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10 Obscure Human Emotions You’ve Felt But Couldn’t Explain

We are social animals, doomed to feel emotions that are too strong to decipher or put into words.

Image: 10 Obscure Emotions You Find Hard to Explain

Humans have this amazing ability to feel emotions that are so profound and complex that we sometimes face a hard time expressing them through our language. We are social animals, doomed to feel emotions that are too strong to decipher or put into words. It can be frustrating to experience something you cannot quite understand.

This is why a brilliant writer John Koenig, penned and put together the compendium of all the most indescribable feelings in his book ‘The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’. Let’s not waste any more time and look at the list of 10 such emotions that are most common to us humans. 


Sonder is a sudden realization that you can never completely know a person. It’s when you start to understand that everyone has their own story that you might never get to know about ever. They have the same complexities and their own struggles in life, just like you. You realise that you can only get to know as much about a person as they might allow you to. People usually go through a sonder while in a crowded place where their mind is in solitude. 


Have you ever had a desire that something bad happens to you for no reason? As dramatic as it may sound, psychologists say it’s one of the most common emotions felt by a human being. That feeling, or as John mentioned in his book, the desire to be struck by a disaster, is called Lachesism. It is a deep dark impulse that most of us have to be struck by a tragedy or be exposed to agony and come out from it stronger. It’s usually born out of our intrinsic desire for challenges and growth, which pushes us to test our resilience and prowess. 

Hanker Sore

This is an emotion not many people might feel comfortable admitting, but Hanker Sore is referred to as a phenomenon of finding someone so attractive that it makes you feel angry and loathsome towards that person for some reason. It differs from Jealousy or Envy in the sense that it is way subtler and more tenuous. When you experience Hanker Sore, you don’t readily feel hostile or envious towards that particular person, but deep down, you feel sad looking at their great share of luck.   


I surely understand it’s a complex word to pronounce, but I am also sure no one is new to its presence. Mauerbauertraurigkeit is a sudden feeling of wanting to push away people and turn totally defensive. Insecurity is the one to blame when we experience this emotion. Due to it, we often feel we aren’t good enough and that people might be judgemental towards our weaker side and will reject us for who we are. 


Have you ever been to a party where the air around you surrounds you with chatter, laughing, dancing and much more, but it just doesn’t feel right to you, and all you wish is to escape this unfamiliar ground ASAP? It may happen around your friends and family too, where you feel like you don’t belong here. ‘The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’ would describe Monachopsis as,

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The subtle, persistent feeling of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings as a seal on a beach…unable to recognize your ambient your intended habitat, in which you’d be fluidly, brilliantly, effortlessly at home.” -The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows


This is a unique emotion. Onism refers to an awareness of how little of the world you will ever be able to experience. Those of us who love to travel and are much of an adventurer sometimes feel wistful over the fact that there are so many more beautiful places and experiences out there that we might never be able to witness. Onism refers to the fear of unfulfilled desires that we might never achieve before we die.


Ellipsism is a feeling often misinterpreted by people as inquisitiveness or curiosity, but really it refers to the desire to understand the world a little better and to know what will happen in the future. It’s something most scientists, philosophers or thinkers would relate to. People also feel scared about how they will never get to know how history turned out to be and how they will be remembered, what legacy they will leave behind.


This emotion is very similar to Sonder. Gnossienne is the feeling you get when you realize that you don’t actually know someone as well as you think you did. It’s like the realization that even your closest friends or family members have a side that you will never know of. A part of them they have kept hidden from everyone else.


Have you ever just wished that you could sit for a bit, relax and stop stressing over everything so much? I am sure you have. Liberosis is a feeling of fear that you are not living your life to the fullest. One wishes to loosen their grip on life and stop glancing back after every small step is taken. Rather, living life playfully without worrying so extensively about petty things.


It’s late at night, and you seem to feel restless about something. Nighthawk is a feeling when you can’t sleep for some reason. This big hawk of thoughts comes and flutters in the corners of your mind. Psychologists say that these recurring thoughts come to you at night due to some unfinished business you need to resolve but have not acknowledged yet. 

All these complex emotions existed all along, and now you finally know what names they have. If you relate to any of the emotions above, you are special. In this world full of sorrows, you’ve experienced some obscure ones! Cheer up while I drink a big warm cup of Sonder!

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Written By

Curly head student journalist with a dazzling music taste and a pocket full of poetry. Accepts gifts in the form of white lilies or Spotify playlists.



  1. Kavya

    May 12, 2021 at 7:25 am

    This is amazing. Very insightful ♥️

    • Yashvi

      May 12, 2021 at 10:54 am

      So beautifully writte. Well done 👍👏

    • Neha

      May 15, 2021 at 10:02 am

      Need a personal tutor to help me pronounce this emotions so as its easy for me to tell people what emotions I am actually going through

  2. Saumya Singh

    May 12, 2021 at 7:48 am

    This is a brilliant work

  3. Madhurima Roy

    May 12, 2021 at 7:52 am

    Amazing and unique article, keep it up!

  4. Priyanshi

    May 12, 2021 at 9:28 am

    Such amazing work! So insightful and beautifully penned!

  5. Mk 10

    May 12, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Amazing, I liked the Gnossienne and Nighthawk especially, keep up wid the great work you r doing ☺

    • Anushka Dave

      May 12, 2021 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks for sharing Mudd!

  6. lakshya

    May 12, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    Awesome work👏

    • Anushka Dave

      May 12, 2021 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks for reading it 😀

  7. Urvashi

    May 13, 2021 at 3:29 am

    Cheers with a big cup of Sonder! :’) XD
    Winsome work… I love your vocab though 😉

  8. Jaishree Tambi

    May 13, 2021 at 7:42 am

    this is so unique!

  9. Dhairya Dewangan

    May 13, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for providing me with the names of feelings I’ve always felt. Great work

  10. Rama sakhuja

    June 15, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Excellent Dear👏👏👏👏

  11. Anushree Acharya

    June 27, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    Everything feels better when we have the right words to express what we’re truly feeling. This articles will surely help a lot of people! Good work Anushka.

  12. Anushree Acharya

    June 27, 2021 at 3:41 pm


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