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Obscure words to describe how you’re feeling right now 

By October 4, 2020No Comments

We’re feeling a lot of something lately – is it boredom? Apathy? Hunger? Or a hybrid of all of the above? Cassie Delaney finds the obscure words that convey our mutual meh-ness.

I have lots of feelings right now. Most I recognise; moderate but perpetual anxiety, nervousness, excitement. But there are some new emotions in the mix that I don’t quite comprehend. They are unique to 2020, sort of emotional hybrids of sadness and grim fascination. A blend of what-the-fuck meets I-can’t-look-away. Trailing at the back is a sense of acceptance or, rather, a sense of inevitability that I’ve thus far only been able to convey with the confused hands in the air emoji. So I turned to the internet (obviously) in search of answers and these are the obscure words I’ve gathered to convey the current emotional pick ‘n’ mix. 



Aptly, agnosthesia is the confusion of not knowing how you feel about something. 


Shouganai is the aforementioned emoji. It’s Japanese and means ‘it is what it is’ or ‘it can’t be helped.’ It’s a polite defeatism, an acceptance of the situation with an absence of blame. It’s probably uttered immediately after a deep sigh.  


Desiderium is an English word in the family of desire and desideratum. This lesser known cousin means a strong sense of longing for something we once had and wish for again.  


This peculiar nugget of a phrase comes from the old adage “fat-sorrow is better than lean sorrow.” It roughly means a sadness that is alleviated by material things. A sadness that is perhaps eased by the arrival of the postman. Personally I lean more towards the German word kummerspeck (which literally translates to grief bacon). It means an unhappiness that is eased with nice food. Is that banana bread I hear in the distance? 


Remember when your friend’s mom was picking you up to go to a birthday party and you would sit with your jacket on, present in hand, waiting at the door? That’s iktsuarpok. It’s an Inuit word that describes the feeling of excitement or anticipation that comes before a visit, perhaps so much that you repeatedly peer out the window for signs of incoming friends. It’s also used to describe the feeling of incessantly checking your phone to see if you’ve received a text from a crush. 


This German word is gut-punching. It translates to ‘gate-closing panic’ and is used to describe the anxiety around the feeling that time is running out. It’s a word laden with sadness but let me counter it’s literal sense with this anecdote: I did once face the dart through the airport panic of a closing gate but when I arrived at boarding I met Will Young. It was a great day. 


On a more positive note, chrysalism is the sense of tranquility and cosiness that comes from being inside on a stormy day. Lean into this one. Put on the Big Big Movie.   

Dolce Far Niente

This is probably something we could all embrace a little bit. It’s an Italian phrase that means the pleasure of nothingness. The joy of doing sweet fuck all. 

And finally, Compathy

Though traditionally used in a clinical setting, compathy is feelings of happiness or grief shared with others. An emotional togetherness. 



I never endorse violence but this word means a face that is asking to be slapped. 


Images via Unsplash. Main photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash