Yes! Today you get not one but two awesome Romanian words explained, thus doubling your pleasure!
The first one is a common phrase: a freca menta.
You might recognize the word mentă because it comes from the same Latin root as in English, meaning “mint”, whether the savory plant or the flavor that we derive from it. The verb freca however means to “rub” or to “rub together”. Putting it all together it means “rubbing the mint”. But what does that mean?
Imagine you were rubbing a mint leaf in one hand between your thumb and forefinger. That’s a motion that in America we call “playing the world’s smallest violin”. In English we use it to sardonically imply that we don’t care. In Romanian however the gesture is more akin to “twiddling your thumbs” otherwise known as “doing nothing”, especially when you’re supposed to be doing something.
So if you see someone on the job who is supposed to be doing something but is standing around doing nothing. In Romanian you can say that they freca menta or are “rubbing mint”. This phrase doesn’t rise to the level of a “cuss word” but it is a somewhat vulgar thing to say and you would want to avoid this in very polite company.
Now it’s time for your bonus word!
And that word is: izmă (ease-muh).
A couple of weeks ago I was in the piata, buying some honey when the lady tried to sell me one kind of honey labeled izma. When she gave me a free taste of her delicious honey, I realized right away the bees had been pollinating none other than mint plants. Yes, izma is just a rather obscure Romanian word of unknown origin for the same plant normally called mentă.
Note: While a lot of English-speaking people put a great deal of stock in the difference between spearmint and peppermint, here in Romania all branches of the mint family are just referred to as mentă or izmă (in certain locations).
AND NOW YOU KNOW!