Relationships

What Words Should Exist in English?

pizza by Stella Blackmon

Last week, Alex and I went to an outdoor restaurant…

We shared a caesar salad, and then I had salmon with the tiniest peas. And the next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I kept getting that satisfied, nostalgic feeling and saying, “That dinner was so good last night.”

There should be a word for that! The glowy feeling the morning after an epic meal.

There should also be words for:
the soothing feeling of organizing a closet
the sadness after finishing a wonderful book
the joy of having a baby fall asleep on you

Recently, the New Yorker wrote about the Positive Lexicography Project, an online glossary of untranslatable words. The leader of the project, psychology lecturer Tim Lomas, specifically searched for words to describe different kinds of happiness. Mamihlapinatapei is Yagán for “a look between people that expresses unspoken but mutual desire.” Norwegians use the word “utepils” to describe “a beer that is enjoyed outside… particularly on the first hot day of the year.” In Arabic, tarab means “musically induced ecstasy or enchantment.” And gigil is Tagalog for “the irresistible urge to pinch/squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished.”

These days, when we’re all trying to find comfort and delight in small things, I’m curious: what kinds of happiness would you want to describe? Or sadnesses? Or pastimes? What else should there be words for in English? xoxo

P.S. 11 untranslatable words from other countries, and the hardest tongue twister.

(Photo by Stella Blackmon.)

  1. Andrea says...

    Peruvian Spanish has a marvelous insult, “conchudo/a,” to describe someone who is so completely full of themselves that they don’t even realize how utterly obnoxious and out-of-bounds they are. Less clinical than “narcissistic,” richer than “self-absorbed”… I think it at people all the time!

  2. Genevieve Martin says...

    The feeling before exercise (or other activities) of really genuinely wanting to be doing it but also really strongly wanting not to do it with different parts of your wanting-brain haha

  3. Jessica C says...

    How about the feeling of utter relief and the sense of safety you get when you are finally home after a long day at work! I close my blinds and take comfort in the fact that no one from my job will come find me—my home is my safe space and I am unreachable until I walk into work the next day.

  4. Hani says...

    I haven’t had a chance to read *all* of these so it has probably been mentioned.
    How about a word for that feeling of longing when you finish a tv show or movie or book and wish you could go back and experience it again(or again!) for the first time?

    This feeling comes up in motherhood often as well. To hold my newborns again like for the first time?! Deep deep sigh.

  5. Jane I. says...

    Anyone listen to the Every Little Thing podcast? They were able to petition for the word nibling to make it into the dictionary. Nibling – a gender-neutral term used to refer to a child of one’s sibling as a replacement for “niece” or “nephew”.

    • Mary says...

      LOVE this! Plus they’re always so cute I just want to nibble their chubby little cheeks!

  6. Jeannie says...

    i often have a word in Korean that I’d love to be able to use in English. If only my non-Korean speaking friends could understand! For example, there is a word for a cunning/sly/clever person that can be used in a positive or negative way. There just isn’t the right equivalent!

  7. Cynthia says...

    This is a wonderful post!

  8. rachel says...

    Saudade, from portugese: a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one cares for and/or loves; a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never be had again. It is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, and well-being, which now trigger the senses and make one experience the pain of separation from those joyous sensations. However it acknowledges that to long for the past would detract from the excitement you feel towards the future. Saudade describes both happy and sad at the same time. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudade

    • Raquel says...

      I knew Saudade would be here :) “I miss …” just doesn’t really capture what saudade is!

    • Jessica says...

      I am of Portuguese descent and my vovo (Portuguese grandmother) passed away just last week. I’ve been reminiscing over her since and this sums up my feelings right now so perfectly. Thank you for sharing this great word.

    • Meredith says...

      This was :::chef’s kiss:::

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love that, carmen!!!

    • jdp says...

      there should be a word for how good those words were.

  9. HS says...

    The brief interlude when you have to make a split second decision and your mind blanks and you wildly just pick something (do I cross the street now? Say yes to that person? Turn left here?) So much potential in that small moment but it also passes so quickly!

  10. Hannah says...

    The feeling I experience once a week when I hear the garbage removal truck driving up to our house early in the morning. It’s a mix of deep appreciation for the work they do for us all, mixed with contentment/“all is well” because of the stability of the routine and a smidge of pride that I remembered to take the trash out in time!

  11. Kerry says...

    In Japanese, “komorebi” means the sunshine filtering through the trees. I love that brilliant yellow-green glow, brings me such happiness.

    Another word is one my son thought of when he was about 4 — “yesternight.” Instead of saying “last night.” I still use it and I want it to be adopted by all!

    • Renata says...

      There’s actually a word for “yesternight” in spanish! It’s “anoche” and literally means exactly “yesternight”. :)

  12. Leah says...

    There was an incredible episode of Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast many years ago in which he spoke to a listener who had a word fetish. He asked her to share some of her favorite words, one of which was the Russian word “razbliuto”. She said there’s not an English equivalent, but it means the tender feeling you have for someone whom you once loved but no longer do. I think about that episode all the time.

  13. Jenny T. says...

    Yarden – my messy attempt to turn our yard into a wildflower garden

  14. Maywyn says...

    I love dictionary reading, and making up words.
    When I look up the domain name for made up words and titles, higher than half are not available domain names, parked (sitting there until somebody buys it) or premium domains names (high priced). If you make up a word, and it isn’t being used on the Interent, trademarked, a business, celebrity, surname, proper name and such, then consider buying the domain name before you post the word for the world to see. Have a cute name for your blog? Before making the blog public, consider buying the domain name before somebody else does.

  15. Lisa says...

    The pure joy I feel when I collect my little girl from nursery, and her face lights up when she sees me and runs over to give me a hug

    • Susan Young says...

      Yes! My little girl is now 20 but I clearly remember that warm, delightful feeling especially after a particularly taxing day at work.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh I LOVE that feeling!

  16. Jessica says...

    That simultaneous feeling of excitement and dread you get on the first day when the weather starts to feel like the season is changing to autumn. The day is dark and brisk, maybe a little damp, you’re probably not dressed warm enough, and you yearn to put on the warmest sweater you have. It feels both like the start of something new and unknown and the end of something fun. It’s exhilarating and mournful.

    • Isabelle says...

      Loooove this!

  17. Megan says...

    The feeling of being in a foreign country experiencing an exquisite, lovely moment that wouldn’t be possible at home. . .Italy comes to mind. . .how I miss traveling.

    • Nadine says...

      Yes I agree ! I miss traveling too and I miss Italy. Such a perfect holiday destination…

  18. Tamara says...

    This one is for parents of older (read: driving) kids: that feeling when everyone is hone and safe and you close the door and click the lock and everyone you love more than oxygen is on the correct side of that door. There needs to be a word for that sigh.

    • Kerry says...

      Oh my — I get this 100%. There needs to be a word for this type of relieved, thankful, warm contentment that for just a few hours, everyone is safe and sound.

      Safeandsounderment?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      safeandsounderment = <3 <3 <3

  19. Yes, definitely! I can totally relate to the joy of organizing a closet (!), as well as the glow of remembering a great meal. I had a similar thought years ago and wrote a post about words we need around organizing. (if you are curious, you can look here: https://www.theseanamethod.com/2014/02/words-we-need/) Our language just lacks some basic words, and I find it interesting when another language has the word we lack.

    • Carolyn says...

      Seana–Your new words are fantastic! I personally have two “megamessers” at home, my 4 and 6 year old boys. Yipes! Also, I definitely get “freeluctance,” but more of the guilt of ditching things that were gifts or have some family history. Maybe there could be a broader word for the reluctance and guilt at getting rid of things???

