40 Words for Emotions You Feel But Can’t Explain

Ever get the feeling you experience emotions that aren't possible to explain?


Have you ever thought that you feel emotions that you don’t have the words to explain?

Exulansis: when there’s isn’t an actual word for what you’re attempting to explain.

We feel more than we have the language to articulate and reveal, which remains in itself profoundly frustrating.

Individuals resolve feelings by being able to determine them and utilize them as signals.


A lot of the time, it leaves us in the dark.

Get in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, the brainchild of writer John Koenig, who is here to provide you words for the sensations you may not have even understood you were having.

Here are 40 emotions you couldn’t explain, until now:


n. the awareness of how little of the world you’ll experience.

Picture yourself standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with unusual place names like other people’s passwords, each representing another thing you’ll never get to see before you die.

And all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

Mal de Coucou

n. a phenomenon where you have an active social life but really few close good friends.

People who you can trust.

These are people who you can be yourself with, who can assist eliminate the weird psychological toxins and emotions that tend to collect with time.

It’s a form of severe social poor nutrition where even if you feast on a whole buffet of chitchat, you’ll still feel pangs of cravings.


n. the realization that every random passerby is living a life as vibrant and complicated as your very own.

They inhabit by their own aspirations, pals, routines, worries and acquired insaneness.

An epic story that continues undetectably around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground.

With elaborate passages to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you may appear only once.

As an extra drinking coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic handing down the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Hanker Sore

adj. seeing a person you find so attractive, it kinda pisses you off.


n. the amniotic harmony of being indoors during a thunderstorm.

Paying attention to waves of rain pattering against the roofing like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand correctly.


n. weariness with the usual problems that you’ve constantly had.

The same uninteresting defects, emotions, and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for many years.

It leaves them soaked and unappetizing and inert, with nothing fascinating left to think of.

Nothing delegated do but spit them out and roam off to the yard.

All set to collect some fresher discomfort you might have buried long ago.


n. the awareness of the smallness of your point of view, by which you couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all.

About the world or the previous or the intricacies of culture, due to the fact that although your life is an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and might wind up being the control for a much wilder experiment happening in the next room.


n. a type of melancholic hypnotic trance where you end up being soaked-up entirely in brilliant sensory information.

Raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee.

Briefly soaking in the experience of being alive, an act that is done purely for its own sake.

Nodus Tollens

n. the awareness that the plot of your life does not make sense to you anymore.

That, although you thought you were following the arc of the story, you keep finding yourself immersed in passages you do not comprehend.

They do not even appear to belong in the same genre.

Which needs you to return and reread the chapters you had initially skimmed to obtain to the good parts, only to discover that along you were expected to choose your own experience.


n. the desire to care less about things.

To loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing at you every couple of steps scared that somebody will capture it from you before you reach completion zone.

Rather, to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only fast fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of relied-on good friends, always in play.


n. the frustration of photographing something fantastic when countless similar pictures already exist.

The same sundown.

The exact same waterfall.

The same curve of a hip.

The exact same closeup of an eye.

Capturing the same emotions.

It can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and inexpensive, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.


n. the minute you understand that you’re presently delighted.

Knowingly attempting to relish the emotions you feel.

It prompts your intellect to recognize it, pick it apart and put it in context, where it will gradually liquify till it’s a bit more than an aftertaste.


n. the strange wistfulness of used bookshops, which are in some way instilled with the passage of time.

They are filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to check out.

Each which is itself secured its own age, bound and dated and papered over like an old space the author deserted years ago.

A concealed annex cluttered with ideas left just as they were on the day they were caught.


n. the emotions you feel when returning home after an immersive journey only to discover it fading rapidly from your awareness.

To the extent you have to keep advising yourself that it took place at all, even though it felt so bright, a few days back.

Makings you want you could smoothly cross-dissolve back into everyday life, or just hold the shutter open indefinitely and let one scene become superimposed on the next.

So all your days would run together, and you ‘d never have to call cut.


n. a recurring idea that just appears to strike you late in the evening.

A past due task, a nagging guilt, a looming and shapeless future.

One that circles high overhead during the day, that pecks at the back of your mind while you try to sleep, that you can successfully disregard for weeks, only to feel its presence hovering outside the window, waiting for you to finish your coffee, passing the time by quietly building a nest.

Dead Reckoning

n. to find yourself bothered by somebody’s death more than you would have expected.

Like you presumed they would continuously belong to the landscape.

Like a lighthouse you could go by for many years until the night it all of a sudden goes dark, leaving you with one less landmark to navigate by.

Still able to discover your bearings, but feeling all that a lot more adrift.


n. the sensation that no matter what you do is continuously somehow wrong.

Any attempt to make your method conveniently through the world will wind up crossing some undetectable taboo.

It’s like there’s some obvious way forward that everybody else can see but you, each of them leaning back in their chair and calling out helpfully, colder, colder, chillier.


n. a banquet commemorated on the day of your 26th birthday, which marks the point at which your youth finally ends as a valid reason.

When you must start gathering your crops, even if they’ve hardly taken root.

Its the point at which the days will begin to feel shorter as they pass, till even the pollen in the air advises you of the coming snow.


n. disappointment with how long it requires to be familiar with someone.

Investing the very first few weeks talking, with each subsequent conversation like entering a various waiting room, each a little closer to the center of your home.

Wishing instead that you might begin there and work your escape, exchanging your deepest secrets initially, before relieving into casualness, till you’ve built up enough secret over the years to ask them where they’re from, and exactly what they provide for a living.

Rigor Samsa

n. a sort of mental exoskeleton that can protect you from discomfort and include your anxieties, but continually ends up splitting under pressure or burrowed by time.

