12 Emotional Words We Should Have In English

So Many Feelings

There are a lot of beautiful words that can perfectly sum up our emotions (hangry comes to mind). But, there are plenty of other feelings that are difficult to describe in just one word (or sentence).

Ever had a feeling you couldn’t quite put into words? Take a look at these perfect words for complex emotions from around the world, and maybe you’ll find a few you’ll be able to use.


Rough Translation: “Anticipation”

This is the word for that intense feeling of joy and excitement just before something fun is about to start. It’s what you feel when you’re setting up for a party and can’t help but dance as you do it. It’s what you feel when you’re packing to go on a trip you’ve always dreamed of. It’s more than just the anticipation of something fun, it’s the actual enjoyment you get out of that anticipation. It’s voorpret!


Rough Translation: “co-embarrassment” or “secondhand embarrassment”Myö translates as “we,” while myötä roughly translates as “with.” Häpeä translates as “shame.” So really, this is more a case of seeing someone else do something embarrassing and feeling their shame with them.

Think of it this way: You see your friend trying to impress the person they like. The other person mentions that they admire Marie Curie. Your friend chimes in, “Oh I love her. I’ve hear all her songs.” You know your friend’s made a mistake, and so does the other person, but your friend might not realize right away. You feel deeply embarrassed for your friend knowing how embarrassed they’re about to be. That feeling you have for your friend is myötähäpeä.

La douleur exquise

Rough Translation: “The exquisite pain”

This is the pain of wanting something you can’t have. It tends to specifically apply to people: The heartache of knowing someone will never return your feelings. Basically, it’s the feeling that comes with every unrequited love.


Rough Translation: “rediscovery” or “reunion”

It’s that feeling you get when you reunite with someone after a long separation. It’s the happiness people in long-distance relationships feel when they finally get to visit each other. It doesn’t even have to be a romantic reunion. When you meet up with your best friend who moved across the country for work, that’s when you feel retrouvailles.

Bonus: There’s a word for this in Norwegian, too! It’s Gjensynsglede.


Rough Translation: “Last minute panic”Tor means “gate,” schluss means “closing” or “ending,” and panik means, well, “panic.” So in a way, Torschlusspanik could literally translate to “gate closing panic.”

At a certain point in your life you start to see an imaginary door closing on all your opportunities, what could have been. You start to panic, hoping you can still make it through the door if you hustle. That feeling (that moment when you realize you’re losing opportunities with age) is Torschlusspanik.


Inuit (ᐃᒃᑦᓱᐊᕐᐳᒃ)
Rough Translation: “Going outside often to check if someone is coming”

This is a word for when you’re waiting for someone and keep checking if they’re arriving. It’s not quite impatience, and it’s not quite anticipation. Technically, it’s the feeling that compels you to keep going outside, then back inside, then back outside to check again if someone’s on their way. In modern terms, it can probably equate nicely to the feeling that makes you keep checking your phone for a message from your friend or SO that they’re almost there.

Koi no Yokan

Japanese (恋の予感)
Rough Translation: “Premonition of love”

恋 (koi) is romantic love, and 予感 (yokan) roughly translates to premonition or hunch. It’s when you meet someone and just have a strong feeling that the two of you are going to fall in love. It’s not the same as love at first sight. You aren’t in love right away, but a part of you just knows that someday down the line it’s going to happen.


Rough Translation: “In love”

Beyond just being in love, this word captures the euphoric feeling of when you’re just starting to fall in love. You’ve probably felt this at the very beginning of a relationship (or maybe within the first few dates).


Russian (разлюбить)
Rough Translation: “Fall out of love”

This sits on the other end of the spectrum from forelsket. It’s the sentimental feeling you have for someone you once loved, but no longer do. Think of coming across a picture of your ex in your phone or on Facebook (one you parted with on good terms). You’re hit with a wave of nostalgia thinking about who you were back then. You remember falling for them. Maybe you feel a twinge of affection, but by now it’s totally platonic. You think of that person and wonder what they’re up to. That’s razljubit.


Russian (тоска)
Rough Translation: “Yearning; Emotional pain”

This term is almost impossible to describe in English. It’s both a longing for something never lost, and a pain or melancholy experienced because you have nothing to long for. We couldn’t possibly capture all of the nuances of toska, so we won’t try, but Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov probably described it best:

“At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”


Rough Translation: “Romantic excitement”

This is that feeling of butterflies and happiness you get from being around love (or the idea of love). It’s thrilling and intoxicating, and it doesn’t even need to be based on something happening to you. You can feel kilig from spotting your crush looking at you or from watching your favorite TV couple have a serious moment.


Rough Translation: “Wanting the other person to make the first move”

Yahgan is the language of the indigenous people of Tierra Del Fuego. Mamihlapinatapai holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Succinct Word.” It’s usually described as “a wordless, meaningful look between two people who want the other to initiate something they both desire, but neither wants to start.” It’s definitely something we’ve all experienced on one level or another. It’s that thing that happens when someone catches your eye and you both want the other to be the first to say “hello.” It’s also that moment before a first kiss when neither person is sure whether they should go for it or not.

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