The Meaning of Meraki

October 20, 2010 § 11 Comments

According to an article at NPR called Translating the Untranslatable, which is all about the book In Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World, there is a word in Greek that I want to be able to apply to everything I do:

meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective)

This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be. Meraki is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table.

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§ 11 Responses to The Meaning of Meraki

  • Susan from Athens says:

    It is a word, like *kefi* which is hard to describe, but often used. It means doing something with energy and enthusiasm. As you said, putting something of yourself and your creativity into what you’re doing.

    • I think it’s wonderful–I can’t think of a single-word English equivalent, only phrases (like ‘doing something with heart’ or ‘doing something with soul’ and such). English is lovely and all, but sometimes other languages seem so much richer!

      • Rachael M. says:

        There IS one word that I know of in the English language that is like Meraki… “Linchpin”
        Meraki would be the act of doing something you love, and Linchpin would be the person who is doing the thing they love!

        If you want to know what I mean, read the book “Linchpin” by Seth Godin, you can pick it up at your local library but after you read the first few chapters you won’t want to send it back! Its amazing, you’ll see..

  • [...] This weeks Mantra was inspired by the word Meraki [may rah kee]. Which is a Greek word for putting yourself into your work. Read more here. [...]

  • hingol says:

    Spoke to an artist yesterday in New York, who told me how she cannot describe to her American art reviewers that she puts her “khoone jigar” into her work. This profound Urdu expression literally translates to “liver blood” but is in fact untranslatable.

  • I am Greek. Meraki is not an adj. It is a noun. Like the English word “gusto” As in “I eat with gusto.” You do something with “meraki”. You do it with a good feeling, with a light heart and a smile. With all your heart. The best way to translate it would be to listen to the 7 dwarves sing, “Whistle while you work…”
    Meraki. :)

  • […] a Meraki moment (experience) you’ve […]

  • TinaS says:

    Just to be clear, Meraki can be applied to anything, correct? Cooking, painting, singing, etc…

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