Words

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Toska (Russian): A state of mind with many different shades. Russian novelist, Vladmir Nabokov describes it this way, “At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, indegineous language of Tierra del Fuego): The look shared between two people, who both desire to initiate something but are reluctant to start. For example, let’s imagine there are two strangers sitting on a park bench and both wish to start a conversation with the other, but neither is courageous enough to do so. The shared look between the two strangers is called mamihlapinatapei.

Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love.

L’esprit de l’escalier (French): Literally translated, l’esprit de l’escalier means “the spirit of the stairs.” It refers to that moment when you finally think of a comeback or finally think of the perfect thing you could have said in a certain situation but it is already too late.

Wabi-sabi (Japanese): The Japanese word for “a flawed part of an elegant whole.” It refers to the idea of finding perfection or beauty within life’s imperfections and recognizing that they are a part of something larger.

Ya’aburnee (Arabic): This word literally translates to mean “you bury me.” It is the declaration of one’s wishes that they will die before another person because it would be impossible to live without them.

Saudade (Portuguese): An intense, constant longing for something that does not and probably cannot exist. A vague and constant desire for a lost love, or for an imaginary, impossible, never-to-be-experienced love.

Shemomedjamo (Georgian): You’re really full, but your meal is just so good that you can’t stop eating. A word that translates to mean “I accidentally ate the whole thing.”

Hygge (Danish): The pleasant, genial, and intimate feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with close friends.

Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist.

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