Dec 13

“The Emotionary”: Unique Terms for Feelings

Words that don’t exist for feelings that do. Tagline for The Emotionary

So, the thing is, sometimes we have trouble naming feelings, especially those beyond the basics of mad, glad, sad, and bad. Some of the more complex emotions are pride, guilt, and shame, for example.

And some feelings are so complex or confusing or deep or whatever that we don’t even have the words for them.

In 2016 actress Eden Sher turned her previously existent website into a book, The Emotionary: A Dictionary of Words That Don’t Exist for Feelings That Do. It’s illustrated by Julia Wertz.

From Kirkus Reviews: “Situated somewhere between Urban Dictionary and a beginner’s guide to anxiety and introversion, the book highlights the importance of emotional literacy but stops short of addressing emotional competence, relying instead on the audience’s developed sense of irony to understand the validity of the newly named feelings while also managing to recognize any unhealthy emotional practices.”

Sher’s past site included thoughts on the importance of the relationship between feelings, communication, and connecting with others:

Think of the Emotionary as a toolbox that can help you figure out exactly what you’re feeling: instead of having a hammer for ‘Sad,’ a Phillips head screwdriver for ‘Angry’ and a wrench for ‘Anxiety,’ you now have a fancy-schmancy selection of endless gadgets for every possible emotional gradation.

Because here’s the thing: we need words to label our otherwise incomprehensible feelings in order to understand each other and relate to one another. It’s great to be able to feel. But to actually be aware of our feelings so we can talk about them together-that’s pretty exceptional.

A selection of Emotionary words:

  • guiltroversion n. the guilt from wanting to see no one and do nothing, to want to be completely alone and feel all your feelings; esp. when you don’t have the energy to explain to another person
  • crisitunity n. an opportunity that arises from a crisis
  • intempetent adj. possessing the inability to live in the present
  • strympathy n. the effortful kindness one gives to well-intentioned annoyers
  • nonversation n. the act of trying to be heard but falling upon deaf ears

And here’s one Emotionary word I’ve actually used a lot—but not as defined below:

therapize v. to give advice to others based on things you learned in therapy, but never follow the same guidance yourself

The other meaning, the one behind my own usage, has to do with the act of being involved in therapy. As in, Could having your individual therapy, couples therapy, and group therapy appointments all in the same day be overtherapizing?

Whatever. Both versions are good; and both in their various forms, by the way, equally tick off the spell-check. And that feels…I don’t know…unspellbinding?