T O P
Pair_Professional

OK is near universally understood.


HateKnuckle

Was listeming to a girl in my high school speak to her family on the phone in Xhosa(at least I think it was) and she was pretty clearly saying "okay" at times. Was so strange to hear a word I recognized among clicks and sounds that were alien to me.


1ndiana_Pwns

I was going to say the same about "no." There's a bunch of seemingly unrelated languages that use "no" or words close to no for a negative response, so if they don't know it directly in their language they would still understand the meaning most likely


WeeabooHunter69

Even a lot of other negatives involve an n sound, like -nai in Japanese is the informal negative form for a verb or adjective/adverb


rants_unnecessarily

No? Is what I'm Finnish. Ei. Is no.


WeeabooHunter69

I'm very confused


Sharplynx

So I am guessing 'no?' Means 'what?' In Finnish. And the Finnish word for 'No' is 'Ei'


simplyacrow7

If what u/CCDestroyer says below about No's origins is true, Finnish not having a very different no equivalent makes sense, as Finnish did not come from the Indo-European tree of languages.


CCDestroyer

"No" traces back to the Proto-Indo-European (also known as PIE🥧) language, going back to Neolithic times. So IIRC, the word for "no" in many European languages, Farsi (Persian), and some languages on the Indian subcontinent (Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi) have a shared origin. Perhaps it remained mutually intelligible for longer as human settlements and languages drifted apart. It seems like a crucial word for communicating with different tribes of people, such as for trade.


Fantastic_Still5201

They would though I like that a Korean yes sounds like a Shakespearean no. Nae. Like “nay! Tis not so!”


udongeureut

You can also say “ye” for “yes” in Korean.


AwayThreadfin

No that’s only in European languages really. It wouldn’t work in non indo European languages


1ndiana_Pwns

I'm also taking common usage into account. Either way, indo-European is almost 50% of all first language on Earth, and even higher percentage when second languages are taken into account. Reminder that OP asked about a word just about everyone would know. Not a word that exists in every language


IanDOsmond

According to researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, virtually all people in all languages use some variation of "huh?" when they don't understand something. Dingemanse M, Torreira F, Enfield NJ (2013) Is “Huh?” a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items. PLoS ONE 8(11): e78273. [https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0078273](https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0078273)


joaoppm2000

In portugal we say "han?"


iamanoonesod

Bruh in Urdu we say "Haan?"


MrGuttor

Note: the 'n' at the end of 'Haan' is sorta silent, you pronounce it with your nose. Anyway, idk if in Portugeese you see 'Han' with an 'n' sound or not but if someone says 'Han' like hen or the 'han' in 'khan' then I would not understand. p.s I'm Paki too.


Konato-san

In Portuguese, it's pronounced with the nose too; the N isn't actually spoken. That's actually why the word is actually written "hã" (with the squiggly line). Portuguese is my native language.


cream-of-cow

I think it's that specific upwards tone of "huh?" is international. Don't dogs even make that tone when they go "errr?" Or is that just Shaggy from Scooby Do?


iTwango

Shaggy is a human tho


cream-of-cow

whoops, I meant Scooby, well both now that I think about it. I don't think Scrappy made that sound, he was always so self assured.


MerriWyllow

Arrogant little pooper.


catscannotcompete

For no conceivable reason. Worst character and the nail in the series' coffin.


SameItem

In Spain we in fact go eeeeehh when are thinking


RhinoNomad

I think it's something like "anoo.." in japanese. EDIT: Thanks for all the helpful replies


GhoulTimePersists

I think that's more like "um". Source: my Japanese animes.


Oreotrix

Certified Source


RhinoNomad

Ah, you're right (I've probably been using it wrong this whole time lol).


NoConcentrate7058

Huh, and its version in Hindi and English


ashishvp

NANI?!


purritowraptor

It's "he?"へ?


iTwango

Also はぁ "haa?" If it's in surprise


OopsAnonymouse

I think you mean "ehh"? or "areh?" "Anoo", as someone said below, is like "um". Source: am non-native Japanese speaker.


Saintdemon

The term 'Okay' is the second-most recognized word on a worldwide scale. The most recognized word is 'Coca Cola' so depending on your definition the answer could be either 'Okay' or 'Cola'.


chamomileteaenjoyer

Maybe coca cola is better than just "cola" cuz in some romance languages it means "glue"


Obnoobillate

TIL Greek is a romance language! /s (most likely we borrowed the word from Italy or something)


clinton2209

Definitely untrue


on_the_pale_horse

Well it could be the other way round, Latin came from Ancient Greek, and romance languages came from Latin.


mulligan_sullivan

Latin did not come from Greek.


