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Thread: Describing a complex concept with a single word

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    Moderator Emperor's Avatar
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    Default Describing a complex concept with a single word

    Language is a wonderful thing. There are thousands of languages in the world. The one we speak on PW has over a hundred thousand words. Yet sometimes I find myself wanting to express something that can't be expressed very concisely, with a word or two. Occasionally I come across articles that list words from other languages to describe very specific feelings.

    The most famous example is the German word schadenfreude, meaning the feeling of joy directed at the suffering of others. There are a wealth of other fascinating examples scattered around the internet. Ten more are described here. One of them is the Indonesian word malu, meaning "the sudden experience of feeling constricted, inferior and awkward around people of higher status".

    Music is a great interest of mine, so I am frequently asked "What do you think of artist X?" For a lot of artists, the general gist of the answer is the same. Unfortunately, that answer is very long for a casual conversation and goes something like this: "I enjoy artist X's music, but not to the extent that I'd go out of my way to listen to them", or "They are enjoyable as background music or something to listen to with friends, but not good enough to dedicate my personal time to", or "If they were at a festival I was attending, I'd probably check them out, but I wouldn't invest the time and money to go to one of their shows". I rarely give those kind of answers. I will say something dismissive like "They're not bad" or "I don't mind them", which is true, but it will most likely make the other party think I dislike the artist but am too polite to say so. This can also apply to films and TV shows. I'm sure everyone has a bunch of films/shows they wouldn't watch on their own, but wouldn't object to watching with a group of friends. There should be a word for that. It would make my life a little bit more efficient. Or maybe I should just be more forthcoming in conversation

    It'd be nice if there was a word to describe the random bizarre thoughts one has in the shower. I think "shower thoughts" is an established phrase, and sufficient, but it would be even nicer if there was a special word dedicated to that sensation.

    Do you know any such words offhand? English ones are especially welcome! Is there a feeling you wish you could concisely express in a snappy word or phrase?

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    Electro-pop music Leper Messiah's Avatar

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    Default Re: Describing a complex concept with a single word

    Amazing.
    Awesome.
    Wonderful.

    Those are three off the top off my head.

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    but secretly C to the C Engel's Avatar

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    Default Re: Describing a complex concept with a single word

    The German language is amazing for this.

    Fremdscham
    Treppenwitz
    Mutterseelenallein
    Sehnsucht
    Angst
    Gretchenfrage
    Zeitgeist
    Realpolitik

    Other words:

    Thoughtcrime
    Kitsch
    Kvetsh
    Shlimazel
    Kipple


    Flowers gathered in the morning,
    Afternoon they blossom on,
    Still are withered by the evening:
    You can be me when I'm gone.

    @Foos

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    Default Re: Describing a complex concept with a single word

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor View Post
    It'd be nice if there was a word to describe the random bizarre thoughts one has in the shower. I think "shower thoughts" is an established phrase, and sufficient, but it would be even nicer if there was a special word dedicated to that sensation.
    Epiphany


    Flowers gathered in the morning,
    Afternoon they blossom on,
    Still are withered by the evening:
    You can be me when I'm gone.

    @Foos

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    It's only '17. Kilgore's Avatar

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    Default Re: Describing a complex concept with a single word

    Nostalgia: The official definition is, "A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations", which is complex enough. Then when you think of the sadness that is usually the immediate result of nostalgia, that the insufficient definition somehow omitted completely, that's an even more complex concept boiled down into a single word. Being happy, and sad, at the same exact time, as your mind brings you to another place in time, while simultaneously juxtaposing that past with the present, and it's all teed up on a hair trigger, that multiple senses can fire it off, at any given moment.


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