The other day, I came across the Japanese phrase “koi no yokan” which is used to describe the feeling upon first meeting someone who you will inevitably fall in love with. It literally translates to “the premonition of love.” Isn’t it lovely there are words, sometimes in other languages, that capture a feeling, no matter how rare or obscure, absolutely perfectly? And when you stumble upon them and their meaning, something clicks into place — a puzzle piece wiggled into just the right corner with just the right touch — and you realize, “I know that feeling.”
So I’m curious — how many of you know this feeling of “koi no yokan?” Of the romantic and platonic kind alike — because I’m absolutely certain we encounter friends in the same way we embrace our lovers. Sometimes, when you meet someone who’s meant to be in your life for a long time well, in a far less poetic English variation…when you know, you know.
And since I always love learning new words, in the language I natively speak, and others — I asked you all to share obscure and deeply felt feelings and concepts in languages other than English. Here's what you all shared with me! Hope you enjoy!
- Jeong (Korean): Feeling, love, sentiment, passion, human nature, sympathy, heart. Although it is complicated to introduce a clear definition of jeong, it seems to include all of the above as well as more basic feelings, such as attachment, bond and affection.
- Weltschmerz (German): A feeling of melancholy and world-weariness.
- Glückseligkeit (German): Extreme bliss, happiness
- Fernweh (German): A longing for distance, far off places, usually ones you've yet to visit
- Estremercer (Spanish): When something is so beautiful, it causes you to tremble
- Gezellig (Dutch): Meaning a number of things, including cozy and snug. Its definition goes beyond that, though, encompassing more social concepts such as sociable, convivial and companionable
- Coup de foudre (French): Love at first sight, literally translating to lightning strike
- Mimar (Spanish): To pamper; to spoil (to treat with excessive care, to indulge
- Kilig (Tagalog): refers to the feeling of excitement due to various love circumstances such as making first eye contact with one's crush or watching another person propose to someone
- Eunoia (Greek): well mind; beautiful thinking') is the goodwill a speaker cultivates between themselves and their audience
- Wabi-sabi (Japanese): A world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" in nature. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印, sanbōin), specifically impermanence (無常, mujō), suffering (苦, ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空, kū).
- Ya'aburnee (Arabic): Literally translates to "You bury me" meaning that the speaker hopes to die before someone else does as they realize how difficult it would be to live without that person
- Hiraeth (Welsh): The feeling of homesickness combined with grief and sadness for your homeland or a romanticized past.
- Dal misk (Berber, Kabylian dialect): Meaning sumptuous, literally translating to "that's silk"
- Toska (Russian): A mixture of pining, restlessness, yearning, nostalgia, melancholy, and depression
- Jaysus (Indonesian): A not so funny joke that’s told so badly that you actually laugh
- Tartle (Scottish): The hesitation before introducing someone when you’ve forgotten their name
- L’appel du vide (French): Literally ‘the call of the void’ or the sudden desire to jump when you’re standing high up
- Flâner (French): Aimlessly wandering without any destination, just to enjoy the views
- L’abbioccio (Italian): The groggy, sleepy, happy feeling after a large meal
- Merak (Serbian): The feeling you get from simple pleasures that adds up to a sense of happiness and fulfillment
- Gluggaveður (Icelandic): Weather that looks beautiful but is unpleasant to be in
- Saudade (Portuguese): Much like hiraeth, this is the longing for something beautiful that’s now gone
- L’esprit d’escalier (French): Literally ‘the spirit of the stairs’ this is when you think of the perfect come back or retort after the conversation has happened
- Gökotta (Swedish): Waking up early to hear the first birds sing
- Komorebi (Japanese): Sunlight that filters between the leaves on a tree
- Pochemuchka (Russian): A person who asks too many questions
- Won (Korean): Reluctance to let go of an illusion