A young man named John Koenig was trying to write poems. However, some emotions seemed difficult to express in words. He had the idea of creating words for these previously unnamed feelings in a dictionary. Thus, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows was born. He began a website and a web series on Youtube that introduced his words to the world. Now, people everywhere can contribute to the dictionary.
Ten of The Coolest Words
The dictionary has over a hundred entries. Here are ten of the most intriguing invented words. To which of them do you relate the most?
Lachesism is the desire to experience disaster—a hurricane, a plane crash, a shipwreck, etc.—in order to disturb the smooth and predictable path of your life and “forge it into something hardened and flexible and sharp.”
Exulansis is the inclination to avoid relating an experience until the memory begins to feel foreign to you.
Avenoir is the wish that memory could flow backward. The image conjured is of a rower facing backward in order to see the path that he is leaving. So much in life now is anticipation for the future. What if we could anticipate the past?
Altschmerz expresses the weariness you feel with the same old imperfections and worries. After “gnawing” them so long, they become “soggy and tasteless and inert.” Are you so tired of your flaws that you would welcome a fresh issue? You have experienced altschmerz.
Occhiolism is the acknowledgment that your perspective is truly limited, so much so that you can’t make any real conclusions about anything.
Liberosis is the desire to care less. If you worry about strangers crossing the street, whether the postman will bring the mail on time, and if you will still have all your favorite things in five years, you might wish for liberosis.
Vellichor is the odd melancholy and longing of secondhand bookstores. Aren’t they “somehow infused with the passage of time”? Think about it; all the characters whose stories you’ll never read in your lifetime. What thoughts captured will never be set free from their paper prisons?
Rückkehrunruhe describes how you feel after a long journey. The memories are so fresh, but already they are starting to recede as your everyday life rushes in to reclaim you.
Gnossienne is the flash of awareness that you really don’t know the people that you thought you knew best. Your spouse, your friends, your family members have a mysterious side of them that you will never fully discover. It’s like “a door locked from the inside, a stairway leading to a wing of the house that you’ve never fully explored…”
Anecdoche occurs when everyone talks but nobody listens. Each speaker contributes, but none of the pieces add up to anything. Eventually, there’s nothing left to say and anecdoche is over.
Can you relate to these obscure sorrows? Have you experienced your own unique emotions? You need not leave these sentiments unexpressed. If there is no word, invent one and submit it to John Koenig’s website. For those who long to see a book version rather than read about these feelings online, a book version is scheduled to be released in 2017. Wait a minute; is there a word for yearning for the texture of paper in your fingers in these increasingly paperless times?