+
Pop Culture

Can't find the right word for a hard-to-describe emotion? Meet a man who makes them.

Have you ever thought, "Is that word just made up?" Well, you were right.

Obscure Sorrows, defining, newly minted words, emotions
Image pulled from YouTube video linked to website.

Unique words defining emotions beyond the scope of a typical dictionary.

This article originally appeared on 07.02.15


What if you needed a word for something that you can't quite define? Where would you turn?

Have you ever tried to explain something but gave up because the person you're talking to wouldn't be able to relate? Or worse yet, there's not an actual word for what you're trying to explain?


Well, there's a word for that feeling: exulansis.

Haven't heard that term before? How about this one:

Anecdoche — a conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.

No? How about this:

Opia — the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye.

Now, before you start doubting your own vocabulary skills, you won't find those words in any of the major dictionaries. Instead, they come from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a collection of newly minted words for life's hard-to-define feelings.

So, these words aren't real? Well, it's not quite that simple.

Dictionary of (@ObscureSorrows) / Twitter

twitter.com

What makes something a "real" word?

It's a word that's found in the dictionary, you might say. That leads to an entirely separate question: Whose dictionary? Merriam-Webster? Oxford? Cambridge? Urban?

The truth is that language is ever-changing, and what one might say is a "fake" word today could very well be a "real" word tomorrow (or within a few years, at least).

In June 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary added a handful of new words to its rolls, including "Interweb," "jeggings," "hot mess," "crowdfunding," and "cisgender." Will all of these words stick with us for the long haul? Almost certainly not. Still, in the mind of OED's editors, those words are just as real as any others.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, on the other hand, contains many useful terms that you won't find in a traditional dictionary ... yet.

You'll find words like "Vellichor" ("The strange wistfulness of used bookshops") and "Adronitis" ("Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone") buried within the dictionary's six-year history.

While some terms come off as, well, obscure, others seem to fill meaningful voids left by the limitations of language for common emotions.

Its existence feels almost otherworldly, like spells from the mind of J.K. Rowling.

"I've been writing a dictionary of emotions for about five years, and still the most common question I get is, 'Are these words real?'" Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows creator John Koenig told Upworthy over email.

To answer that question, Koenig says (emphasis mine):

"One answer is an obvious 'no,' [they're not real] because you couldn't find them in a leather-bound dictionary — and because I create them myself by twisting together word roots from any one of a dozen different languages, from French, Japanese and Mayan to my personal favorite, Greek.

On the other hand, of course these words are real, because in reality there is no such thing. A word is not like a gold coin that you bite to tell whether it's counterfeit, so you might be able to trade it for a mule. It becomes real when it's spoken and understood. And by that standard, I've seen some of my words (particularly 'sonder') used earnestly in many different conversations online. Are they all wrong? Is 'sonder' any less meaningful because it hasn't yet been enshrined on the page of a leather-bound book? After all, almost every word in the Oxford English Dictionary has a birthdate, a notation of its first recorded use, back when it was just a yawp of nonsense that only made sense to one person, then two. All words were born this way."

Here's "sonder" by the way:

When it comes to how we think about words, popularity is often a stand-in for legitimacy.

You might not find the verb "retweeted" in the dictionary on your bookshelf, but it's an understood term. Koenig has thoughts on that, as well:

"So then, does realness require the blessing of popular use? How many millions of people does it take to change the word 'literally' to mean 'figuratively'? Is a word still alive if only one person knows its meaning? Or is that too far?"

"Personally, I think words should exist for their own sake, regardless of how they are used," Koenig says, pointing out that our language is particularly lacking when it comes to describing emotions.

"When I post a new definition or a new episode of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, I often have no idea if anyone else out there feels the emotion I'm trying to pin down. Because it's a one-man show, it's totally possible that it's just me. So then this question about realness [of a word] becomes just another way of asking, 'Am I the only person who feels this way?'"

Koenig isn't alone in his curiosity about the authenticity of words. English professor Anne Curzan gave a TED Talk on this exact topic.

During her talk, Curzan recounts someone asking her if "defriend" is a "real word." She wound up in the same sort of existential rabbit hole:

"What makes a word real? My dinner companion and I both know what the verb 'defriend' means, so when does a new word like 'defriend' become real? Who has the authority to make those kinds of official decisions about words, anyway?"

Here's Curzan giving her TED Talk "What makes a word 'real'?" in March 2014.


She touched on the process of words making their way into the dictionary. This might seem like a stale topic, but it's pretty fascinating.

To her, dictionary editors are similar to anthropologists — that's a way most of us probably hadn't thought about them before (if we thought about them at all).

"So how does a word get into a dictionary? It gets in because we use it and we keep using it, and dictionary editors are paying attention to us. If you're thinking, 'But that lets all of us decide what words mean,' I would say, 'Yes it does, and it always has.'

Dictionaries are a wonderful guide and resource, but there is no objective dictionary authority out there that is the final arbiter about what words mean. If a community of speakers is using a word and knows what it means, it's real. That word might be slangy, that word might be informal, that word might be a word that you think is illogical or unnecessary, but that word that we're using, that word is real."

