WOTD: Imbulzeala

I had to laugh because although I just formally learned the word imbulzeala (em-boolzy-ala) the other day, visitors and foreign residents in Romania have been asking me about the phenomenon for years.

This is a classic Romanian word, constructed from a root word bulz, which means something like “clot” or “clump” or “clod”. As DEX helpfully informs us, when your mamaliga gels into a little lump, that’s a bulz.

Therefore imbulzeala means something like “the clumping up” or “the clotting up” but has one specific meaning and that is for people (as in people’s bodies, not metaphorically like a traffic jam of cars or something). Imbulzeala describes a situation wherein a throng of people are all jammed in together in one big “clump”.

As anyone knows who has ever visited here, any time there is a line (UK: queue) of people, Romanians like to get close together, as in really close. If you can’t smell their body odor and count the hairs growing out of the mole on the back of the neck of the person in front of you, you aren’t close enough. Romanians like to snuggle up in one big clump of humanity and share the air for a while and that, my friends, is when you’ve got yourself an old-fashioned imbulzeala.


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