It will keep growing back once again and once again, until you develop a more advanced psychological structure, held up by a durable and flexible spinal column, built less like a fortress than a cluster of treehouses.


n. the sort of unnoticed quality that surrounds you every day, unremarkably.

The surprise skills of pals and colleagues, the fleeting solos of subway buskers, the slapdash eloquence of confidential users, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists.

It would be renowned as work of arts if just they ‘d been evaluated by the cartel of popular taste, who presume that sparkle is an uncommon and valuable quality, accidentally neglecting buried gems that may not be perfect but are still in some way best.


n. an image that in some way becomes trapped deep in your brain.

Maybe left there by a dream, or smuggled inside a book, or planted throughout a casual conversation, leaving behind new emotions.

It then grows into a wild and impractical vision that keeps scrambling backward and forward in your head like a canine stuck in a car that’s about to get back, just itching for a possibility to leap headlong into reality.


n. a moment that seemed harmless at the time, however, wound up marking a diversion into an odd brand-new age of your life.

It’s set in a movement not by a series of jolting surprises however by tiny invisible differences in between one regular day and the next, up until entire years of your memory can be compressed into a handful of indelible images.

It avoids you from rewinding the past, however, permits you to move forward without unlimited buffering.


n. a moment of awareness that someone you’ve understood for many years still has a personal and mysterious inner life, and someplace in the corridors of their character is a door locked from the within, a staircase leading to a wing of the house that you’ve never fully explored.

An unfinished attic that will remain maddeningly unknowable to you, because eventually, neither of you has a map, or a master key, or any way of knowing exactly where you stand.


n. a discussion in which everyone is talking but nobody is listening, just overlaying detached words like a video game of Scrabble, with each player borrowing bits of other anecdotes as a method to increase their own score, till we all lack things to say.

Catoptric Tristesse

n. the sadness that you’ll never actually understand what other individuals consider you, whether excellent, bad or if at all.

Although we review each other with the sharpness of a mirror, the actual photo of how we’re coming off somehow reaches us softened and distorted, as if each mirror was preoccupied with twisting around, frantically aiming to look itself in the eye.


n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never ever understood.

Think of stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you might rest on the side of the road and view the residents passing by.

Who lived and died before any of us showed up here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the exact same blood in their veins– and reside in a different world.


n. the frustration of understanding how quickly you fit into a stereotype, even if you never planned to, also if it’s unjust, even if everybody else feels the very same way.

Each of us trick-or-treating for loan and respect and attention, using a safe and predictable costume since we’re tired of addressing the question, “What are you expected to be?”


n. the subtle however consistent sensation of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings as a seal on a beach.

Lumbering, awkward, easily distracted, huddled in the company of other misfits, unable to recognize the ambient roar of your designated habitat, in which you ‘d be fluidly, brilliantly, effortlessly in your home.


n. a conversational hint that you have something personal to state on the subject, however, do not go anymore.

An emphatic nod, a half-told anecdote, an enigmatic ‘I understand the emotions.’

You will place into conversations like those little flags that warn diggers of something buried underground: possibly a cable television that secretly powers your home, maybe a fiberoptic connect to some foreign nation.


n. the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where you can finally get the responses to how things turn out in the actual world.

Who your child sister would end up being, what your pals would wind up doing, where your choices would lead you, exactly when you ‘d lose individuals you considered given.

It is valuable intel that you naturally wish to show anybody who had not currently made the journey, as if there was some part of you who had volunteered to remain behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, yet eagerly awaiting news from the front.


n. a fictional interview with an old image of yourself, an enigmatic figure who still resides in the grainy and color-warped house you grew up in, who might well invest a lot of their day wondering where you are and exactly what you’re doing now, like an old grandma whose kids live far away and do not call much anymore.

Fata Organa

n. a flash of real emotions glimpsed in somebody sitting across the space, idly locked in the middle of some group conversation, their eyes glinting with vulnerability or quiet anticipation or cosmic boredom.

It’s as if you could see backstage through a space in the drapes, enjoying stagehands holding their ropes at the all set, actors in costume mouthing their lines, fragments of unusual sets awaiting some other production.


n. the desire that memory might flow backward.

We take it for given that life progresses.

But you move as a rower moves, dealing with backward: you can see where you’ve been, however not where you’re going.

And your boat is steered by a more youthful variation of you.

It’s tough not to question what life would be like dealing with the other method…


n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s dynamic with individuals, however, is now abandoned and peaceful.

A school corridor at night, an unlit workplace on the weekend, uninhabited fairgrounds.

A psychological afterimage that makes it appear not empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the unfavorable, who are so conspicuously missing they glow like neon signs.

The Tilt Shift

n. a phenomenon in which your lived experience appears unusually inconsequential once you put it down on paper, which turns an epic tragicomedy into a sequence of figures on a model train set, put together in their tiny class and work environments, wandering along their own mindful and well-trodden courses.

Peaceable, generic and out of focus.


n. a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

A crisp analysis, a cathartic discussion, a negative return.

It works as a type of mental batting cage of emotions where you can connect more deeply with people than in the small ball of everyday life, which is a frustratingly cautious video game of change-up pitches, sacrifice bunts, and intentional walks.

Ecstatic Shock

n. the rise of energy upon catching a look from somebody you like.

An excitement that starts in your stomach arcs up through your lungs and flashes into a spontaneous smile.

It scrambles your ungrounded circuits and lures you to go after that feeling with a kite and a secret.


n. the emotions related to a relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head.

You thought it had faded long back but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like a deserted campground whose smoldering coal still have the power to begin a forest fire.


n. the tiniest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers.

A flirtatious glance, a polite nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence.

Minutes that are fleeting and random but still contain nutrients of powerful emotions that can relieve the signs of sensation alone.



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