n. a flash of real emotion glimpsed in someone sitting across the room, idly locked in the middle of some group conversation, their eyes glinting with vulnerability, or quiet anticipation, or cosmic boredom—as if you could see backstage through a gap in the curtains, watching stagehands holding their ropes at the ready, actors in costume mouthing their lines, fragments of bizarre sets waiting for some other production.
Tarantism: A disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to dance. Unusual words rendered in bold, beautiful graphics.
Gheegle: (Filipino) The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute.
Cualacino: (Italian) The mark left on a table by a cold glass. L’esprit de escalier: (French) The feeling you get after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said. Stam: (Hebrew) An agreement out of amusement and frustration that something doesn’t have a satisfactory answer among those talking. Forelsket: (Norwegian)The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love. Pena ajena: (Mexican Spanish) The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation.
Cualacino: (Italian) The mark left on a table by a cold glass.
L’esprit de escalier: (French) The feeling you get after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said.
Stam: (Hebrew) An agreement out of amusement and frustration that something doesn’t have a satisfactory answer among those talking.
Forelsket: (Norwegian)The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.
Pena ajena: (Mexican Spanish) The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation.
Ailurophile A cat-lover.
Assemblage A gathering.
Beleaguer To exhaust with attacks.
Brood To think alone.
Bucolic In a lovely rural setting.
Bungalow A small, cozy cottage.
Chatoyant Like a cat’s eye.
Conflate To blend together.
Cynosure A focal point of admiration.
Dalliance A brief love affair.
Demesne Dominion, territory.
Demure Shy and reserved.
Denouement The resolution of a mystery.
Desultory Slow, sluggish.
Dulcet Sweet, sugary.
Ebullience Bubbling enthusiasm.
Efflorescence Flowering, blooming.
Elision Dropping a sound or syllable in a word.
Elixir A good potion.
Eloquence Beauty and persuasion in speech.
Embrocation Rubbing on a lotion.
Emollient A softener
Epiphany A sudden revelation.
Erstwhile At one time, for a time.
Ethereal Gaseous, invisible but detectable.
Evanescent Vanishing quickly, lasting a very short time.
Forbearance Withholding response to provocation.
Furtive Shifty, sneaky.
Gambol To skip or leap about joyfully.
Gossamer The finest piece of thread, a spider’s silk
Halcyon Happy, sunny, care-free.
Harbinger Messenger with news of the future.
Imbrication Overlapping and forming a regular pattern.
Imbroglio An altercation or complicated situation.
Imbue To infuse, instill.
Incipient Beginning, in an early stage.
Ineffable Unutterable, inexpressible.
Ingénue A naïve young woman.
Inglenook A cozy nook by the hearth.
Insouciance Blithe nonchalance.
Inure To become jaded.
Labyrinthine Twisting and turning.
Lagniappe A special kind of gift.
Lagoon A small gulf or inlet.
Languor Listlessness, inactivity.
Lassitude Weariness, listlessness.
Leisure Free time.
Lilt To move musically or lively.
Lissome Slender and graceful.
Lithe Slender and flexible.
Love Deep affection.
Mellifluous Sweet sounding.
Moiety One of two equal parts.
Mondegreen A slip of the ear.
Nemesis An unconquerable archenemy.
Offing The sea between the horizon and the offshore.
Onomatopoeia A word that sounds like its meaning.
Opulent Lush, luxuriant.
Palimpsest A manuscript written over earlier ones.
Panacea A solution for all problems
Panoply A complete set.
Pastiche An art work combining materials from various sources.
Penumbra A half-shadow.
Petrichor The smell of earth after rain.
Plethora A large quantity.
Propinquity An inclination.
Pyrrhic Successful with heavy losses.
Quintessential Mose essential.
Ratatouille A spicy French stew.
Ravel To knit or unknit.
Riparian By the bank of a stream.
Ripple A very small wave.
Scintilla A spark or very small thing.
Seraglio Rich, luxurious oriental palace or harem.
Serendipity Finding something nice while looking for something else.
Summery Light, delicate or warm and sunny.
Sumptuous Lush, luxurious.
Surreptitious Secretive, sneaky.
Susquehanna A river in Pennsylvania.
Sussurous Whispering, hissing.
Talisman A good luck charm.
Umbrella Protection from sun or rain.
Untoward Unseemly, inappropriate.
Vestigial In trace amounts.
Wherewithal The means.
Woebegone Sorrowful, downcast.
n. a mood totally out of sync with everyone else around you, from Friday night pensiveness to heart-to-heart snark, which is a symptom of emotional jet lag—caused by an inflamed suspicion of togetherness in an age of faceless anonymity—a condition whose only known cure is to perform the zombie dance from Thriller while openly weeping, which would effectively crash and reboot the collective vibe.
n. the moment of deciding whether to give a departing acquaintance a handshake or a hug, calculated by measuring your relative orbital trajectory, divided by the time it takes your signals to bounce back and multiplied by the proximity of close friends who just gave them a hug, the extreme gravity of which may well slingshot you into a heartfelt zombie lurch.
this is funny, but reminds me of how I miss some people terribly right now…
n. the habit of forgetting how important someone is to you until you see them again in person, making you wish your day would begin with a “previously on” recap of your life’s various plot arcs, and end with “to be continued…” after those will-they-won’t-they cliffhanger episodes that air just before the show goes back into months of repeats.
I love languages, words. Some, like this one, sum up an entire experience or emotion that we can’t put our finger on when we experience it. I don’t know how you would use this word in a sentence, but it’s kind of beautiful.