11 Words That Capture Feelings You Didn’t Even Know You Had
Can't stand to watch others embarrass themselves? There's a word for that!
For when you just want to stay in
A drink. At home. In your underwear. Does it really get any better than that? And, according to the Finns, there is a word that perfectly describes this trifecta of bliss: Kalsarikännit. They’re so committed to spreading the joy of staying in that they’ve even created their own set of emojis—including a male and female version—so you can let your friends know exactly when you’re feeling it. (Emoji aficionado? Check out the history of these little pictures and why we love to use them so much.)
For when you’re feeling so cozy, happy, and content
You’re gathered around the table for dinner with your family and friends. It’s nothing fancy but suddenly you’re overwhelmed by a feeling of completeness and joy in that cozy, isolated moment. Everything feels softly lit and beautiful as if you’re all in a Normal Rockwell painting together. Americans have no specific word for that type of happiness and satisfaction but the Dutch call it hygge.
For when you’re crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
L’appel du vide is a French phrase that literally means “call of the void.” On a surface level it’s that random feeling you get when you’re somewhere very high that makes you think, momentarily, of jumping. On a deeper level it describes self-destructive impulses, from yelling out curse words on the subway to running into traffic to lighting your house on fire. You would never do it, of course, but sometimes these thoughts just happen. (Can’t resist a little danger? Beat any speeding ticket with these magic words.)
For when you’re feeling unsure and mad about it
Ambiguphobia, a term coined by the author David Foster Wallace, is for everyone who hates uncertainty. There are many things in life that are ambiguous, or open to interpretation, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. And to compensate for this scary lack of definition or clarity, ambiguphobes will often go to great lengths to make sure Everything. Is. Perfectly. Clear. (Are you an ambiguphobe? Try these tips for speaking confidently and clearly.)
For when you’re watching America’s Funniest Home Videos
A biker crashing into a tree, a singer who lost the tune, every reality show ever: Everyone knows the terrible feeling of watching someone do something so embarrassing that you’re reflexively embarrassed for them. But the Germans apparently experienced this often enough (and felt bad enough about it) that they created a word to describe this exact situation: Fremdschämen. So the next time you’re tempted to look away when your friend gets in the karaoke line, you’re not a bad friend, you’re just experiencing fremdschämen!
For when you’re trying to talk about the life-changing magic of the Amazon
Have you ever had an experience so immense and important that it almost defied words? And then when you do try to explain it, everything that comes out feels so cheap and inadequate? If so, then you are having exulansis, the feeling of “giving up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.” (Or skip the words and look at these 20 arrestingly beautiful photos that tell their own story.)
For when everyone is trying to help you and you don’t know why
Most of us understand all too well the feeling of paranoia, the sense that everyone is out to get you, but did you know paranoia has an opposite? Pronoia is an eerie, prescient feeling that… everyone is out to help you. It sounds great but after a full day of having random strangers smile at you, cashiers give you extra change, waiters give you free food, and your boss complimenting you, you start to wonder if you’ve won the lottery and everyone knows but you.
For when you can’t stop worrying
There’s chronic anxiety, where you worry about everything, and acute anxiety, where you worry about a particular thing, but what about when you worry about the same old things over and over again? Enter altschmerz, a compound noun made up of two German words—”alt” (old) and “schmerz” (pain). This is the feeling of “weariness from the same old issues you’ve always had, the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years.” (Nervous wreck? Try these 10 natural anxiety remedies at home.)
For when you’re waiting for a visitor
Your best friend from college is coming to visit and you just can’t stop checking your phone and looking out the window to see if she’s almost here. Anticipation? Definitely. But it’s something more complex than that. It’s… Iktsuarpok, an Inuit word which describes “the feeling of anticipation you get when expecting someone, and you keep going outside to check to see if they’ve arrived.”
For when you’re feeling existential angst
Mono no aware literally means “the pathos of things” but is used to describe the feeling when you recognize life’s transience and fragility, how everything is slowly decaying, and yet how beautiful the whole process is. This Japanese word basically sums up the whole reason people go hiking in the desert at night. (And then do these 12 ways to wake up happier every day.)
For when you’re feeling amorous
Kissing is almost always fun but if you’re overwhelmed by a sudden desire to make out with the nearest stranger you might be having basorexia, defined as a visceral hunger or craving for kissing and necking. Here are some fun facts about kissing we’re betting you didn’t know.