  20. Molly says...

    The feeling you get when a new book or movie in a series or a new season of a television show is released – the feeling of being “reunited” after some time away. That sort of warm and fuzzy excitement and anticipation mixed with relief that the wait is over.

    I distinctly remember this feeling when the 7th (and last) Harry Potter book, new seasons of Game of Thrones, VEEP, The Office.

    • JR says...

      This is such a good one, Molly! I had that exact feeling seeing the Downton Abbey Christmas special at the movie theater last year (remember movie theaters?!). When the opening credits and theme song started playing, I teared up. The whole theater visibly sighed and settled into their chairs. What a moment!

  21. Diane says...

    I second this.

  22. Erin says...

    The moment you realize you bought something for a holiday the previous year (usually on sale, post holiday) and packed it away and forgot all about it, but suddenly find it and are very excited. There should be a word for that! I love that feeling!

  23. Rusty says...

    Yagan!
    Yagan is the name of a famous Western Australian Aboriginal Elder whose head was cut off and taken to Britain back in the day when horrendous things like that were “scientific.”
    A hard fought paper battle was waged to have Yagan’s head returned and so, it was. We now honour him with statues and a new square in the heart of Perth city called quite obviously) Yagan Square. Thank goodness times have changed….mostly.

    Great topic!

    Joanna, with all the images of Helen Reddy (oh, what a w-o-m-a-n!), I keep thinking of you!
    Some similar features and such a strong keeper of the Sisterhood. I’d like to say a big thank uou for all that YOU do.
    This place is such a comfort, while stretching my mind at the same time!
    Rusty xx

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      rusty, that means so much to me! thank you so much. xoxo

  24. Claire says...

    These comments are like poetry this morning. So lovely.
    Here are my contributions:
    The moment when, after an extended period of long difficulty, you know with absolute calm certainty that you are going to be ok.
    The feeling of rightness and relief and joy that comes when finally you are able to reconcile with an estranged absent friend who you have been missing for a long time.
    Being outside first thing in the early morning and feeling acutely awake and alive.

    (I’d also like to recommend Susie Dent’s twitter account. She is a lexicographer and etymologis, and her word of the day tweets are interesting and fun. Today’s word is “mubble-fubbles….a 16th century term for feeling despondency and a sense of impending doom”.)

    • ML says...

      “ The moment when, after an extended period of long difficulty, you know with absolute calm certainty that you are going to be ok.” – yes, this! I’ve been trying to find that word recently & all I’ve come up with is peace, relief, gratitude… it needs a word!

      And just followed Susie. Thank you!

  25. Shannon says...

    I would ask for a word to describe the reoccurring shock after a loved one dies when something comes to mind that you realize you can’t ask them or say to them. So close to mind but so far from reach.

    • Y says...

      I just described that feeling to my teenager last night. We keep having to stop ourselves from wanting to share something with my sister, who we lost this summer. We don’t have a word for that, but it definitely is a reoccurring shock.

  26. Naomi says...

    The feeling of relief you get when you end or leave a social engagement.

    (Just me?)

    • Ioana says...

      Nope! I second that.

  27. Michelle says...

    Can we make these comments into a book? The comfort and warmth I get from this post and the comments is what I needed in 2020.

  28. Lauren E. says...

    The post-beach-post-shower bliss of being kind of sun-tired and clean and ready for dinner. God, I’m dying for it these days!!

    • Audrey says...

      Yes! The best feeling in the world.

    • LL says...

      YES!!! Especially if it was a post-beach outdoor shower.

    • Megan says...

      YES, my absolute favorite feeling.

    • JR says...

      YES! One of the best feelings in the world.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!

    • Samantha says...

      Yes!! I always think of this as being sun-cozy.

    • Mariah says...

      YES! This is such an amazing feeling!

  29. Nana says...

    In Japanese it’s “arigata meiwaku” – and part of the stress of it is that you have to say thank you for the favor and reciprocate at some point, even though you may not be thankful at all!

  30. Naomi PM Kuromiya says...

    In Japanese it’s “arigata meiwaku” – and part of the stress of it is that you have to say thank you for the favor and reciprocate at some point, even though you may not be thankful at all!

  31. Gila WM says...

    M – – – this post is poetry and perfection. thank you.

  32. Christina Carrigan says...

    The Japanese word shinrin-yoku literally means forest bathing. It’s the feeling associated with the physiological and psychological exercise of being in nature. I love it. And need more of it in 2020.

  33. hm says...

    The feeling you get when you’re watching your kid and they’re about to take a bad fall, usually on concrete.

    I call it “full-body hamburger knees,” but there should be a word!

  34. My mom is francophone and my father is hispanic, so I grew up speaking French and Spanish and learned English later on. The number one thing that blows my mind about the English language is that you don’t have an expression to wish someone a good meal!! How??? Haha

  35. A word for that flush of joy you feel when someone you love has accomplished something momentous. It’s not pride, exactly. It’s as if they’ve reached the peak of some wonderful mountain, and you’re standing there with them, basking in that glow. It’s a kind of joy-by-osmosis.

  36. Kate says...

    I love my family more than I can possibly explain, and I live in a beautiful part of the world. And still, each fall I get homesick, just as I did each year I’d leave for college. But it’s not just for the home I grew up in. It seems also to be nostalgic for some long since gone naïveté, for the eagerness and hopefulness and protectedness that my 18-22 year old self knew (but most certainly took for granted). What’s the word for that?

    • Raquel says...

      the word you are looking for is Saudade!

  37. Lindsey says...

    The moment you step outside after your last exam on the last day of school — glorious freedom!

  38. a.n. says...

    when you hear a song from your early teen years when you were full of angst and hormones and maybe some depression and you’re like “oh god i love and hate this song so much at the same time!” – no? just me?? haha

    • Barbara says...

      that’s a good one, a very particular brand of nostalgia that isn’t just happy. it’s how I felt reading “normal people” as well. hating how much I missed having such wild, strong emotions of being young (in this case, late teens/early college) and dumb.

    • Yes! I agree! I have a few of those songs too.

    • sarah says...

      yes!!! this is such a particular feeling!

  39. M says...

    Yesterday, I got a package and I tucked it away because I thought it was a gift that I had ordered for my husband’s birthday. But when I went to open it this morning, in secret, in my closet, I found that it was actually a surprise gift for me. From my best friend’s mom. For no occasion, except she was thinking of me. It was a book of poetry “How to Fly” by Barbara Kingsolver with a note, “I love these poems and thought you would too.” I am substitute teacher by day, aspiring poet by night. So what is the word for the most perfect, unexpected gift? What is the word for women supporting? For older women holding younger women’s dreams near and dear to them? What is the word for when your best friend’s family becomes like an extension of your family because the bond you have is like that of a marriage, but without the written contract?

    • Cookie says...

      Love this. ❤

  40. Kay says...

    The glowy warmth you feel after putting dry clothes on after being in a wet bathing suit!

    • Yes! And also getting home in rain-soaked clothes and taking a hot shower and changing into dry clothes!

    • Liz says...

      The first time you put on socks after months of bare feet in summer.

  41. Nicole A. says...

    The feeling you get when a dog passing by on the street with it’s owner pulls on it’s leash to say hi to you.

  42. Kari T. says...

    It strikes me how many people here have described a feeling or event in such beautiful ways using the words and punctuation we have at our disposal. I’d like to humbly promote the beauty of a descriptive sentence or paragraph that can transport you to places that no single word could ever accomplish.

  43. Avigail says...

    The achey deep soul pain of loving your kids too much. It just hurts to love someone so much!

