I stumbled across the coolest BuzzFeed article today, opening up my eyes to a man named John Koenig and his ongoing project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. According to his website, “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.”
So. Some dude out here is making up words—albeit with significant research into etymology and a unique understanding of the human condition—and defining these fictitious words on the internet. Why should you bother reading? While you’re busy worrying about why this even matters, I want you to consider the following: Where did the words we use every day really come from, anyway?
“If you trace back the etymology of every word we speak—and vow and teach and kill and die for—each one began its life as a barbaric yawp, untamed and untranslatable, born in the dirt, starving, hysterical, naked, dragging itself from tongue to tongue for centuries before it could get its foot in the door of the lexicon.”
Are you aware that the word ‘selfie‘ was added to the dictionary last year? As time moves forward and societies progress, humans are required to constantly find new ways to express themselves. Part of that means introducing new terminology into our lives. It’s been going on as long as we’ve existed, you’ve just never noticed. So while you may think this Koenig guy is off his rocker because he’s been giving made up definitions to made up words for the past six years, I see a certain beauty and genius in what he is doing…
exulansis n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it
gnasche n. the intense desire to bite deeply into the forearm of someone you love
lethobenthos n. the habit of forgetting how important someone is to you until you see them again in person
catoptric tristesse n. the sadness that you’ll never really know what other people think of you, whether good, bad or if at all