Semaphorism

A conversational hint that you have something personal to say on the subject but don’t go any further. An emphatic nod, a half-told anecdote, an enigmatic ‘I know the feeling’, which you place into conversations like those little flags that warn diggers of something buried underground. Coined in 2012 by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a…

Querencia

A place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self. It is a metaphysical concept in the Spanish language. The term comes from the Spanish verb “querer” which means “to desire“. In bullfighting, a bull may stake out his querencia, a certain part…

kairosclerosis

The moment you realize that you’re currently happy—consciously trying to savor the feeling—which prompts your intellect to identify it, pick it apart and put it in context, where it will slowly dissolve until it’s little more than an aftertaste. Coined in 2012 by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a project, to create…

Kuebiko

A state of exhaustion inspired by an act of senseless violence, which forces you to revise your image of what can happen in this world—mending the fences of your expectations, weeding out invasive truths, cultivating the perennial good that’s buried under the surface—before propping yourself up in the middle of it like an old scarecrow,…

Moriturism

The insomnia-borne jolt of awareness that you will die, that these passing years aren’t just scenes from a dress rehearsal, rounds of an ongoing game or chapters in a story you’ll be telling later, but are footprints being lapped by the steadily gathering tide of an unfathomable abyss, which still wouldn’t wash out the aftertaste…

Lilo

A friendship that can lie dormant for years only to pick right back up instantly, as if no time had passed since you last saw each other. Coined in 2012 by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a project, to create a compendium of invented words for every emotion we might all experience…

Ambedo

A kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—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. Coined in 2012 by John Koenig…

Nighthawk

A recurring thought that only seems to strike you late at night—an overdue task, a nagging guilt, a looming and shapeless future—that circles high overhead during the day, that pecks at the back of your mind while you try to sleep, that you can successfully ignore for weeks, only to feel its presence hovering outside…

Klexos

Your life is written in indelible ink. There’s no going back to erase the past, tweak your mistakes, or fill in missed opportunities. When the moment’s over, your fate is sealed. But if look closer, you notice the ink never really dries on any of our experiences. They can change their meaning the longer you…

Anemoia

Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the…

Astrophe

It’s hard not to look at the ground as you walk. To set your sights low, and keep the world spinning, and try to stay grounded wherever you are. But every so often you remember to look up, and imagine the possibilities. Dreaming of what’s out there. Before long, you find yourself grounded once again….

Fitzcarraldo

An image that somehow becomes lodged deep in your brain. Maybe washed there by a dream, or smuggled inside a book, or planted during a casual conversation. It then grows into a wild and impractical vision that keeps scrambling back and forth in your head like a dog stuck in a car that’s about to…

Mahpiohanzia

The disappointment of being unable to fly. Being unable to stretch out your arms and vault into the air, having finally shrugged off the ballast of your own weight and ignited the fuel tank of unfulfilled desires you’ve been storing up since before you were born. Coined in 2012 by John Koenig in The Dictionary…

Waldosia

A condition characterized by scanning faces in a crowd looking for a specific person who would have no reason to be there. It’s your brain’s way of checking to see whether they’re still in your life, subconsciously patting its emotional pockets before it leaves for the day. Coined in 2012 by John Koenig in The…