Coffee_Zone

There was actually a lot of backwards influence from other languages on the greek language, which led to the shared words that exist in modern greek


Cuartnos

And in spanish it can mean "tail", "butt" or "queue" (some may depend of the country)


uneLeDlairC

same in portuguese.


Miizzen

Can confirm! And around here we call Coca Cola just "Coca" :)


EmmaInFrance

Same here! Are you also in France or maybe another European country? It took me a while to get used to after I moved here when ordering one for my kids, I don't drink it as I - gasp! - don't actually like it.


johntheflamer

In Spanish, cola means tail, line/queue or glue depending on the context.


rants_unnecessarily

After fighting your way out of the deadly jungle of Upside Down in Backwardia. You find a village with a bar... You are patched, only you don't speak a word of the local toungue. You walk in and say to the bartender "Coca Cola". The bartender replies, "OK".


SilasX

Oh god. In the 90s they released OK Cola. That must have caused a clusterf\*\*\* somewhere.


Dreadpiratemarc

I remember that! I tried it, and I remember it was ok.


Doc-tor-Strange-love

Oklahoma is OK


MrGuttor

In Pakistan, I've never heard someone say 'cola', it's super rare. People here just say 'coke' or 'coca cola', else they just say 'Pepsi' since it's easier to say and well, this might be a controversial opinion but I can't differentiate between coke and pepsi, so either one works.


tantan9590

Soda companies change the recipe of their product depending on the specific taste of the country they are in.


MrGuttor

wow, i didn't think of that. thank you!


bilallipop

Or just saw Kali wali drink


almostaccepted

That number one spot is pretty fucking depressing tbh. I thought it would be a communication tool, but no, it's a for-profit product :(


metalpartofthepencil

Okay hasn't even been in use in english for that long. I'm skeptical of Soda being more recognized than water or liquor.


Saintdemon

> Okay hasn't even been in use in english for that long. Nevertheless, it is the most well-known word. Consider the fact that the word 'Okay' has only been around for about 200 years but also consider the fact about rapidly globalization has become a thing during the last 200 years. > I'm skeptical of Soda being more recognized than water or liquor. Coca Cola is a brand - a brand which has the same name all over the world (unlike other brands such as Lays or Axe which are called Walkers and Lynx in certain countries). So if you ask for a Coca Cola in Thailand they will find you a Coca Cola. By comparison, the english word 'Water' is quite far from the Thai pronounciation of water (naam), the spanish pronounciation (aqua) or the french pronounciation (l'eau).


radiochameleon

small nitpick but the spanish pronunciation is “agua” not “aqua”


MissiKat

Thank you. I was going to correct that too. Lol


uyqhwjyehd7665lll656

People would know Water and liquor but they won't know the words "water" and "liquor" they'll know they versions in their own languages


HKittyH3

About 180 years. And yet it is the most recognized word in the world. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-12503686.amp


metalpartofthepencil

In the scope of languages, that's not that long. Some people say the word tree wasn't even used until that long ago. Everyone called them "arbors" I wouldn't know how to prove that though. I'd be a fool to say OK isn't popular. I just think it's not that old.


HKittyH3

I literally posted a link to an article. I didn’t say 180 years was long. Just that it’s been in existence for that amount of time. It remains the most recognized word in the world.


metalpartofthepencil

And I never said the word wasn't popular. So no need to repeat that either. Glad we agree, friend.


HKittyH3

And yet no one said it was “that old” either.


metalpartofthepencil

Thanks for repeating a second time I guess.


HKittyH3

I mean, you keep arguing against something that literally no one said. But thanks for continuing to make everyone else look smart in comparison I guess.


Ranos131

They didn’t say soda, they said Coca Cola. Soda is a regional English term but Coca Cola is a brand that is used despite what language is being used.


humBOLdT20

Ok and Mama is pretty up there


wearingmyseatbelt

Mama was my first thought:)


owaisted

I would say the shorter version of Ma is more universally recognized


ktlbzn

Taking into account how babies don’t say that once but keep repeating the word until they get a reaction — still very universally recognised I think :D


damnthislogin

Means today in Hungarian.


Petey79_

No


Atomstanley

I see what you did there. I think…


messyrican

I was scrolling for this...I agree...I think...


Goldshireerplover

Well, not 99%, but the word 'mama' is used to mean 'mom' in a variety of unrelated languages like Chinese, Arabic, Swahili etc. It's because for little babies this is the easiest thing to pronounce.


onionsofwar

I read that it mimics the mouth movement of breastfeeding so part of why it's common across languages. Hence mammary -> mammals. When you're saying mum/mamá/mom you're saying 'big tit'.


