before they closed at nightfall.*

Imagine how recurring this fear was at that time that this word appeared in their vocabulary, imagine how hard would have been the fact of planning your day based on the time you would have to spend on coming back home before the gates close, crazy right?

Torschlusspanik by Marija Tiurina

Nowadays, this word's definition is more metaphorical, more related and triggered by the effects of a mid-life crisis, or the tick-tock of a biological clock.

I think I chose this word because I was feeling like this lately, but it helped me understand that well things happen when they have to happen, somehow lol. And I'm still glad that I keep myself on running towards the gate even if I slow down a bit sometimes, what matters is going there with no hurry but no calm, because even if the gate closes maybe I can find another way to get inside lol.

What do you think? Have you ever felt/are you experincing Torschlusspanik? Are you always running to the gate? Do you always make it to get in right on time? Or did you find another way to get in even if it closes?? Feel free to tell me in the comments please!

Thank you very much for passing by! :)

This content is part of a new series to get more people interested on languages and how they, perception and culture are related!

Exclusively for the Hive Cross Culture Community, the community for language exchange or cross-cultural purposes.

If you'd like to be part of the discussion don't hesitate to hop into the Hive Language and Culture Exchange Discord server! As well as subscribing to the Hive Cross Culture Community so you don't miss any new word comming ;) We'll be sharing a new Untranslatable Word each week!

3 columns
2 columns
1 column