We all know how many twists and turns the English language has. New words crop up all the time. But there are lots of obscure words that existed before the digital age that you probably don’t even know about. There are words for emotions, concepts and states of being that you might have thought couldn’t be described with language. 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 in your life.
Have you ever misheard some song lyrics and then misinterpreted the whole point of the song? If you have, you’ve experienced mondegreen. The word itself is a result of a misheard 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 like 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 acatalepsy.
You’ve probably felt this word even if you didn’t know it. It’s the kind of thing you see en masse during university finals — an unkempt, neglected appearance. The word originated in the 17th century (though not likely from a horde of exhausted college students).
This is a slang term adopted from German for when you have 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, too — it’s the feeling of freedom that only comes from being home alone.
Your ikigai is your reason for living. It’s what makes you get up in the morning, your drive, your passion. It’s a word adopted from Japanese that 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 did you know that there are more words expanding on the 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, and so on).
Meraki is a Greek concept that means 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.