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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Posted: January 20, 2022
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows could also be called John Koenig's Dictionary of Words He Made Up Himself to Describe Very Specific Feelings. But that title doesn't sound as nice, and probably wouldn't make most people give Koenig's book a second look. And The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows definitely deserves a second look.

Maybe even a thorough reading. Maybe even incorporation into the language of a people currently so weighed down and overwrought with emotions, they fear they'll never find release. Maybe having words to describe the intricacies and complexities of their feelings will help. Maybe there's some solace in a name.

In The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Koenig sets out "to fill the gaps in our language of emotion." He backs his terms and definitions with "whimsical etymologies" pieced together from languages worldwide, collages, and lyrical essays discussing the human condition. Examples of words you'll find in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows include:

  • Astrophe. The longing to explore beyond the planet Earth.
  • Sonder. The realization and wonder that every person you pass is the main character in their own story, each living a life as vivid and complex as your own.
  • Lachesism. The primal hunger for a disaster that will shake up your life.
  • Anemoia. Nostalgia for a time you've never actually experienced.
  • Zenosyne. The sense that time keeps getting faster.

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