10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had (2023)

By Melissa Dahl

(Video) The Doctor's Speech | The Zygon Inversion | Doctor Who

10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had (1)

In recent years, neuroscience has introduced a new way of thinking about our emotions. The scientists behind the latest brain-imaging studies say they can now pinpoint with precision where these feelings are located within our heads. In 2013, for instance, a team of psychologists published a study in which they claimed that they had found neural correlates for nine very distinct human emotions: anger, disgust, envy, fear, happiness, lust, pride, sadness, and shame.

This is an intriguing trend for academics like Tiffany Watt Smith, a research fellow at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London. “It’s this idea that what we mean by ‘emotion’ has evolved,” Smith tells Science of Us. “It’s now a physical thing — you can see a location of it in the brain.” And yet, of course, that’s not all an emotion is; calling the amygdala the “fear center” of the brain offers little help in understanding what it means to be afraid.

(Video) How To Reconnect With Yourself and Live The Life You Desire I Dr Gabor Maté

It’s exactly that — the subjective experience of emotions — that Smith explores in her charming new book, The Book of Human Emotions. It’s a roundup of 154 words from around the world that you could call an exploration of “emotional granularity,” as it provides language for some very specific emotions you likely never knew you had. “It’s a long-held idea that if you put a name to a feeling, it can help that feeling become less overwhelming,” she said. “All sorts of stuff that’s swirling around and feeling painful can start to feel a bit more manageable,” once you’ve pinned the feeling down and named it.

The odd thing about writing a book about discrete emotions you never knew existed is that you start to experience them — or is it that you were already experiencing them, and it’s just that now you know the name? Either way, Smith tells Science of Us that, while writing her book, she found herself batting away offers of help from others because she didn’t want to put them out. That is, she was feeling greng jai, a Thai term (that’s sometimes spelled kreng jai in translation) for “the feeling of being reluctant to accept another’s offer of help because of the bother it would cause them.”

Below you can find a brief list of ten more extremely precise words for emotions. But fair warning: Once you are introduced to the feeling, you may find yourself feeling it more often.

Amae: To be an adult, particularly in a nation like the United States, is to be self-sufficient. Yet there is something very nice, in an indulgent kind of way, about letting someone else handle things for you every once in a while. The Japanese word amae, as Smith defines it, means “leaning on another person’s goodwill,” a feeling of deep trust that allows a relationship — with your partner, with your parent, even with yourself — to flourish. Or, as the Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi has put it, it’s “an emotion that takes the other person’s love for granted.” It’s a childish kind of love, in other words, as evidenced by an alternate translation of the word: “behaving like a spoiled child.”

L’appel du vide: You’re waiting for the train when an inexplicable thought flashes into your mind: What if you jumped off the platform? Or perhaps you’re driving up some precarious mountain pass, when you feel strangely moved to jerk your steering wheel to the right and sail clear off the road. American psychologists in 2012 published a paper in which this feeling was dubbed the “high place phenomenon” (and their study suggested, by the way, that its presence does not necessarily signal suicidal ideation), but the French term for the phenomenon is much more alluring, as French words so often are: l’appel du vide, or “the call of the void.” As the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once observed, the emotion is so unsettling because of the way it “creates an unnerving, shaky sensation of not being able to trust one’s own instincts.” It’s a reminder, then, to perhaps not always let your emotions rule your behavior.

(Video) The Impossible Route - Tour De Gravel (We RACED 1 vs 1 Across France)

Awumbuk: It’s a funny thing about house guests. While they’re in your home and you’re tripping over the extra shoes and suitcases that are suddenly littered about your living room, you start dreaming about how nice it will be when they leave. Yet, after they do, your place often feels too empty. To the Baining people of Papua New Guinea, Smith writes, this feeling is so prevalent that it gets a name all to itself: awumbuk, or the feeling of “emptiness after visitors depart.” There is, luckily, a way of ridding the home of this rather melancholy feeling: Smith writes that “once their guests have left, the Baining fill a bowl with water and leave it overnight to absorb the festering air. The next day, the family rises very early and ceremonially flings the water into the trees, whereupon ordinary life resumes.” That’s one way to do it.

