English & Jamaican Creole
Hey everyone,

I was just curious as to what the word for the insect, known as the "firefly" in English, is in other languages.

In Jamaican Creole it's "Piiniwaali"
  • Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello M07yth :)

    In German, it's "Glühwürmchen". Hm, the official word seems to be "Leuchtkäfer", but I prefer Glühwürmchen (there's also a nice song about it).


    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    In Portuguese: vaga-lume or sometimes pirilampo. I've heard that vaga-lume was originally caga-lume (light shitter) but that the name was changed to sound better. Vaga-lume would have a blander translation as light rambler, which doesn't make much sense if you think about it.


    Senior Member
    Hungarian: szentjánosbogár (Saint John's bug)

    Czech: světluška or svatojánská muška (Saint John's bug)

    and I hope :) Austrians use: Johanniskäfer.


    Senior Member
    Светлячок /svetlyachok/; it is an affectionate diminutive form of "светляк" /svetlyak/, which means something like "light one", I believe. :)


    Senior Member
    French : une luciole (doesn't mean anything else, just like dog only means dog - but it seems to come from Latin lux).

    It may also be called un ver luisant: litterally a glowing worm, although it isn't a worm.
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    Senior Member
    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    In Dutch:
    glimworm (shine+worm)
    vuurvliegje (fire+fly)
    gloeiworm (glow+worm)




    In Polish pretty much like in Czech: świetlik or robaczek świętojański. The 1st one meaning also a skylight and the other one Saint John's little bug.


    Senior Member
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    Chinese fireflies are very lucky as they have their very own character: 螢 (ying). However, we usually add '火蟲' (fire bug) at the end so it becomes 螢火蟲 (yinghuochong).


    Senior Member
    In Ukrainian:
    Світля́к - /To shine/
    Блищáк - /To shine/
    Блискавéць - /Lightning/
    Огняни́ця - /Fire/


    Senior Member
    Standard Jamaican English (Caribbean)
    Hey everyone,

    I was just curious as to what the word for the insect, known as the "firefly" in English, is in other languages.

    In Jamaican Creole it's "Piiniwaali"
    Never seen/read the spelling you used, but peenie wallie is related to the word peelie wallie from the Scottish dialect. In the Scottish dialect, it refers to a person who's pale/ill-looking. The fireflies give off a pale-whitish/ yellowish light and some make a sound when they flap thier wings or when they fly about, making a thud-like sound upon bumping into stuff. It started out in the early nineteenth century as the single word peelie for a person who is thin, gaunt or pale. As cited from the dictionary, "Dictionaries usually suggest it as an imitation of a slight, high-pitched sound, perhaps a noise that someone in distress might make. If so, it’s linked to another imitative Scots word, peek, for the feeble cry of a small bird, animal and insect noise or whimper of complaint, or an insignificant person with a piping voice", (Quintion 1999). Scottish-Jamaicans started using the term and it became widespread. It's not just Patois slang, but is also Standard Jamaican English.


    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    In Italian it's known as "lucciola" it's a diminutive derived from "luce" (light)

    In Sardinian it's known as "culiluche or culilughe" it's a composite word : "culi" is the Latin genitive of "culus" (ass), it's a relic of genitive present in many Sardinian adjectives, while "luche or lughe" (light) derives from Latin "lucem", accusative of "lux" (with classical pronunciation "lukem" -> luke/lughe). So, if we translate it considering the genitive the meaning should be "light of ass..."


    Senior Member
    In Macedonian it is known as светулка or diminutive светулче

    (svétulka) noun, fem. = firefly, lightning bug, glowworm
    • светулка (svétulka) verb, 3rd p.s. = to sparkle; to emit flashing light
    • светлина (svétlina) noun, fem. = light, glow, shine
    • свети (svéti) verb, 3rd p.s. = to shine, to glow
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    Senior Member
    In Romanian

    licurici (< vb. a licuri < vb. a licări = to shine, to twinkle)

    a licări < Lat. lūcēre < lūx (light)
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    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Catalan: Cuc de llum
    Literally, a "worm of light".
    In Catalonia, the variant used is cuca de llum, which instead of 'worm of light' would translate as 'bug of light'.

    Another possibility is the nice word lluerna [ʎuέɾnə], from Latin LUCERNA 'oil lamp'.


    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    But all in all it turns out to be a flying worm, so it seems, or at least a flying insect... Or what do you think?
    It's both. The female is unable to fly, she actually has no wings, and it's like a chubby insect with a long segmented abdomen similar to a worm, she lives underground and she produces the light from the abdomen to lure the males to her den. While the male specimen are littler than the female, and they fly, to move fast towards the female's light, also the male specimen produce light from the abdomen.

    You can see in the picture below, female and male.


    Senior Member
    It seems to me that "fireflies" is the family Lampyridae, which in Finnish is kiiltomadot (lit. "glowworms"). Some tropical species of Lampyridae are called tulikärpänen (lit. "firefly"). In Finland we have two species of Lampyridae, called kiiltomato (lit. "glowworm") and tuikemato (lit. "twinkleworm").
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