Every language is full of beautiful words that describes actions and objects. Anyway, talking about feelings and emotions, common words are often not enough to explain what we are feeling in that moment. There is a lack of specific words that could be used in order to communicate our obscure and sometimes strange perceptions, sensations, sorrows and more generally, feelings.
That’s why John Koening and a small group of people have started to create and develop new words since 2009. Their “mission” as they call it, is to “harpoon, bag and tag wild sorrows then release them back into the subconscious“. This is the information we can read on their Facebook page called “The Dictionary of Obscure Words“.
Now, I want to share with you some words and their definitions as invented by Koening’s well-developed fantasy.
WALDOSIA: n. [Brit. wallesia] a condition characterized by scanning faces in a crowd looking for a specific person who would have no reason to be there, which is your brain’s way of checking to see whether they’re still in your life, subconsciously patting its emotional pockets before it leaves for the day.
CHRYSALISM: n. the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm, listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.
SONDER: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own —populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness — an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
VELLICHOR: n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
VEMÖDALEN: the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same close-up of an eye — which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.
OPIA: n. the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable — their pupils glittering, bottomless and opaque — as if you were peering through a hole in the door of a house, able to tell that there’s someone standing there, but unable to tell if you’re looking in or looking out.
ONISM: n. the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die — and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.
I know most of these words could sound really weird, strange and difficult to pronounce, but all of them have a real etymology, in other words they are all composed by really existing words from Latin, Greek, French, English and so on. If you want to know something more, you can visit the website www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com, the Facebook page or the blog on Tumblr.
obviously, you could ask why should you read and be interested in just made up words… Here’s Koening’s answer:
“I admit, it’s perfectly alright to express yourself using only the words you inherited from your parents. It’s alright to put ketchup on everything, and only dance ironically, and never learn another language, and never fight and never make mistakes. It’s alright to go to a party and only talk to the people you know. It’s alright if you climb back down the water slide, and wait ten years before you tell someone how you felt about them. It’s alright to die in your bed, leaving a vault of treasure that goes to the state.
But if you listen closely, many of the words we use to keep our lives afloat are now hulking derelicts, rust-eaten and bullet-holed, piled up with so much baggage and barnacles they’re sinking beneath our feet. We should cut them adrift, set them ablaze and let them rest; they’ve done their work.”
What’s more, if you wish so, you can send them an email describing an emotion, and they will answer you with the perfect word for that situation.
Why don’t you give it a try? 😉