Brabant: In 1984, author Douglas Adams and TV comedy producer John Lloyd paired up to publish a book called The Deeper Meaning of Liff: A Dictionary of Things There Aren’t Any Words for Yet–But There Ought to Be. Smith apparently agreed with these two on at least this: that there should be a word for the fun of pushing someone’s buttons, to see how much you can tease them until they snap. Adams and Lloyd defined the word as the feeling you get when you are “very much inclined to see how far you can push someone.” (To my mind, an alternate definition might be “having a younger brother or younger sister.”)

Depaysement: People do some out-of-character things in foreign countries. They strike up conversations with strangers in bars, even if they would never do the same back home. They wear unflattering hats. There’s something about being a stranger in a strange land that’s equal parts exhilarating and disorienting, and this messy mix of feelings is what the French word depaysement — literally, decountrification, or being without a country — means to capture. It’s “the feeling of being an outsider,” and though getting lost because you can’t quite read the street signs as well as you maybe thought you could can be unsettling, the feeling of being somewhere else just as often “swirls us up into a kind of giddiness, only ever felt when far away from home.”

Ilinx: There exists a GIF of a fluffy white cat that speaks directly to my soul. In it, the cat is perched atop a desk, and as its human places various objects near its paws — a lighter, a glasses case, a wallet — it pushes each item off the desk and onto the floor. You might say the animal is expressing ilinx, a French word for “the ‘strange excitement’ of wanton destruction,” as Smith describes it, borrowing her phrasing from sociologist Roger Caillois. “Callois traced ilinx back to the practices of ancient mystics who by whirling and dancing hoped to induce rapturous trance states and glimpse alternative realities,” Smith writes. “Today, even succumbing to the urge to create a minor chaos by kicking over the office recycling bin should give you a mild hit.”

Kaukokaipuu: People of, say, Irish descent who have never actually been to the country of their ancestry may still experience an unexpected ache for it, as if they miss it — a strange, contradictory sort of feeling, as you can’t really miss someplace you’ve never been. But the Finnish recognize that the emotion exists, and they gave it a name: kaukokaipuu, a feeling of homesickness for a place you’ve never visited. It can also mean a kind of highly specified version of wanderlust, a “craving for a distant land” — dreaming from your desk about some far-off place like New Zealand, or the Hawaiian Islands, or Machu Picchu, with an intensity that feels almost like homesickness.

(Video) Getting Stuck In Negative Thoughts and Emotions (How To Rewire Your Brain From Negativity)

Malu: You’d like to think you are a person of average conversational and social skills, and yet this all evaporates the moment you find yourself sharing an elevator with the CEO of your company. The Dusun Baguk people of Indonesia know how you feel. Specifically, Smith writes that they would call this feeling malu, “the sudden experience of feeling constricted, inferior and awkward around people of higher status.” Instead of this being something to be embarrassed about, however, Smith’s research has shown that in this particular culture it’s considered an entirely appropriate response; it’s even a sign of good manners. Something to remember the next time your mind goes blank when your boss asks you a question: You are only being polite.

Pronoia: At one point in J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, Seymour Glass muses about himself, “Oh, God, if I’m anything by a clinical name, I’m a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.” About three decades later, sociologist Fred Goldner came up with a name for this: pronoia, the opposite of paranoia. Instead of the fear that you are at the center of some diabolical lot, pronoia, as Smith describes it, is the “strange, creeping feeling that everyone’s out to help you.” And, hey, just because you’re pronoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to help you.

Torschlusspanik: Life is passing you by. The deadline’s approaching. The train’s a-comin’. Literally translated from German, torschlusspanik means “gate-closing panic,” a word to summarize that fretful sensation of time running out. It may serve you well, when experiencing this panicky emotion, to hesitate before allowing it to spur you toward impulsivity, and call to mind the German idiom Torschlusspanik ist ein schlechter Ratgeber — that is, “Torschlusspanik is a bad adviser.”

