‘Gezellig’ is a Dutch word that is a bit hard to translate. It is more of a feeling you have. Loosely translated it means “cozy”, but that doesn’t exactly do the word justice. Wikipedia actually describes it as having “untranslatability”.
This word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch Culture.
Definitions I found include
- literally “companionable”, cognate with German gesellig
- adjective gezellig (1) Having company with a pleasant, friendly ambiance, gemütlich, (2) Cozy atmosphere, (3) An upbeat feeling about the surroundings
- Its meaning includes everything from cozy to friendly, from comfortable to relaxing, and from enjoyable to gregarious (source).
But really this word can only be completely understood when you hear and experience it in context. After being in the Netherlands for a bit now, I have a better understanding of what ‘gezellig‘ actually means. I first heard the word at a group dinner party filled with laughter, wine, tasty Greek food, and good company. The term, however, can be used to describe many things such as an event, a place, a dinner, a bike ride, or time spent with friends. This past Sunday when it was sunny and warm here, I spent the day with friends making American pancakes followed by a bbq complete with sangria. The entire day was spent sitting in the sun, eating, and laughing. The only word to describe this day was ‘gezellig‘!