A couple of weeks ago I wrote about an intriguing article from psychologist Ronald E. Riggio that shared the words for a handful of common emotions that you've probably had before but never knew had names.
Jouska? That's when you repeatedly replay hypothetical conversations in your head. Chrysalis? The cozy feeling you get when you're warm inside and it's raining outside.
As a bit of a word nerd, I found it fascinating that psychologists have such a finely tuned vocabulary for the intricacies of human experience, but apparently this hidden wealth of words is even richer than Riggio revealed. According to a recent post on New York Magazine's Science of Us blog there's enough such terms to fill a whole book.
It's by Tiffany Watt Smith, a research fellow at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London and it's titled (appropriately enough) The Book of Human Emotions. It contains a whopping 154 words from around the world for subtle emotions that you might not have had the terms to talk about before.
Getting your hands on these words is important, Watt Smith tells Science of Us, because having the language to talk about something increases your sense of control over it. "It's a long-held idea that if you put a name to a feeling, it can help that feeling become less overwhelming," she told the blog. "All sorts of stuff that's swirling around and feeling painful can start to feel a bit more manageable." So what are some examples of these words?
- Malu: This one comes from the Dusun Baguk people of Indonesia. It's "the sudden experience of feeling constricted, inferior and awkward around people of higher status," explains Watt Smith.
- Pronoia: The opposite of paranoia, this term was coined by psychologist sociologist Fred Goldner, who explained it's the "strange, creeping feeling that everyone's out to help you."
- Torschlusspanik: From those masters of the compound word, the Germans, this means literally 'gate-closing panic'. "It's "a word to summarize that fretful sensation of time running out," notes Science of Us.
- Kaukokaipuu: I have no idea how you pronounce this Finnish word, but now I know it means "a feeling of homesickness for a place you've never visited. It can also mean a kind of highly specified version of wanderlust... dreaming from your desk about some far-off place like New Zealand, or the Hawaiian Islands, or Machu Picchu, with an intensity that feels almost like homesickness."
- Ilinx: I should teach my toddler this one. It's "a French word for 'the 'strange excitement's wanton destruction.'"