10 Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had

FAQs

What are 10 types of emotions? ›

The patterns of emotion that we found corresponded to 25 different categories of emotion: admiration, adoration, appreciation of beauty, amusement, anger, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, confusion, craving, disgust, empathic pain, entrancement, excitement, fear, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, relief, ...

What is the word for not knowing your emotions? ›

What is alexithymia? Alexithymia is when an individual has difficulty identifying, describing, and expressing emotions. This term was coined by Peter Sifneos in 1972, and it comes from the roots of Greek words that literally mean, “lack of words for emotion.”

What are some unknown feelings? ›

Desiderium, and More Obscure Feeling Words
  • Desiderium. Definition: an ardent desire or longing; especially: a feeling of loss or grief for something lost. ...
  • Compunctious. Definition: feeling remorse or regret. ...
  • Alexithymia. ...
  • Leucocholy. ...
  • Trepidatious. ...
  • Compathy. ...
  • All-overish. ...
  • Callosity.

What are the rarest emotions? ›

Some of these strange feelings have names.
...
See how many you have experienced:
  1. Opia. This is the name given to the intense feeling of invasive arousal that one feels when engaging in mutual gaze—making direct eye contact with someone else. ...
  2. Déjà vu. ...
  3. Ellipsism. ...
  4. Chrysalism. ...
  5. Adronitis. ...
  6. Liberosis. ...
  7. Enouement. ...
  8. Jouska.
27 Jun 2015

What are 20 human emotions? ›

The 27 emotions: admiration, adoration, aesthetic appreciation, amusement, anger, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, confusion, craving, disgust, empathic pain, entrancement, excitement, fear, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, relief, romance, sadness, satisfaction, sexual desire, surprise.

What are the 12 basic human emotions? ›

More recently, Carroll Izard at the University of Delaware factor analytically delineated 12 discrete emotions labeled: Interest, Joy, Surprise, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Contempt, Self-Hostility, Fear, Shame, Shyness, and Guilt (as measured via his Differential Emotions Scale or DES-IV).

How can I express my feelings in words? ›

Come up with specific words that describe exactly how you feel. Instead of saying you feel 'bad' – find more specific words like afraid, frustrated, upset or anxious. Remember feelings are often described in one word (happy, excited, sad, angry).

How do you express your emotions? ›

Expressing Your Emotions in a Healthy Way: 16 Tips
  1. Use positive self-talk. ...
  2. Be a good listener. ...
  3. Try spirituality. ...
  4. Teach emotion words to young children. ...
  5. Practice empathy. ...
  6. Model emotional expression. ...
  7. Forgive. ...
  8. Practice acceptance.
24 Dec 2020

Are there 34000 emotions? ›

That makes sense — after all, human beings can experience over 34,000 different emotions. That's a lot to keep track of, and it's certainly a lot to feel. More conservative estimates identify 27 distinct emotional states — but even that is a lot to sift through.

What emotion is blank? ›

A blank expression is a facial expression characterized by neutral positioning of the facial features, implying a lack of strong emotion. It may be caused by a lack of emotion, depression, boredom or slight confusion, such as when someone refers to something which the listener does not understand.

What are feelings that start with L? ›

L
  • Limerence.
  • Loneliness.
  • Love.
  • Loyalty.
  • Lust.

Do we have 10 known emotions? ›

In previous thought, it was understood that there were six distinct human emotions - happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. But scientists have now found that the number is as many as 27.

What are the 24 emotions? ›

A statistical analysis of their responses found that the vocal bursts fit into at least two dozen distinct categories, including amusement, anger, awe, confusion, contempt, contentment, desire, disappointment, disgust, distress, ecstasy, elation, embarrassment, fear, interest, pain, realization, relief, sadness, ...