  44. Selin says...

    In Turkish, my favorite word is “muhabbet” , which has many meanings that can be translated simply as “a conversation or to chat about something” . But the actual meaning of the word is a heart warming conversation with your loved ones. A “muhabbet” is a deep conversation that makes you feel closer to the other person, and is a must when you’re drinking “raki” with friends!

    • Sarz says...

      Muhabbet. That’s so lovely. ☺️

    • Selin says...

      :) I always feel like we are having a “muhabbet” here at Cup of Jo with all the lovely people here.

  45. Amy says...

    Not sure if this one’s still relevant with stay at home order, but how about a word for that sweet, sweet relief when you take your bra off after a long day of work — oomph!

    • Siheme Sebaa says...

      Oh yes there needs to be a word for that!

  46. One of my students made a podcast about disappearing languages. She sampled a recording of Joyce Walkus from the Kwakiutl Nation (Vancouver) asking the meaning of a single word her grandfather used to address her mother. She assumed it was something like “darling” or “sweetie.” He said “No, it goes deeper than that. It’s almost like you could say, you are the reason for every breath that I take.” It was the first time a student project made me cry! See the whole video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqleT-kB6GU

    • Michelle says...

      This is absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Meghan says...

      Thank you Tawnya! I’m a Vancouver teacher and I’ve used this clip in class today during our Orange Shirt day discussion (a day of recognition of the legacy of residential schools). How beautiful!

  47. Kato says...

    Missing your baby when he/she is right there with you. Somehow already feeling them grow up and every moment slip away.
    Oh and there definitely should be a word for early morning coffee outside; the best!

  48. Lena says...

    My husband sent me this yesterday to describe us when taking care of our toddler: “kuchisabishii”, which is Japanese for “when you’re not hungry but you eat because your mouth is lonely”

  49. Cate says...

    A word for that moment when all the stars align with newly shaved legs, post shower feeling and new clean bedding. Best feeling in the world :)

  50. Neela says...

    A word for the joy one feels when after nearly six months of cold and oppressive grey in certain parts of Europe, you know, whilst holding your face to the sun, that Winter is fiiinally over! Already looking forward to that one, and Autumn has only just started…

  51. Meghan says...

    The comfort-y satisfaction you get when you reread a book you’ve read a thousand times before. The book should be an old paperback, with a super ragged spine and dogeared edges. Maybe its pages have yellowed with age, or it automatically falls open to a certain sections.

    • Erin says...

      I think we also need a related word for the phenomenon of cookbooks falling open at certain recipes you’ve cooked over and over.

  52. Lindsey says...

    Irusu (Japanese) is when somebody you don’t want to speak to rings your doorbell, and you pretend nobody’s at home. :-) Wish there was a word in English to capture this.

  53. Becca Lynn says...

    Salmon and Caesar salad is literally my favorite meal omg.
    With a side of fries and Mayo! And an old fashioned!

  54. Rachael says...

    “Nachas” in Yiddish means the joy you feel from having children/grandchildren and watching them grow and succeed. There should be an English word for that, or you can just say “nachas” (with the throaty ‘h’ sound, not like nachos).

  55. Katy says...

    Summer in Seattle is an epic but short lived season. People always loose their minds on the first nice day and go all out. And then as the weeks unfold, there’s a pressure to do all your treasured outdoor activities and soak up the good weather. Seattleites need a word for that. And then another word for when the first rainy fall day arrives and everyone is so relieved to slow down and stay holed up inside doing cozy things. It’s as if the whole PNW has a collective sigh of relief!

    • A says...

      Yes, fellow Seattleite. That stressed out pressure feeling all summer! Like, if I miss a nice day outside for whatever reason, I feel so upset with myself!

  56. Suzie says...

    The quiet joy that is owning a brand new book.

  57. Jesse says...

    That feeling of complete exhaustion and utter contentment you get after a day in the ocean your hair crackling from the salt.

  58. Lucy says...

    Puppy breath! We shouldn’t need two words to describe this amazingness.

  59. Borshi says...

    I’m Hungarian married to an American and I discovered that there is no word for the relationship between two Mother in-laws (or FIL for that matter).
    My Mom would have to say in English “my son in-law’s Mother”.
    It’s called “nászasszonyom” for the MIL and “nászuram” for the FIL in my country.

    • Marina Martins says...

      In Portuguese we have specific words for that, too: comadre (MIL) and compadre (FIL).

  60. Kelly says...

    I wish there was a word for the feeling of calm being outside in the morning (walking the dog) on a holiday, ie Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Something about the air seems more still, less traffic noise, almost magical feeling. Knowing most people are just inside celebrating with loved ones. It’s weird but I can feel it even describing this.

    • Megan says...

      Kelly, this is such a good one!!

    • Kerry says...

      Yes, I get this one! That’s a really good feeling. Happiness combined with anticipation, but calm.

    • Carol Barclay says...

      I love a walk just after sunset on those holidays. I can look in windows, see the warm glow, and savor the families gathered around a table. It feels universal.

  61. Deborah says...

    Eeeeeeee! Tim Lomas is a dear friend. I am so giddy to see his wonderful work referenced on this wonderful site. My worlds are colliding!

  62. TJ says...

    The smell of fallen, decomposing leaves in autumn needs a great word. I love that scent.

    Also requiring a word: the feeling of putting on dry clothes after wearing a bathing suit all day.

  63. That feeling of excitement when the lights dim at the theater and you know that the show/movie is about to start.

    Also, that sense of relief that happens when you finally sit down at the end of the day — when the kids are finally asleep, the house is picked up, and the dishes are done.

  64. Anna says...

    A word for when someone does something for you that they think is an act of kindness and it actually results in more stress/work/obligation (ie, has the opposite effect). I think I read somewhere that such a word exists in Japanese – I think we definitely need an equivalent in English!

    • Amy says...

      Like giving flowers as a gift! Perfect! (I know some folks love them, but for me, that Japanese word would be perfect t!)

    • Sarah says...

      It exists, at least in Danish. It is called a “bjørnetjeneste” (“bear favour”); from La Fontaines fable about a bear trying to help a human but ending up injuring him instead. Don’t know if it’s exactly the same meaning but comes close maybe?

    • Gert says...

      There is a German word for that. It is “Bärendienst” … translated it would be something like “a bear’s favor”. It comes from a fable about a bear that meets a gardener sleeping underneath a tree. There is a fly sitting on the gardener’s nose, and the bear wants to help the man and kill the fly. So he throws a huge stone … he kills the fly – and the gardener.

    • JenMarie says...

      Early in our relationship, I gave my husband 4 antique prints of bugs as a gift. I thought it was genius — the prints were beautiful and he loves ants. BUT, it was actually a lousy gift. These were beetles, not ants (I love beetles and probably thought, eh, close enough!). And getting them framed turned out to be complicated and expensive for him. He was gracious about the whole thing but when we eventually discussed it, I realized how thoughtless my thoughtful gift was. Since then, I’ve never given gifts that require further action by the recipients (and if I ever give flowers, I make sure they show up in a vase or jelly jar!).

  65. Ramya says...

    My favorite word that doesn’t exist in the English language is the Portuguese “sodade” – longing, nostalgia, yearning, but something a bit more than all of that. The word evokes walking through a backstreet in Lisbon at dusk, the soft refrain of a fado somewhere in the background, thinking about loves lost, past encounters, soulful embraces. It seems all the more apropos this year!

    • KRez says...

      Yes!! Totally agree.

    • Meghan says...

      How beautiful! I’m Portuguese, by way of Macao and then Canada, and your description gives me a nostalgic feeling for a homeland I’ve never lived in.

