8 Strange + Lovely Words from Around the World
Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World is a book full of words that surprise, delight, and enamor. Compiled by Yee-Lum Mak (who cites the Portuguese word saudade as her first encounter with other-worldly terms), the words are paired with illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley that convey similar feelings of wonder and nostalgia.
There are terms for the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees; what a person pretends to believe to satisfy society’s demands; the freedom of not being watched.
These words are strange not in the sense that they are alien or bizarre, but strange in the sense that they are curious and wonderful. They reflect our universal humanness, and the attempt to encapsulate certain feelings in a single word to convey our shared experiences.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Resfeber (noun, c, Swedish)
the restless race of the traveler’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a “travel fever” that can manifest as an illness
Hiraeth (noun, m, Welsh)
a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past
Nemophilist (noun, English)
a haunter of the woods; one who loves the forest and its beauty and solitude
Mbuki-mvuki (verb phrase, Bantu)
to shed one’s clothing spontaneously and dance naked in celebration
Nefelibata (noun, m+f, Spanish and Portuguese)
lit. “cloud-walker”; one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination or dreams, or one who does not obey the conventions of society, literature, or art
Tsundoku (noun, Japanese)
buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands
Nunchi (noun, Korean)
the subtle art of evaluating others’ moods from their unspoken communications and knowing what not to say in a certain social situation
Inglenook (noun, English)
a close, intimate corner by a fireplace where people gather for warmth; from ingle, a hearth (Scots)
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Do you have a favorite unique word of your own? Share it in the comments!
For more of these lovely words paired with equally dreamy illustrations, be sure to check out Other-Wordly today.
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