[trans-leyt, tranz-, trans-leyt, tranz-]

verb (used with object), trans·lat·ed, trans·lat·ing.

verb (used without object), trans·lat·ed, trans·lat·ing.

to provide or make a translation; act as translator.
to admit of translation: The Greek expression does not translate easily into English.

Origin of translate

1250–1300; Middle English translaten < Latin trānslātus (past participle of trānsferre to transfer), equivalent to trāns- trans- + -lātus (suppletive past participle of ferre to bear1), earlier *tlātus, equivalent to *tlā- bear (akin to thole2) + -tus past participle suffix
Related formstrans·lat·a·ble, adjectivetrans·lat·a·bil·i·ty, trans·lat·a·ble·ness, nounhalf-trans·lat·ed, adjectivein·ter·trans·lat·a·ble, adjectivepre·trans·late, verb (used with object), pre·trans·lat·ed, pre·trans·lat··trans·late, verb (used with object), re·trans·lat·ed, re·trans·lat·ing.un·trans·lat·a·bil·i·ty, nounun·trans·lat·a·ble, adjectiveun·trans·lat·ed, adjectivewell-trans·lat·ed, adjective
Can be confusedtranslate transliterate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for untranslatable

Contemporary Examples of untranslatable

  • I too am not a bit tamed ... I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Eulogy for Marie Colvin

    Katrina Heron

    March 14, 2012

Historical Examples of untranslatable

  • Some apology must be made for an attempt "to translate the untranslatable."


    Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld

  • This is an untranslatable play on the name 'Polus,' which means 'a colt.'



  • "The future is so untranslatable," says she, with a little evasion.

    April's Lady

    Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

  • Poosh or Posh I have already confessed to be untranslatable literally.

    The Coming Race

    Edward Bulwer Lytton

  • The word is untranslatable, though my dictionary translates it.

    Home Life in Germany

    Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick

British Dictionary definitions for untranslatable



to express or be capable of being expressed in another language or dialecthe translated Shakespeare into Afrikaans; his books translate well
(intr) to act as translator
(tr) to express or explain in simple or less technical language
(tr) to interpret or infer the significance of (gestures, symbols, etc)
(tr) to transform or convertto translate hope into reality
(tr; usually passive) biochem to transform the molecular structure of (messenger RNA) into a polypeptide chain by means of the information stored in the genetic codeSee also transcribe (def. 7)
to move or carry from one place or position to another
  1. to transfer (a cleric) from one ecclesiastical office to another
  2. to transfer (a see) from one place to another
(tr) RC Church to transfer (the body or the relics of a saint) from one resting place to another
(tr) theol to transfer (a person) from one place or plane of existence to another, as from earth to heaven
maths physics to move (a figure or body) laterally, without rotation, dilation, or angular displacement
(intr) (of an aircraft, missile, etc) to fly or move from one position to another
(tr) archaic to bring to a state of spiritual or emotional ecstasy
Derived Formstranslatable, adjectivetranslatability, noun

Word Origin for translate

C13: from Latin translātus transferred, carried over, from transferre to transfer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for untranslatable



c.1300, "to remove from one place to another," also "to turn from one language to another," from Latin translatus "carried over," serving as past participle of transferre "to bring over, carry over" (see transfer), from trans- (see trans-) + latus "borne, carried," from *tlatos, from PIE root *tel-, *tol- "to bear, carry" (see extol). Related: Translated; translating. A similar notion is behind the Old English word it replaced, awendan, from wendan "to turn, direct" (see wend).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

untranslatable in Medicine


[trăns-lāt, trănz-, trănslāt′, trănz-]


To render in another language.
To put into simpler terms; explain or interpret.
To subject mRNA to translation.
Related formstrans•lat′a•bili•ty n.trans•lata•ble adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.