What are the 3 strongest emotions? ›

The Four Most Powerful Emotions
  • #1 Fear. The greatest (and most primitive, since it originates from our early reptilian brain) is fear. ...
  • #2 Anger. Coming in at a close second is anger. ...
  • #3 Sorrow. The third emotion is probably sorrow. ...
  • #4 Joy. The light at the end of the emotional tunnel is of course joy.
19 Apr 2010

What are the 9 types of emotions? ›

The Tantric tradition recognizes 9 Rasas that represent our basic emotions: love, humor, wonder, courage, calmness, anger, sadness, fear, and disgust.

What are 9 feelings of human? ›

Nine Core Feelings
Nine Core Feelings
AngerResentment Irritation Frustration Annoyance Exasperation
FearApprehension Overwhelmed Threatened Concern Dread
PainHurt Pity Sad Shock Despair
JoyHappy Elated Hopeful Peace Pleasure
5 more rows
6 Feb 2014

What are the 7 common emotions? ›

Here's a rundown of those seven universal emotions, what they look like, and why we're biologically hardwired to express them this way:
  • Anger. ...
  • Fear. ...
  • Disgust. ...
  • Happiness. ...
  • Sadness. ...
  • Surprise. ...
  • Contempt.

What are 16 emotions? ›

They used the algorithm to track instances of 16 facial expressions one tends to associate with amusement, anger, awe, concentration, confusion, contempt, contentment, desire, disappointment, doubt, elation, interest, pain, sadness, surprise and triumph.

What are the 8 core feelings? ›

Primary: The eight sectors are designed to indicate that there are eight primary emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust. Opposites: Each primary emotion has a polar opposite.

What are the 5 strongest emotions? ›

The 5 Strongest Emotions to Harness in Your Content
  • Surprise. People love to be surprised. ...
  • Fear. Fear is a powerful emotion, but you have to be careful with it in practical use. ...
  • Frustration. ...
  • Anticipation. ...
  • Sympathy.

What are 4 ways to express feelings? ›

Accept your feelings rather than deny them. Avoid being judgmental of yourself and others. Practice how you'd express yourself by journaling your feelings. Be a good listener when people share things with you.

How many feelings are there? ›

A new study identifies 27 categories of emotion and shows how they blend together in our everyday experience. Psychology once assumed that most human emotions fall within the universal categories of happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust.

Is your name is sad? ›

Your Name is a sad movie. It has a happy ending and there are funny moments, but it's sad. It's heartbreaking. It's absolutely devastating.

How do you express your feelings to a girl? ›

7 Ways of Expressing your Love to Your Girlfriend
  1. Music. Music is a universal language. ...
  2. Write an original poem/song. ...
  3. Rent a romantic movie to watch together. ...
  4. Take time to know more about what interests her. ...
  5. Tell her you love her. ...
  6. Put your arm around her in a crowded place. ...
  7. Do things for her you'd never do otherwise.
24 Jun 2014

What is the strongest emotion on earth? ›

Psychologists say that love is the strongest emotion. Humans experience a range of emotions from happiness to fear and anger with its strong dopamine response, but love is more profound, more intense, affecting behaviors and life changing.

What are the 6 most common emotions felt? ›

The Six Basic Emotions

A widely accepted theory of basic emotions and their expressions, developed Paul Ekman, suggests we have six basic emotions. They include sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.

What are the 6 emotions? ›

During the 1970s, psychologist Paul Eckman identified six basic emotions that he suggested were universally experienced in all human cultures. The emotions he identified were happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger.

What is the name of feeling nothing? ›

apathetic. / (ˌæpəˈθɛtɪk) / adjective. having or showing little or no emotion; indifferent.

Why is my face blank? ›

Flat affect is a condition that causes people to not express emotions in the same way other people might. For example, when a person without flat affect is happy, they may smile brightly or in some other way show that they're pleased. A person with flat affect shows no facial expressions.