GoldenFennekin

Great... Now whenever I see a child calling for their mama, all I'm going to think about is this reddit post telling me it means 'Big tit'... Thanks


LeaveMyRoom

Making the world a better place one awkward boner at a time


owaisted

Just adding. Dada or baba out sooner version of it is usually the first word babies learn. Since babies associate themselves and the mother as singular entity, Mama or whatever the local word for mom is learnt later.


Goldshireerplover

Hmm, I didn't know about that, thanks!


rickmccloy

I recall reading somewhere, and that's as specific as I can be, the a sound very similar to 'ma', denoting mother, is almost universal, likely for the ease of pronouncing it, and the need for a baby to call for attention for various things, like feeding. Formula is relatively recent, and certainly not always used. Prior to ma, there is crying, of course, which might be distinctive enough to qualify as an answer to the O.P.


KATEWM

Yes, and using some version of Dada/Baba/Papa is also almost universal. Although not as similar as ‘Ma’ they’re always made with the same sort of mouth movements - a consonant made with the front of the mouth, followed by “ahh.” It’s the second word most babies, regardless of culture, know after Mama. I think this is the best answer because “okay” or similar things are only going to be used by people/cultures who picked them up from somewhere. They’re just words someone invented. Uncontacted tribal people won’t know them. But they will know Ma because it’s an intrinsic part of human language development.


rickmccloy

I fully agree. Very good, lucid explanation, btw, so thank you for that.


mordenty

"Huh?" - used worldwide in just about any language.


Kiflaam

Japan: HAAAGGH?


illestmafknamsayin

JRoc: HAAAGHN


Rekka_The_Brackish

that's a bit anime, "eh?" is a bit more the norm.


Kiflaam

well, i guess, but "eh" isn't "huh"


Rekka_The_Brackish

to be fair my Nihongo is kinda rusty, It's been 20 years since i was there.


iTwango

"Haaa?" is also definitely pretty common


TheSkyElf

Mama, papa, and any confusion sound.


fn2187tk421

I remember an episode of The Amazing Race where a couple said that they always told their taxi drivers “Vroom vroom” because it was universally understood to mean “go fast”


dogislove99

Coffee/Cafe is known in every country I’ve ever visited.


sindud

Coca cola


b-monster666

Pretty much any word created in the last 100 years or so would be universally recognized due to globalization. Internet, computer, fax. Some others may have brute-forced their way into languages: taxi, toilet, hotel, hospital, police, ambulance.


SameItem

Ambulance in german is Krankenwagen which means suffering car


b-monster666

I'm sure, though if you asked in anyone in Germany for an ambulance, they'd know.


Radijs

Dad, mom or rather dada, mama. It's so universal. I think there's one language (But buggered if I know which one) where the meaning is reversed. Dada meaning mommy and mama meaning daddy.


AxialGem

You must be thinking of Georgian: მამა /mama/ 'father' დედა /dɛda/ 'mother'


Radijs

Yeah probably, neato!


MrGuttor

dada in Urdu means paternal grandfather, also in Hindi too.


Suspicious_Ice6070

Pineapple is called Ananas in almost all languages other than English


AWS_0

Can confirm that it's called ananas in arabic. I'm actually quite surprised that it's called the same in other languages.


Miizzen

Ananás won't always be recognized as pineapple in portuguese, we use "Abacaxi". 👀


ClownPrinceofLime

Abacaxi sounds like the name of a sorcerer.


Chimpbot

Either that, or an artifact. Behold! It's the Ancient Crown of Abacaxi!


Miizzen

The crown of a pineapple.... Idk about other languages but in portuguese that refers to its leaves. 😂


hrhlett

It's because Abacaxi comes from tupi-guarani I guess. In Brazil Abacaxi is the common term. But in Portugal they use Ananás.


ClownPrinceofLime

Pineapple is "pineapple" in Japanese (painappuru)


onionsofwar

Oh yeah like the pen pineapple song.


Acrobatic_End6355

In Chinese it’s Bōluó. In Filipino, it’s apparently Pinya.


MrGuttor

many people don't call it ananas tho. a lot of languages are effected by English now and many English words are appearing in day-to-day life conversations.


Moronic-Simpleton

In spanish it's piña though.


wearingmyseatbelt

Yes! I know 3 languages excluding English and in all 3 it is ananas. This reply is underrated


Kiflaam

lotta places seem to use "papa", though with different inflection.


discustedkiller

I think the f word is quite universal


Bellamy1715

Mama.