    • Joana says...

      it’s saudade :)

      and it’s exactly what i was going to say. we use it more often to express missing someone, or something, or a time… we are very nostalgic :)

    • Cris F says...

      saudade :)

    • Madalena says...

      Megan – that really is the best translation for saudade, nostalgia for something that one has not experienced – longing for a homeland you never visited or for a love you never expereienced.

    • Marina Martins says...

      In Portuguese that word is spelled “saudade”.
      “Sodade” is the equivalent word used in Cabo Verde (an island in the west coast of africa – ancient portuguese colony) – local language “crioulo”.

  66. Lauren says...

    When you can’t zip up your pants because the zipper tab gets caught in the folds of the fabric.

    • Neela says...

      Lol

    • Alex says...

      Ha, ha! Yes!

  67. LKB says...

    Oh! That conflicting and overwhelming feeling of desperately wanting your baby to fall asleep so you can get a break from her, only to have her then fall asleep, and you just want to stay where you are, holding her for hours.

    • Alice says...

      Just experienced this approximately 10 minutes ago! Good one.

    • Taylor says...

      Reaching for someone’s hand at the same time they reach for yours—without looking at one another. Watching the light change through stained glass. Walking back into your home after some time away and knowing what it smells like for just a second.

  68. Paula says...

    the sensation of a shower after a day on the beach

    • H says...

      Yes!!

    • Alison Briggs says...

      OMG YES! One of my favorite feelings! :)

  69. Elysha says...

    Machatunim is a Yiddish word that describes the relationship between your parents and your spouse’s parents. There is no English word for that and I am often telling people about this word and their response is always, “We need an English word for this!”

    • Anna says...

      Yes! In Spanish they are called “consuegros” and they will introduce each other like that. Instead of saying, “this is my daughter-in-law’s father…” they can just say, “this is my consuegro.” I always felt like an English word was needed here, too!

    • Kimberly says...

      Spanish has a word for this: “consuegros,” as well as a word that describes the relationship between your grandparents (“coabuelos”). It’s an interesting commentary on English that it doesn’t have words for these relationships…definitely a less warm, less open culture than Latin culture in my book.

    • Hannah says...

      Well, we English are famously cold, reserved and formal :-)

    • Stephanie says...

      In my family we use the word out-laws. In a friendly living way.

    • Stephanie says...

      I meant loving!

  70. Erica says...

    That feeling when the last of summer days suddenly shifts to fall – you can feel it in the air, notice it in the way the light moves through the sky. And then you have to grab a light sweater because there’s a noticeable chill, and in a brief, fleeting moment, you breathe it all in – this feeling that the season of introspection begins.

    • Aliez says...

      Yes! This is so beautifully described

  71. Lauren says...

    the feeling of warm sun on your skin :)

  72. Hillary F. says...

    That feeling when you really want another cocktail but know you shouldn’t and then resist. :)

    • ED says...

      That feeling when you really want another cocktail and you order it with reckless abandon….

      And the feeling when you finally arrive home after a fun, too boozy night out with friends, and it’s late, and you’re drunker than you should be, and you lay down in your comfortable bed with a big cup of water, head buzzing with the music and conversation with friends, and you quickly doze off….

      I like both a responsibly sober night and an indulgently boozy one. Balance!

  73. Sophia F. says...

    I was joking with my friend recently about my new parenting concept, to mompromise (verb, also can be a noun): to accede to your kid’s low-stakes demands to achieve your parenting goals. See: posing with my six-year-old with dorky peace signs because I want to have pictures to look back on, saying yes to pajama pants under a dress with a colossally oversized tee-shirt to school for my four-year-old because you dressed yourself without my asking and that’s a win. Mompromising is like the CoJ classic “aim for yes” – be accommodating, be flexible, don’t be perfect :)

    • Bb says...

      The feeling of relief that comes when a baby wakes up to nurse just when your boob is about to explode with milk. The physical sensation of the pain abating along with the joy of being reunited with your tiny being and the wonder of the symbiotic relationship two creatures can have.

      Also words for all the different baby sounds.

  74. EEBR says...

    So disappointed to hear you’re dining out. One’s desire for a fun “normal” dinner out shouldn’t outweigh keeping restaurant staff safe. Support your favorite restaurants with takeout!

    • Susan says...

      Please stop

    • victoria says...

      The restaurant staff needs to keep their job…

    • Hannah says...

      Thank you for addressing this. My partner is a restaurant worker, and as a group their wellbeing has been overlooked throughout this pandemic experience. A server cannot socially distance while serving you. Cooks and other workers often cannot socially distance from others in cramped kitchens and serving spaces. Most of all, having others cook your food and serve you is NOT an essential service! I don’t blame Joanna for eating out, but I do agree it is something that should be done with care and consideration, with a perspective on the wider implications on others who may be less fortunate than ourselves.

    • Aly says...

      We are talking about brownstone Brooklyn. ALL dining is outdoors and masked. Joanna’s neighborhood has a mask-wearing rate of about 97% or higher and a COVID positive rate under 1%. The restaurant industry is dangling by a thread and there are lives, mental health, and livelihoods at stake. The issue is complicated and varies by region, but in our neighborhood, dining out is one of the safest and best ways to contribute to our community.

    • S says...

      Doesn’t keeping them safe also mean providing them with a paycheck? Supporting a restaurant with takeout is a good option, but it still means many servers won’t be working and getting paid.

    • Sarah says...

      You have no idea if they were indoors or outdoors, first of all. Second, cool it with the judgment. You must think you’re perfect if you feel the need to call out others like this.

    • Dee Nargi says...

      Yes please stop

  75. I also want a word for the sadness when you’ve finished a wonderful book.
    Also, a word for the joy experienced on the longest days of the year (the extra light).

  76. Meg L says...

    I’ve been thinking a lot about that blurry time in the airport after your flight has landed, when you’re more dazed than excited, and you’re looking for baggage claim while keeping an eye out for a bathroom, and while you wait for your luggage, you text loved ones “We made it!” even though you know it’ll be a few hours before they wake up and see it. What’s the word for that time? <3

  77. Jennifer says...

    …when friends are sitting around the table and you are happy, and thankful, and in love with them. It’s almost painful.

    • L says...

      Yes! It’s the absolute best.

    • Jade says...

      This reminds me of the Spanish word sobremesa which literally means “over the table,” the more meaningful translation is a bit longer-winded. It’s that time spent after a meal, hanging out with family or friends, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. It can be applied to either lunch or dinner, and often includes family members, but also friends — and it can even include a business lunch.

    • Dee Nargi says...

      Love this!

  78. These remind me of the scene in Amélie when they’re describing each characters favorite small pleasures! (Dipping fingers into a sack of grain, crackling the top layer of crème brûlée).

    This week I’ve been thinking there should be a word for the exciting moment when you’re reading a recipe in a cookbook that you’d love to try and you realize you have every. single. ingredient already!

    • beth says...

      I love that movie so much!

    • KA says...

      A lovely friend always asked people at parties and dinners what their “Amelie things” were and would explain that scene. I loved being a part of those conversations and hearing about the small joys and irritations of other people.

  79. Annie says...

    One of my favorite Spanish words is “sobremesa” which is the time after dinner when you linger to chat, maybe savoring wine or coffee. It is one of my favorite moments in life and I love that it has it’s own word.

    • ale norris says...

      i also love sobremesa! and i love that it translates in to, kind of, “over the table” – so simple.

    • Heather says...

      Oh I love this and it makes me long for it so much – missing those extended chats with family right now!

  80. Cheryl says...

    Sunshowers! Those rare occasions when a soft summer rain occurs when the sun is shining. The best!

  81. jess says...

    A word for an ephemeral spiritual longing for . . .??? hard to describe the feeling

    • Melodie says...

