Explaining “Kilig” to a Non-Filipino

I experienced difficult earlier today trying to explain to my new friends how I was feeling. Kilig is just one of the more beautiful borderline untranslatable Filipino words that it may be better to show examples to try to define it.


Kilig is curling up with a Neil Gaiman book, sipping hot chocolate on a chilly autumn day. You don’t understand 40% of it, but you understand it and you move on.

Kilig is the frustration registered on your best friend’s face after you’ve thrown various stuffed toys and pillows at her for no particular reason.

Kilig is a Michael Buble playlist on infinite repeat, not listening but subconciously being soothed by his suave voice.

Kilig is gnawing on your fingertips, or nails, or pen, because your mouth is dying to bite something right now.

Kilig is friction between two people’s hands as you “accidentally” touch.

Kilig is mint chocolate ice cream and Sandra Bullock at 1 in the morning.

Kilig is one pitch higher than normal.

Kilig is the deciding factor between adding a person on Facebook and waiting for him to add you.

Kilig is the perfect smile, the perfect eyes, the perfect nose, on the perfect face (though you know it’s not perfect but you don’t really care).

Kilig is the antidote for bitterness, the white flag of wars, and the retake of failures.

Kilig is having everything bad happen around and to you, but your smile doesn’t fall off.

Kilig is that extra shimmer on your eyes, the natural blush, and the body’s caffeine.

Kilig is when you pass by him and he says ‘hi’ first.

Kilig is him actually knowing you before you’ve been introduced formally.

Kilig is that three second stare as you pass each other on the hallway; or the three second stare when he looks back after he said goodbye; or the three second stare when you make a raunchy joke.

Kilig is the irritating itch you cannot find — and, no, it’s not there.

Kilig is beer below zero and deep-fried meat.

Kilig is forcing yourself to stop fantasizing about the future or how you wish “I See the Light” to be your wedding song.

Kilig is when he shows you his full name and you desperately want to stalk him online.

Kilig is the universe FINALLY wanting you to be happy — or at least make you believe you are/will be.

Kilig is hushed secrets among good friends.

Kilig is refreshing Facebook, waiting for that one notification if he approved you, and howling in happiness once he did.

Kilig is organically created electricity.

Kilig is asking him out and him saying yes.

Kilig is the first date, the first kiss, the first holding hands, the first movie, the first shared slurpee, the first fight, the first make-up, the first make-out, the first joke, the first introduction to familiy.

Kilig is the last yes you’ll ever need.