Have you found yourself in a conversational rut? With a case of writer's block? The surest cure for any linguistic ailment is a quick vocabulary lesson. There are words for emotions, concepts, and states of being that might previously have left you speechless. And when English can’t cut it, we can adopt a term from a foreign language and hope it catches on. Here are eight words you didn’t know you needed.
Have you ever misheard some song lyrics and then misinterpreted the whole point of the song? If you have, you’ve experienced a "mondegreen." The word itself is a result of a misheard lyrical phrase. In the 1950s, someone misheard the lyrics to “The Bonny Earl of Murray,” changing “laid him on the green” to “Lady Mondegreen.” Remember this one the next time you’re belting out “Hold me closer, Tony Danza” at karaoke night.
We’ve all been faced with uncertainty at one point or another. "Acatalepsy" is the next level of being unsure. It’s the complete (or perceived) impossibility of knowing something. When there’s no way you can fully understand something or prove its reality, you’re experiencing the philosophical state of acatalepsy.
You’ve probably felt like this word, even if you didn’t know it. It’s the kind of thing you see en masse during finals week at college— an unkempt, neglected appearance. "Frowzy" originated in the 17th century (though not likely from a horde of exhausted undergrad students) to describe something scruffy or even dingy.
This slang term, adopted from German, concerns having the house to yourself in your parents’ or roommates’ absence. Basically, if you’re looking to have a wild party, you’re waiting for sturmfrei. It goes beyond just having the house to yourself — it’s the feeling of freedom that only comes from being home alone and without supervision.
Your ikigai is your reason for living. It’s what makes you get up in the morning, your drive, your passion. The word, adopted from Japanese, encompasses the goal of a person’s life — to find something that makes you happy.
Maybe you’ve heard of hygge, the Danish concept of ultimate coziness that has become a lifestyle trend, but there are even more words to expand upon this comforting theory. A hyggekrog is something we all need in our lives. It’s a place to feel safe, cozy, and comfortable. It can be your entire home or just a part of that space, like your bedroom or a fort. It’s where you feel truly relaxed.
Let’s be real — most of us have been a tidsoptimist. This is a Swedish word that means “time optimist.” It refers to someone who always thinks they have more time than they do. It's that one friend who is usually late to the party (or the meeting, or work, or dinner, and so on).
Meraki is a Greek concept that refers to the part of yourself you infuse into your work. Think of Grandma’s sweaters made with love in the stitches. Meraki can be love, creativity, or whatever part of you that makes the thing you do special. It’s when you can make the same thing as another person and come up with unique results just because you’re two different people.