      There’s a German word for that! “Sehnsucht.” C. S. Lewis talks about it a lot in his autobiography, “Surprised by Joy.”

    • Jess says...

      Indian languages have a lot of words that don’t exist in English, especially for different feelings of love, lust, longing, grief, and missing. It makes Punjabi, Urdu, and Hindi poetry and music so beautiful. (I’m sure other Indian languages are similar, I’m just not familiar with them.)

  82. elle says...

    I read an interesting article called “How the Internet Changed the Meaning of ‘Mamihlapinatapai'”.

    Anna Daigneault of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, was quoted as saying: “I think through a Western lens, it might appear that this word has a romantic undertone, but it might not be used in that way in the Yaghan language.” She thought it might be closer to “a strong, shared glance that connects the two speakers in some way that is beyond words.”

    I think the feeling described in the Western definition of the word is so universal, and so it’s wonderful to be able to express it with a single word. It’s also interesting to learn that the word may have an entirely different meaning in its place of origin. Changes in meaning seem to be very common when words are brought from one culture to another.

    atlasobscura.com/articles/mamihlapinatapai

  83. JT says...

    The intense flood of relief when you wake up from a sad or anxious dream and realize that everything is completely OK. (You didn’t forget to study for a test! The brakes on your car still work when you’re going downhill! Your kids are happily sleeping in bed!) The world as it is suddenly seems so much more welcoming.

    • Michal Conger says...

      Yes, this!!

    • liz says...

      yes!

    • Kylee says...

      This just happened to me last night! Heart beating out of my chest, to realize it was all just a bad dream…

    • Ker says...

      Such a good one!

    • Rosalie says...

      Yes! And also the opposite, the feeling of confused and crushing sadness when you wake up from a really delicious dream. (I’m not kissing my crush? I didn’t amaze my colleagues with a brilliant presentation? My house is still small and untidy?) That moment of realization as you settle back into your actual life feels achingly disappointing.

  84. Kellie says...

    I love the feeling of contentment/comfort/excitement of having just bought a lot of food and restocking the refrigerator and pantry. My sister and I have tried coming up with a succinct word for it but haven’t found anything satisfying!

    • Kristin says...

      Haha, I agree with this! For me, I’d include having homemade chicken stock in the freezer bc I started that as a quarantine project and find it so incredibly comforting, if maybe a little silly ?

    • Kellie says...

      Kristin- absolutely! So many possibilities!

    • JR says...

      SUCH a good one! It makes me feel so warm and happy to have a stocked fridge and pantry on Sundays to start the week.

    • C says...

      My family calls this “cornucopia”

  85. Brooke says...

    I need a word for “sniffing my child and thinking he smells good even as a filthy four-year-old.” That sweat mixed with peanutbutter and grass never gets old. Will I still be doing this when he’s 15 and just smells of straight BO??

    • Sarah says...

      As the mother of a 15 year old, I assure you that you will still sniff. That is, when you lets you.

    • Sarah says...

      As the mother of a 15 year old boy I assure you that you will still sniff. That is, when he lets you.

  86. Tazza says...

    When you feel nostalgic for a joyful moment or experience as it’s happening because it will soon be in the past.

  87. beth says...

    Somebody has probably already posted about this book already: ‘Lost In Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World’ by Ella Frances Sanders, but it’s a favorite of mine. One word from the book that sticks out because I relate it to so many Cup of Jo posts, “commuovere,” an Italian verb meaning to be moved in a heartwarming way, usually relating to a story that moved you to tears. I turn to this book again and again.

    • Jamie says...

      Ah Beth,
      And this is why I still make time to follow COJ, that exact feeling of “commuovere.” It is my absolute favorite and that is the perfect explanation.

  88. I think “gigil” can also mean the urge to BITE in response to overwhelming emotion (I once Googled to see if there was a word for wanting to bite a cute, chunky baby…).

  89. Meg says...

    Re the glowy feeling the next morning after an amazing meal: One time I had an incredible meal in France, and that night I dreamt that I got hit by a car and died and I floated up to heaven and it turned out that heaven was just an eternal meal at that restaurant I’d just eaten at. I woke up and thought, “yeah that sounds about right.”

    An english word that I need, is for the sensation of doing something that you love but that you know won’t last forever, and feeling so grateful for it right in that very moment knowing that you’ll miss it dearly when it’s over. It’s almost like experiencing the nostalgia pre-emptively. Is there a word for that??

  90. jane says...

    That feeling when you step outside into a beautiful day after a deeply focused entire day – or days – of being online. It is overwhelmingly wonderful, how the intensity of nature instantly engulfs your senses, how the entire body and being instantly expands to soak up the natural world. What is that word?

    • Susannah says...

      Yes! And not even a beautiful day – a rain shower, or blustery wind. Some type of instant perspective and connection with the outside world

  91. Joyce says...

    The feeling of relief when your child is in their crib, sleeping peacefully, after a really long day, and now somehow, you miss them. :)

    • Em says...

      Isn’t that just the funniest? Sometimes I look at my husband and ask him if he wants to wake them up with me and I am only half joking!

    • Kate says...

      Yes!! Reading this now as I rock my baby to sleep after a rough day… and as much as I want her to go to sleep (so I can watch the debate with my husband!) – I also know I am going to miss her. The feeling makes no sense but is so real.

  92. E says...

    This one isn’t strictly positive, but is there a word for having too much indoor work when it’s nice outside? Something that captures the particular melancholy of studying for boards in August or fixing a toilet on a Saturday when the leaves have just started to turn? This is the word kids would use when they suggest that their teacher takes the reading circle outside, just for today.

    • Sarah says...

      I experience this feeling frequently and wish there were a word for it.

  93. R says...

    After a long trip away overseas experiencing a different hemisphere and season, and an exhausting international flight home – that feeling of arriving home, driving up our tree lined street that’s now vibrantly with new leaves, it’s like our neighbourhood is welcoming us home.

  94. Ruth says...

    The joy of seeing a loved one (friend or family!) after a long absence. ❤️

  95. Rebecca Blake says...

    I have always thought that there should be a word for that glowy/peaceful/calm part of the evening after the kids are tucked in bed asleep and you get to do whatever you want. Sit on your bed and scroll through Instagram – sure! Binge on Netflix – heck yes! Zone out on my bed – definitely. But there is definitely a marked shift in the way my body feels during this time, and I think we need a word for it.

    • M says...

      Was going to write the same thing! Love how you worded it.

  96. Ashley says...

    There needs to be a word for that calm stillness that you only find on Ontario lakes early in the morning. And that moment where you and your canoe partner get into a nice paddling groove.

    • anje says...

      mooood

  97. Emily says...

    The reflection of the sun on the water!

    The Swedish language has, “Mångata”, which describes the roadlike reflection of the moon on the water.

    The sparkles on the water from the sun on a beautiful and sunny day though? We all need a word for that…

    • LEO says...

      A “sunglade” is a patch or stretch of sunlight reflected on the surface of water.

      Doesn’t say anything about sparkles though!

  98. Adel says...

    The beautiful, morally elevated feeling of holding back a snide comment because you chose to take the high road. Especially if it was funny!

  99. Courtney says...

    Can we have a word for that perfect response you just came up with to that thing that happened yesterday/6 months ago/when you were in high school?

    • beth says...

      Ah- yes, it is the Yiddish word “trepverter,” a witty riposte or comeback you think of only when it is too late to use. It translates literally to “staircase words”!

    • anje says...

      l’esprit d’escalier in french

  100. Laura says...

    When you have the radio on in the car and you suddenly realize you’ve been listening to a terrible song but hadn’t been paying attention.

