In an inquisitive episode of their incredibly informative whiteboard series for Mental Floss, linguist Arika Okrent and illustrator Sean O’Neill verbally and visually explain the concept of lexical gaps – a term for those particular words that don’t exist in a language, but probably should. One prescient example of a lexical gap is a term for the opposite of lying.
There are a lot of things it seems we should have a word for, but don’t. We have parents, children, siblings…why no word for all your nieces and nephews together? Brazilians have a word for the melancholy yearning for something or someone that you miss. Saudade.Why don’t we? We have a verb for lying, and while we have phrases we can use, we don’t have a single verb for telling the truth. Languages are full of holes like this.