What are the 4 main facial expressions? ›

These seven are: Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger, Contempt and Surprise.

What is a feeling that starts with R? ›

R. Rage: Violent uncontrollable anger. Rapture: A feeling of intense pleasure or joy.

What are the 3 types of emotional expression? ›

Emotional experiences have three components: a subjective experience, a physiological response and a behavioral or expressive response.

What are the most common emotions? ›

Some researchers report that happiness and relaxation are the most frequent human emotions [16], whereas others find that anxiety and excitement dominate our emotional life [14].

How many emotions are there 34000? ›

With over 34,000 distinguishable emotions, psychologist Robert Pluchik has elegantly simplified and organized our instinctive state of mind into eight basic emotions in his Wheel of Emotions.

What are the 2 real emotions? ›

From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It's true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear.

What is the oldest and strongest emotion? ›

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. ― H.P. Lovecraft: 6X9" 184 ...

What emotion is stronger than fear? ›

Love is stronger than fear, but fear will win out unless we allow love to empower sacrificial action in the world. Love is stronger than fear, but only if we participate in love. Only as we entrust ourselves to love. Only as we allow love to nourish us.

What is the most viral emotion? ›

Viral content typically evokes high-arousal emotions, such as joy or fear.

What are the 10 positive emotions? ›

Dr. Fredrickson identified the following as the ten most common positive emotions: Joy, Gratitude, Serenity, Interest, Hope, Pride, Amusement, Inspiration, Awe, Love.

What are the 9 basic human emotions? ›

Navarasa means nine emotions; rasa means emotional state of mind. Nine emotions are Shringara (love/beauty), Hasya (laughter), Karuna(sorrow), Raudra (anger), Veera (heroism/courage), Bhayanaka (terror/fear), Bibhatsa (disgust), Adbutha (surprise/wonder), Shantha (peace or tranquility).

What are 8 emotions humans feel? ›

Robert Plutchik proposed eight primary emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust and joy, and arranged them in a color wheel.

What are the 8 big emotions? ›

Primary: The eight sectors are designed to indicate that there are eight primary emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust. Opposites: Each primary emotion has a polar opposite. These are based on the physiological reaction each emotion creates in animals (including humans…

Is there a list of emotions? ›

They include sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.

What are 5 examples of common emotions people feel? ›

The emotions he identified were happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger.

What are the 7 basic human emotions? ›

Here's a rundown of those seven universal emotions, what they look like, and why we're biologically hardwired to express them this way:
  • Anger. ...
  • Fear. ...
  • Disgust. ...
  • Happiness. ...
  • Sadness. ...
  • Surprise. ...
  • Contempt.

What are the 8 negative emotions? ›

Examples of some of these negative emotions may include:
  • Anger.
  • Emptiness.
  • Frustration.
  • Inadequacy.
  • Helplessness.
  • Fear.
  • Guilt.
  • Loneliness.

Videos

1. Physical Expressiveness Part 1: Ten Problems With It
(SovereignGraceMusic)
2. She's the Man (8/8) Movie CLIP - I'm Viola (2006) HD
(Movieclips)
3. Jordan Peterson Emotional Interview with Patrick Bet-David
(Valuetainment)
4. OMG! Did the Queen just say that?! | Auditions | BGT 2019
(Britain's Got Talent)
5. Former FBI Agent Explains How to Read Body Language | Tradecraft | WIRED
(WIRED)
6. 15 HABITS THAT MAY KILL YOU
(5-Minute Crafts)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nicola Considine CPA

Last Updated: 12/25/2022

Views: 5925

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nicola Considine CPA

Birthday: 1993-02-26

Address: 3809 Clinton Inlet, East Aleisha, UT 46318-2392

Phone: +2681424145499

Job: Government Technician

Hobby: Calligraphy, Lego building, Worldbuilding, Shooting, Bird watching, Shopping, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Nicola Considine CPA, I am a determined, witty, powerful, brainy, open, smiling, proud person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.