In my native language Tamil, arusuvai means six tastes namely Uvarppu(salty), inippu(sweet), kasappu(bitter), pulippu(sour), kaarppu(pungent e.g. chilli) and thuvarpu. I am looking for a word in English for the last one. It's neither umami nor astringent.

It's the taste you realize when biting Gooseberry or betelnuts or unripen banana.

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    If you can't find it in a Tamil-English dictionary, then it's unlikely a direct translation exists. Googling does suggest the most common translation is indeed astringent, so if that's not satisfactory to you, explaining why would help people understand what directions are likely to be more or less fruitful. English language articles on gooseberries describe them as sour and betel nuts as bitter. So it seems like in English there is no one word which captures all these flavors. It's somewhere in the range of sour/tart/bitter/astringent. – Dan Bron Apr 18 '18 at 16:19
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    What other food items have this taste for you? Gooseberries are sour, but green bananas just taste "green" like other unripe fruit. – KarlG Apr 18 '18 at 17:05
  • @Dan Gooseberries don't taste sour, it tastes thuvarpu then sweet, which in the literatures saying "Nellikai muthiyor Sol polla munnae thuvarkum pinnae innikum" meaning Gooseberry, like elder's word tastes thuvarpu early, then sweet later. – Mambo Apr 19 '18 at 1:37
  • @Mambo I've never had gooseberries, or if I have, I don't remember them. I'm just telling you how I found their taste described in English - if you search for "the taste of gooseberries" (in English) and read the articles and other write-ups, the word used is sour. What I think this tells you is there is no single word in English that captures the flavor thuvarpu. My best guess is it's somewhere on the spectrum of what English describes as sour/tart/bitter/astringent. I don't think you'll get a more precise word than that, or we'd have found it already. Or I could be wrong. – Dan Bron Apr 19 '18 at 12:17
  • I find gooseberries a bit like lemons/limes. They have a sweetness to them, but it's also overpowered by a very tart flavour (when not cooked) – Smock Aug 5 at 9:54

From what I gather "astringent" is often used for this sixth taste. That may seem inappropriate to you. In terms of taste, which can be very subjective, the word "acidic" might be an appropriate English word to convey the taste. Other English taste words might be to give quality of "brightness" or "freshness".


  • Isn't 'acidic' the same as 'sour'? – Mitch Apr 18 '18 at 19:31
  • astringent is more of a mouthfeel than a taste. – Zebrafish Apr 19 '18 at 3:59

There no English word to describe thuvarpu in Tamil. However "pulippu" and "Thuvarpu" are entirely different taste English use sour for both.

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