adventures in vocabulary

December 16, 2009

i just learned a new word, weltschmerz:

Pronunciation: \ˈvelt-ˌshmerts\

Function: noun

Etymology: German, from Welt world + Schmerz pain

Date: 1864

1 : mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state
2 : a mood of sentimental sadness

more on the background of the word:

Weltschmerz (from the German, meaning world-pain or world-weariness) is a term coined by the German author Jean Paul and denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind. … It is also used to denote the feeling of sadness when thinking about the evils of the world—compare empathytheodicy. … The modern meaning of Weltschmerz in the German language is the psychological pain caused by sadness that can occur when realizing that someone’s own weaknesses are caused by the inappropriateness and cruelty of the world and (physical and social) circumstances. Weltschmerz in this meaning can cause depressionresignation and escapism, and can become a mental problem (compare to Hikikomori). 

gotta love the germans. a compound word for everything, and for everything a compound word (the best, of course, being vergangenheitsbewältigung).


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