    • Calla says...

      Hahahaha yes I love this

  101. Ceridwen says...

    I write a daily post for teachers and staff at the school I work and during remote learning, I included a wellbeing note. On one day, I shared this article and included those same words you have shared – I love gigil! There is something similar in Lebanese but when translated in English it sounds like an offensive swear word. My husband is Lebanese and he has never been able to explain it to me but I understand the feeling.

  102. Izzy says...

    Yes, I get this all the time, Caitlin! I was wondering if there is a word for that too, and I’m sure there is some beautiful untranslatable word for that. I do remember reading an excerpt from a poem by T.S. Eliot that encapsulated that feeling so well for me:

    “This is one moment / But know that another / shall pierce you with a sudden painful joy.”

    Some other words that I love a lot:
    Saudade (Portuguese) – a strong feeling of missing someone (or a place or a feeling or a situation) that you love.
    Koi No Yokan (Japanese) – upon meeting someone, a feeling that the two of you may soon fall in love.
    Mono no aware (Japanese) – the poignancy or sadness of transient things.

    There are so many good ones out there – this post (and your comment) made my whole day! It’s so nice to know that we’re not alone in this sometimes very lonely feeling time.

    • Madalena says...

      Saudade is also used to explain a feeling of nostalgia for something or someone that one has never experienced. It’s the most perfect word!

  103. Allie says...

    “The taste and gratification of biting into something you have been craving and its even better than you anticipated.”

    There’s sorta a word for this – foodgasm! ;)

  104. Lorraine says...

    I think it was in the book “Middlesex” (maybe?) where the author talked about that sadness one feels as they notice their parents aging. It’s something I started experiencing over a decade ago, so it’s interesting how time is relative – my parents of 10 years ago might not seem as old to present me. But yes, that sadness is a very vivid sensation I grapple with especially now during this pandemic.

    • Rosalie says...

      Me, too! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

  105. Mariah says...

    I always want a more direct translation for the Spanish word ‘tranquilo’, which I use often when speaking Spanish with my family. It is a better/more nuanced word than tranquil, which we don’t use that much in every day conversational English. Tranquilo describes so many great places, feelings, situations and you can use it to say ‘take it easy’ or ‘calm down’ to someone but it is actually soothing and doesn’t have the opposite effect that saying those phrases usually does in English.

    • Anna says...

      I love hearing “tranquilo” from watching Money Heist

    • Calla says...

      I’ve always wondered about this! Whenever I would watch cycling coverage and they would dub over the interviews with Spanish cyclists they would always talk about feeling really “tranquil” which I thought was such an phrase to be so prevalent.

  106. That feeling in fall, especially in New England, when you’re at a farm stand and look at the bounty of the harvest in all the freshly picked fruits and vegetables, and notice the beauty of the stacked piles of hay and the green stretches of land surrounding you. And you just feel wonderful.

  107. Caitlin says...

    Does anyone else feel almost sad when they experience something beautiful? Is there a word for that? Like when you read a really beautiful poem and feel almost…melancholy after? My niece is so earnest and truly herself that it makes my eyes tear up. My little nephew is such a kind child that it feels like my heart is breaking sometimes. Is there already a word that describes this specific emotion? Am I the only one who gets this way?

    • Megan says...

      I feel this way all the time ❤️❤️❤️ Definitely needs a word!

    • Em says...

      I experience this. I think it’s because intense emotions are layered and interdependent. For example, we experience intense joy only because we also experience intense suffering – the depth of one is necessary to create the depth of the other. So when you love somebody so much that it hurts, it’s because you know that in addition to love, hurt and pain and loss are real and even inevitable.

      Like knowing that in order for Saturdays to feel awesome, Mondays have to suck :)

    • beth says...

      I know the feeling for sure, if not the right word!

      Sort of similar, but not exactly the same, the Welsh word “hiraeth” which means a homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were.

    • Elise says...

      Yes! This, exactly this! And the similar feeling when you listen to a sad song or read a sad book and it’s so sad, but so beautiful and the beauty of it makes you feel that same sense of melancholy. I call it happy-sad, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling. It’s not quite happiness – it’s definitely sad, but in a good, beautiful, maybe content way?

  108. L says...

    My daughter has been discussing emotions in her first grade class, and she told me on Sunday that she wants a word for the feeling of getting to go to the bathroom after you hold it for a while. “It’s like excitement except the thing you’re excited for is pee and that’s not exciting.” ?

    • Rebecca says...

      I come from a family with tiny bladders. My brother has a list of his top 10 pees (some of which happened at least 20 years ago. And yes he is happy to share ?). But your daughter is right, pee isn’t exciting but going pee can be so great!

    • s says...

      That’s so cute!

  109. Nina says...

    The smell of the first snow of the season! That crisp air that feels a little cleansing. Aaaah, can’t wait!

  110. Lea says...

    I’ve been waiting for Cup of Jo to write about this project ever since I read about it! Felt like it would fit in perfectly with this blog :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      aww, I love that you thought that, lea. <3

  111. amanda says...

    I need a word for the smug satisfaction I feel when I send a nasty response to the Republican texts I keep getting!

    • Courtney Cooper says...

      HAHAHA

  112. Sadie says...

    “Ha det bra!” is used as a way to say goodbye in Norwegian. It translates, “Have it good!” and it often shortened to, “Have it!” In a harsh climate, Norwegian culture focuses on an experience being what you make it, “Have it!”, seems very fitting.

    • Lisa says...

      That reminds me of my time abroad – the Norwegians in our community would always say “Ha det!”
      Thanks for taking me back in time :)

  113. Mika says...

    I studied abroad in Germany and love the way they have big words to describe things that we don’t have in English. I can’t remember a single word(!), but I feel like the English vocabulary is both the greatest strength and weakness of our culture – in that we often lack the appropriate words to describe how we’re feeling – and subsequently feel stuck or frustrated.

  114. Alex says...

    Just saw this on comments on HONY. I cannot take credit but I relate to this feeling!

    When you love a movie so much that you sit through all of the credits at the movie theater, and then there’s a surprise bonus scene!

    • jane says...

      the best ; D

  115. Mariah says...

    I love this post so much!

    – The feeling of getting into a freshly made bed after taking a bath/shower (also using freshly- laundered and preferably hung out to dry in the summer towels)
    – That overwhelming feeling of loving someone/something (a pet) so much that you literally clench your jaw and talk through gritted teeth wanting to squeeze the bejesus out of them and telling them you love them.
    – Cozying up next to a crackling fire while it’s snowing and you can hear the wind howling, but you are dry and warm. (drinking one of the following: hot cocoa, hot apple cider, tea, wine)
    – The musty smell right after it rains and starts to get sunny again and you lookup for a rainbow
    – The taste and gratification of biting into something you have been craving and its even better than you anticipated.
    – the memory brought back by either a song or food that is so vivid you can remember the moment as if you were right there again.
    – The crisp and smokey, clean smell of the first fall day that invigorates your throat and lungs
    – The bliss of being so incredibly comfortable in bed and being so content but also dreading the inevitable moment you have to get up.
    – The satisfying sound/feeling of cutting sturdy, well-made wrapping paper or getting the perfect curl to a ribbon (I might be the only weirdo who likes that :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these are all so good! “The feeling of getting into a freshly made bed after taking a bath/shower” = bonus points if you just shaved your legs!

    • jane says...

      neeeuw, definitely not the only one!

    • Mariah says...

      @joanna – YES! 100%

      @Jane – yay!

    • Courtney says...

