Seven Obscure Sorrows

Sometimes I can’t help myself. Like when I’m cruising around the farmer’s market and there’s a great band playing — I just gotta drum against the sides of my thighs. I can’t help myself. Like when a Beatles song comes on the radio — I just gotta make each of my hands into a puppet and move my thumb so John and Paul sing the harmonies — I can’t help myself. Like when I come across something really cool — I just gotta share it with people. Like The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Can’t help myself.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is about words, of course. New words. Their website explains:

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.

From The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

From The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

This is nothing short of genius. As so many of us take on the task of healing our wounds and those of our ancestors, as we work to stop cycles of abuse and dysfunction (by the way, how awesome are we for doing this!) and as we move through this evolutionary process, we can’t help but stir up the muck at the bottom of the collective pond. Feelings, emotions, situations that hadn’t existed before churn and coagulate into chaos, churn again. This is the disorder, confusion, doubt, sadness, and anger we live every day. Until the dark gunk in the pond settles, our inner world is destined to be even more complex than it had been previously — perhaps more complex than any other time in human history.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows brilliantly addresses the sentiment, passion, distress, regret, and uniqueness of our era. It offers hope for feelings of our outer reaches, the things we sense but can’t quite nail down, the things we sense aren’t quite right — our shared sorrows.


There are seven colors in the rainbow, seven days in the week, and I have seven favorite obscure sorrows (as of today). Take a look at the videos of each below (they’re only a few minutes long and are NOT in alpha order — hahaha), and you might soon be looking at more than these seven. All are written, edited, coined, narrated, and some animated by John Koenig. The films are professionally done — beautiful images, first-rate cinematography, compelling philosophy, confident and soothing voice. Oh, and if you’re interested, be sure to read the description and click on “see more” for the etymology of the word (yes, the author didn’t pick the words out of a hat) and for additional commentaries and sometimes a transcript as well. Until next time, diction on…

#1 – Opia: The Ambiguous Intensity of Eye Contact

#2 – Onism: The Awareness of How Little of the World You’ll Experience

#3 – Koinophobia: The Fear that You’ve Lived an Ordinary Life

#4 – Sonder: The Realization That Everyone Has a Story

#5 – Zenosyne: The Sense That Time Keeps Going

#6 – Anemoia: Nostalgia For A Time You’ve Never Known

#7 – Klexos: The Art of Dwelling on the Past


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