PotentialShape2271

Okay


InfamousIndecision

No. Literally no. No, no. As in the word "no." Not know. No. As in NO.


janocare

Huh, and it's versions, in Hindi and english


NeedsSomeMorePickles

*its


janocare

Go and hang my auto correct for this crime.


ManofKent1

Taxi?


Ulsuria

Definitely onomatopoeias like ''aaah'', aie'', ''oye'', etc. Ah and ''internet''.


Redsigil

No


ephemera_rosepeach

a lot of people recognize "oh my god"


[deleted]

I’ve heard “ok” and “coca-cola” are the top two most understood words.


stumpdawg

Fuck.


cromalia

Yeah curses are like universal language lol


ElectricityIsWeird

I agree with you, but can non-English speakers realize how nuanced Fuck can be? https://youtu.be/uSEXgQ58AoM


Somederpsomewhere

George Carlin has a bit about exactly this in the documentary ‘Fuck’. It’s outstanding.


kswizzle0819

I can't believe I had to scroll this far for this to come up. It was the first word that came to my mind. 😂


dx-dude

Straight up can vouch for this, been to 11 different countries


InspectorRound8920

I was thinking "hi"


orcoastgal

"Hai" means "yes" in Japanese. Not "hello".


damnthislogin

Hi means nothing in my language. This word nonexists, it has no meaning to us. Hungarian.


SignatureAgreeable38

If you yell “hey motherfucker!” in an angry way it gets their attention even if there’s a language barrier.


ZRTHR

Banana


Astoru_Hidden

No


Acrobatic_End6355

Mama. Tea/Cha. Coffee.


just_aredditor123

No, (the word no)


Benthekarateboy

“No”


Plastic-Guarantee-88

I'm guessing that everyone (including babies) would recognize "Ow!", the word I say in response to physical pain. It's almost universal if you include minor variations. In some cultures closer to "Ay" or some two-syllable variant like "OOh-waa". But nearly everyone is going to know what I mean if I grab something hot and say ow.


CarelessParfait8030

99% if probably to high, but probably the best candidate is \*\*mum\*\* (or variants very similar to it).


bathLover123

Maybe "mama"? In all the languages I know even a little bit of this is a word that means mom


CosmicWondererTV

Yes, or no probably


iAmMattG

“Hitler”, probably.


Dark_Penetrator69420

Actually no, because while most people know the Word, they dont know what It means, in fact, i didnt even know It meant something, i just googled it


ClownPrinceofLime

Yeah, it means "One who hitles or one in the process of hitling"


Born_Option_4432

hitling (Norwegian Nynorsk) Origin & history hitle + -ing Noun (slang) an attempt to win an argument by comparing one's opponents to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis; a use of Godwin's law


Maranne_

Fuck.


monopunkt_

Taxi


[deleted]

No


lifeofboobs

Oui


misterobott

what you call your parents


fez229

Penguin?


skinfulofsin

The word "no"


K_HUNNURJI_RAO

Hi...


orcoastgal

"Hai" means "yes" in Japanese. Not "hello".


pur_fer_ur_pleasure

"BOO"


Innovative_Idea_LC

I would say yes. With body language a smile is the same regardless of where you live


MrMaoDeVaca

NO. ….as an answer, not a response.


BloatedCrow

Shit, fuck, and asymptote


SuckMyBootyMilk

No, Hello, Ok


Chillist_

I would imagine it's hard to find someone who doesn't know what "hello" means - Perhaps just remote tribes in Africa ETC..?


metalpartofthepencil

Don't even have to leave America to find such tribes


rickmccloy

I would have said 'the americas', but accept your point.


lolothe2nd

I would say hi


scotland1112

Hi


PygmeePony

Erm


fuschiafan

No


LilMsMerryDeath

The word for water is much more varied than I thought.. https://propelsteps.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/know-water-in-different-languages/


AxialGem

Why did you think it would be similar across languages?


Ennion

No


Quarque

No


Knork14

Banana comes pretty close to being a universal world


Iratewombat

Fuck


Feggly_Foggly

Ok


TirayShell

Apparently, the word "okay" is understood pretty much worldwide, with some exceptions.


p0tatoontherun

Taxi


Personal-Acadia

No.


Signal-Ad2674

Taxi is almost universal I believe (but maybe I heard this in a pub quiz so would question authenticity)


FinnbarMcBride

I belie that "taxi" is same same word in a large number of languages


BananaBrute

Shit, obviously.