      I love this list so much – it reminds me of how many truly joyful little moments there are in life. And I love that you notice them enough to create this list – I nodded along agreeing to them all, but I would have been hard pressed to come up with the list on my own I think. I’ve saved this to read when I start to feel like life is bleak (as I do whenever I read the news…)

  116. Jo says...

    Ah, I love this so much. I need a word for when you’ve just sunk onto the couch in your comfiest house clothes and you’re about to take the first bite of a dinner you know is delicious as the opening credits roll on the next episode of a show you’re dying to watch. Is that just the word heaven?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahah yes, heaven!

  117. Katherine says...

    I am learning German and one word I think is perfect is ‘vorfreude’. This means anticipation, but specifically for something good. The pleasure of anticipating something good happening. There is an idiom “vorfreude ist die schonste freude’ – sort of, ‘anticipating something good is the best happiness’

    • Nicki says...

      I’m German, and I adore the word “Vorfreude”, I genuinely believe that looking forward to something great can multiply/stretch out something that is already pleasurable – like a really nice holiday you’ve been waiting to take.

      On the other hand, we also have the “Schadenfreude” (roughly translated as “damage-joy”), which means deriving pleasure from someone else’s misfortune. It’s a little bit less mean-spirited than it sounds in translation.

      A few other great German words:
      – Ohrwurm (literally means “ear worm”) for when you just can’t get a specific song out of your head and it seems to be playing in your ear on repeat. My (American) dad LOVES this word.
      – Fremdschaemen (roughly translated as “stranger-shame”), which describes that feeling when you are cringing or deeply ashamed at having to watch someone else doing something very embarrassing.
      – Fernweh (the opposite of homesick, can be translated as “far-sick”), which describes the feeling of yearning to travel.

    • Stacey says...

      Oh, fremdschaemen is the perfect word! It’s the reason why I’ve had to stop watching so many TV shows that everyone else seems to love (I’m looking at you, The Office).

    • Rn says...

      Fremdschaemen sounds a lot like “pena ajena” in Spanish!

    • Nanaka says...

      @Katherine, Nicki: I love all of these, too! :-)

      I’d like to add “Gemütlichkeit” (feeling very cozy, most likely wearing your comfiest clothes, sitting wrapped up in a blanket in front of a crackling fireplace drinking a hot tea or chocolate, while it smells of freshly baked cookies… that sort of thing), and “Sehnsucht” (a longing for something, someone, or even a feeling you don’t have and crave to experience (again)).

      But there is one English expression that I like a lot, which we just don’t have in German: “to blow a raspberry”. Hahahaha, that is just so good, I crack up every time I hear or read that. :-)
      (Why the raspberry?!)

  118. sherrie says...

    The Yiddish word – Beshert – pronounced (be shairt) which loosely means “meant to be” and covers just about everything you feel when things fall into place……

    • Leah says...

      Love this! After losing my mum a few years back I came across the word Kummerspeck in German. It literally means grief bacon, or weight gained through emotional eating.

  119. Juliette says...

    The feeling you get when you look at the Moon and remember that most people who ever lived—since the beginning of humanity—have contemplated the same light you are looking at. And that all the ones who are not born yet will share that with you as well. That feeling of being a people throughout time and space.

    • Lee says...

      Such a good one and so eloquently put.

  120. Ramona says...

    I have always liked the word ‘shalom’ (which I know already exists but it’s a beautiful word/expression) ?

  121. Alex Williams says...

    Love this. But what’s the Norwegian word for “beer on the gray, drizzly day that NYC went above 3 percent again?” That’s what I’m cracking in about 20 seconds….

    • Hillary F. says...

      Covinbraus

    • Kathryn says...

      Happy Debate Day. That’s the term. ?

  122. Allison says...

    When you get a surprise in your grocery order that you didn’t expect, like 5 bunches of bananas when you thought you ordered 5 bananas. The word should have negative and positive connotative pronunciations depending on how the change impacts your meal planning.

  123. Shira says...

    For me it’s not so much the sadness after finishing a great book but the trepidation as I near the end of a really great book, where I slow myself down because then the wonder will end but wait I can’t pick up another book because then that would be cheating on the first one. :) I need a word for this.

    I love this post – thank you.

    • or the fear of starting your next book after having finished an amazing one?!

  124. Katie S. says...

    I German friend once told me there is a word in French that basically describes the feeling you get when you are really high on a cliff and although you don’t actually want to jump you also kind of do, if for no other reason than just to know the feeling. He said it basically translates to ‘into the void’. I found that fascinating!

    • Sijia says...

      L’appel du vide!

    • Katherine says...

      L’appel du vide! The call of the void.

    • Winona says...

      l’appel du vide :) it more closely translates to the “the call of the void”, even better!

    • Louisa says...

      Love this so much!!

    • Katie S. says...

      Ahh yes, that’s it! The call of the void. I absolutely love that!

  125. Kate says...

    The deep satisfaction crossed with joyous surprise when you remember later in the day that you completed that momentous task earlier. Visceral relief mixed with self congratulation…

    • Dana says...

      I love the word “peacherino” it means someone or something that is especially attractive or well liked or enjoyable.

    • Cam says...

      Hi Kate,
      This really resonates with me! For some reason, when I feel this feeling, I always go get a manicure. I’m not sure why, and didn’t really even notice the pattern until now! There is a definite feeling of – I need to mark this with an action – because it is such a wonderful feeling. I wish there was a word for it, too!

  126. Samantha says...

    the joy of a pet jumping up on the couch to snuggle with you. a cat purring in your lap.

  127. Meghan says...

    That magical feeling when the trees’ colours change, leaves are making that crinkling sound in the wind and raining down colourful leaves.

    *current mood from Toronto, Canada*

  128. Vero says...

    The feeling when you’re so grateful to be alive, recognizing the preciousness of life. that you’re on the verge of tears.

  129. christine hardy says...

    While on a fabulous trip through Portugal, my friend and I came up with a word for when you are having so much fun that you are preemptively nostalgic for the moment you are presently in, we said we were feeling “nowstalgic!”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg YES!!!

    • Alexandra says...

      I think I’ve been in a constant state of “nowstalgia” since my son was born. I’m not sure there’s a better way to sum up being a parent – both experiencing the joy of it and preemptively missing it at the exact same time.

  130. hali says...

    • avoiding reading and replying to group chats / text messages.
    • when you can’t stop cringing about something you said.
    • disliking the sound of your voice on video/audio recordings.
    • experiencing a swell of a crush on your significant other.
    • a daily afternoon craving of something sweet. (fika? in swedish maybe? but maybe that’s just with friends?)
    • the disappointing realization that someone you worshipped as a child (parent, older sibling, role model, musical hero etc.) is only human and therefore incredibly fallible.
    • when you express the opposite of road rage to another car via a wave, a smile, letting them in your lane, and they mouth thank you and nod through their windows.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “disliking the sound of your voice on video/audio recordings.” = hahahaha

    • Louisa says...

      My 6-year-old was just saying the other day how fun it is to hear herself on recordings because it makes her sound like a toddler. And I explained that the way she sounds in recordings is the way she sounds to other people and she is absolutely horrified!

    • Hillary F. says...

      “when you express the opposite of road rage to another car via a wave, a smile, letting them in your lane, and they mouth thank you and nod through their windows.”

      I am always so proud of myself when I do this, I give myself a little mental gold star.

  131. Emilie says...

    YES, what a perfect post for logophiles like myself :) learning these words in other languages that are not only the kind of words we need in English, but which are also on point onomatopoeiae are my favourite:

    1. Waldeinsamkeit (German for the feeling of being alone in the woods);
    2. Iktsuarpok (Inuit for the anticipation that leads you outside to see if anyone is coming); and
    3. Mangata (Swedish for the road-like reflection of the moon on water)

    For our dear English language, I love all of your suggestions, Joanna.

    I would add:
    1. The feeling of being with a dear friend for the first time in a long time and yet it could be that you’d never been apart;
    2. When you visit somewhere for the first time but it feels oddly and very fondly familiar; and
    3. the unique emotion (more complex than excitement) of waking up in a new place you have never been before

    • AJ says...

      :) great additions

  132. Ashley says...

    I wish there was a word that describes the feeling of opening up a brand new book – the smell, the pages, so much anticipation for the story to come (even better if it’s a sequel or part of a series you love!).

    I’ll always remember going to the bookstore with my mother to pick up the newest Harry Potter book and savoring those first few pages while sinking into the story. It was like a joyful surrender, a way to turn the world off ever so briefly so I could fall into another.

    • Molly says...

      THIS. I commented this above specifically in the respect of a long-awaited sequel. Truly nothing will compare to reading a new Harry Potter book for the first time though, especially after a wait.

  133. Capucine says...

    The French word ‘betise’ – a little mistake, a little naughtiness. Like when a puppy runs off with a sock and you scoop him up and take it back nuzzling his ears saying ‘you make nothing but betise all day!’. Or when a baby drops food off his tray to watch it fall – ‘stop making betise and try these grapes!’. It is used all the time raising children and I picked it up from my husband. An affectionate way to be exasperated…we don’t have that in English.

  134. Court says...

    I studied abroad in Rome for a summer and I love the use of the word “allora” in Italian. It directly translates to so, then, well. But it’s a little bit more complicated. When I look it up, it says : “allora” buys you a little time and tells the listener you’re thinking things over, especially when used by itself, or to introduce a sentence. Used by itself, it can express impatience: Allora!

    In a situation where you just don’t know what to say, allora! If you are about to start addressing the room, allora! It sounds more formal than OK and it sounds nicer than “oh well.” My husband and I often use it with parenting our two toddlers when we don’t know what to say or how to react in a situation, we just look at each other and say ALLORA!

    • Megan says...

      Court, you have to watch the first episode of Season 2 of Master of None, you’ll love it.

  135. Sequoia says...

    That feeling of looking over at husband knowing that you chose well/will be ok. I find myself doing this lot lately and contentment doesn’t convey the momentary elevation. It’s like “Yes the really important part of life is right!”

    Platonic soul mates.
    A more intimate and endearing replacement for “support system”.

    One of my favorite words is sonder: the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. Isn’t that beautiful!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, sonder. that makes me want to cry!

    • elandra says...

      Sonder is such a good meditation when you’re feeling cynical about humanity. I used to do it often and it brought me back from the brink into a place that much closer to compassion for life on earth.

  136. Lesley says...

    I love the Italian word “magari,” which you can use as an exclamation to mean, “I wish,” or you can use it before you’re about to posit a theoretical maybe. So good and concise, and sometimes I want to say it when I’m speaking English…

    • M says...

      My gosh, THIS! I feel there could be hundreds of words related to pregnancy alone. I need one for:
      – the particular miracle of a baby’s strong kick
      – how tight your belly skin gets towards the end, like a balloon or a drum
      – the puzzlement of how your huge stomach is somehow going to turn into a BABY, and soon.

      It’s wild.

    • Cherie says...

      I am in “zwischen” an in between time of my life from active self employment to retirement. I wonder what life will hold for me and surprise me with in the next phase of my life?!

    • Alice says...

      Oh I guess the closest thing in English would be liminal, although it doesn’t have any specific connotations re: pregnancy. Such a useful word, in both cases! That time of pregnancy is kind of a lovely anticipation (or was for me, mostly), but liminal states can sometimes lead to anxiety. I have found it a useful concept to apply in my life, to be able to pinpoint why I feel anxious during times of transition, or liminality.

    • K says...

      Well actually “zwischen” or “dazwischen” just means between or in between (or amongt/amongst depending on context). I have never heard it being used as a noun nor in a particular way in regards to pregnancy.
      Not to spoil the fun but I think someone made this up.
      Any other Germans here to correct me?

      The time between christmas and new year is called “zwischen den Jahren” – between the years – I like that.

  137. VS says...

    This is so interesting because, for years, I have been telling my husband that new words are needed in order to express certain special experiences!!! I need a word for that joy one feels when coming home from the library with arms full of interesting books that one can hardly wait to get into bed and read to one’s heart’s content! (Bonus: when it is the start of winter holidays, and you have all the time you want to sit and be surrounded by these glorious books!!!)

  138. Denise says...

    I’d love a word for the smell of a summer rain after a long dry spell. Or the lonely sound of a train whistle far in the distance. Or the way sunshine makes a cat’s fur smell like roasted nuts. Or a gentle rain that wakes you up at night while you’re cozy in bed. I’d like there to be lots more words for specific rains.

    • Stacey says...

      Ooh, you’re in luck, there IS a word for the smell of rain after a dry spell – petrichor!

  139. MBT says...

    There should be a word to describe the sweet smell of a child’s head from babyhood until about the age of 10. (From 11 onward, particularly if you have boys, I think the word already exists: “stinky.” Ha!)

  140. Sandra says...

    The joy of finding someone you love the perfect gift, waiting with anticipation to give it to them, watching them open it and knowing you hit the mark! Love that feeling!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! that is such a specific feeling, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

    • CS says...

      Aww! This is such a sweet comment. It says something so nice about the commenter.

    • Meighan says...

      my goodness that is me right now !!! found a great gift for my boyfriend but his birthday isn’t until November. ah! wish it were sooner but the anticipation is too fun

    • Shira says...

      Oh I love this one!

  141. Kirstin says...

    I have been trying to clean out my wardrobe, and so the feeling I noticed doing that still lingers, can I ask – what is this soothing feeling you mention? I think the reason there is not a word for this in English may be because not many people experience it.
    Can you please tell us how to organise our wardrobe to experience this? (Picture your worst nightmare and that’s probably my overstuffed, chaotic den of too much jammed in).
    Funnily enough though, as for the joy after finishing. really good book – I’ve been walking about in that daze for two days after finishing The Dictionary of lost Words. It’s the best feeling isn’t it? I hope this feeling lingers for a long time, though I am wary of ruining it by selecting the wrong book to pick up next.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha — I feel so calm when I’m organizing a drawer or closet. it feels meditative. curious if others feel the same way :)

      now going off to look up the dictionary of lost words, it sounds beautiful. xoxo

    • Kristen says...

      I recently organized my catch all bathroom drawer (while stuck at home because of wildfire smoke) and finally separated my hair bands from my tweezers/fingernail clippers/lip balm/skin care samples. It’s been more than 2 weeks and a still get a tiny thrill whenever I even think about that drawer!

    • elandra says...

      For some, that joy comes by hiring someone else to do that job for you, haha. Once a friend asked me, “doesn’t it make you feel good about yourself to get (horrendous pain-in-the-@ss) jobs done”, and my response was, “it makes me feel good about myself to be able to hire someone to get it done”. And I still feel that way! It’s more about having the overwhelm taken care of then I can carry on in a tidy way from there.

  142. Maryn says...

    I need a word for the true love felt after finding THE perfect throw pillow after a months-long hunt and the urge I feel to take a selfie with it to document its beauty and my joy over it on the daily ? But really.

  143. Hanan says...

    Looking at your partner or children in such a loving way that you want to swallow them whole!

  144. DB says...

    That longing and bittersweet feeling after I finish a book I loved. I wish there was a word for that.

    • Elizabeth R. says...

      I just created a word for that: booklorn.

    • Milou says...

      Yes!!! I was going to write exactly this :)

    • mariah says...

      yes, so true!