So, what makes a "real" word? That's entirely up to you.

TikTok user Absolutely Lauren catches an online scammer.

There was a massive jump in credit card fraud in America in 2021 due to the pandemic. According to CNET, fraud involving credit cards jumped 69% from 2020 to 2021, affecting 13 million Americans and costing $9 billion.

In a world where online transactions are part of everyday life, it’s hard to completely protect your information. But, by staying vigilant and monitoring your accounts you can report fraud before it gets out of hand.

A TikTok user by the name of Lauren (@absolutelylauren) from San Diego, California, got a notification that there was a $135 charge on her card at Olaplex’s online store that she hadn’t made. Olaplex sells products that repair excessively damaged hair. Before reporting the charge to her credit card company she asked her family members if they used her card by mistake.

“I don’t wanna shut my card down if it’s just my mom ordering some shampoo,” Lauren said in the video. “Definitely not my two younger brothers, they’ve got good hair but they don’t color it.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Anthony Duran on Unsplash

Belgian Malinois, the smartest dog breed.

If you Google "smartest dog breeds," most lists you'll find put border collies in the No. 1 spot, followed in some order by poodles, German shepherds and golden retrievers.

But a new study of canine cognition from the University of Helsinki puts a whole different breed at the top of the ladder—one that most of us have probably seen before but haven't heard the name of—the Belgian Malinois.

Best known as a police or security dog, the Belgian Malinois is a shepherd breed that looks very similar to a German shepherd. Both breeds are of similar height and coloring, but the Malinois is lighter weight and its ears are more triangular-shaped, according to the American Kennel Club.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

'Harry Potter' alum Rupert Grint builds his Target-obsessed toddler her own mini store

'She does love Philly. She loves hoagies, she loves water ice. And I mean the big one is Target. She is obsessed with Target.'

The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon Twitter

Rupert Grint's 2-year-old is obsessed with Target.

Who doesn't love perusing the aisles of Target? For many moms it's like a mini-vacation if you can manage to get out of the house without children. You grab a coffee and walk down every aisle touching anything that looks like it may feel soft. It's sort of like an American parent's pastime.

And when you can't sneak away without your custom-made tiny human in tow, you bring them with and by default it becomes an activity they also enjoy. Turns out Rupert Grint's 2-year-old daughter, Wednesday, took note during her time living in America and since returning to the U.K., where there is no Target, she misses it. Every American reading this just audibly gasped.

I know, I know. Take a deep breath. They don't have our weird obsession with the bullseye because it hasn't had a chance to hypnotize them … yet. But Grint's daughter, who is fairly new to being across the pond, has felt the joy of being inside that famous red and white store. She has seen the red polos and khaki pants and there's no turning back for her, so Grint, most famously known for his role as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter, built her one.

Keep ReadingShow less
Source: Library of Congress
True

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is known for many things—but perhaps his greatest legacy is sparking an unshakable hope that someday, change will come.

Just two months before his assassination in 1968, Dr. King spoke to a crowd in Washington, D.C. and famously said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Spreading (and keeping!) that hope is exactly what Meta aims to accomplish with their latest VR for Good project, MLK: Now is the Time, a 20-minute documentary VR experience featuring the use of hand gesture-based tracking technology.

Developed by TIME/TIME Studios and Flight School Studio for Meta Quest, MLK: Now is the Time drops you into a thoroughly modern interpretation of the March on Washington. Viewers hear first-person stories and can interact with key moments in history, showing them what it means to be an activist. Limbert Fabian, the director of the project, felt inspired to develop something fresh and different that would catch the attention of a new generation. As a parent, he knows what mediums are most likely to engage young people.

“I wanted the audience to walk away feeling that Dr. King's words are relevant today. Perhaps even motivate them to engage in activism at a local level,” said Fabian. “I imagined that one day a high-school social studies class somewhere is going to be diving into that time in our nation's history and our project would be a tool that we can offer them to dive in deeper to look at not the day but the ideas that fueled that gathering, and how the words were meant to push into a future for the country.”

TIME Studios worked closely with the King estate to maintain the integrity and accuracy of the original moment. Audio from the “I Have A Dream” speech is layered throughout, culminating in an encounter with Dr. King and a call to continued action around his vision of one day living in a nation where people are no longer judged by the color of their skin, but by their character.

Because the rules for VR technology are still being written, this project is on the cutting edge of merging the past—in the form of archival footage—and the present. There is a sense of intimacy in the VR world; it’s a space where a person can “drop in” and feel as if they are somewhere else, immersed in a world of activism. But even more importantly, the creators want to inspire a sense of hope, just like Dr. King did every time he spoke.

Some of the key, impactful moments in the film include a simulation of getting pulled over by police, as a person of color. Many people may not regard the police as a threat, but in this VR experience, getting pulled over feels authentic for the user. Their heartbeat may heighten. Their palms may get sweaty. That’s something that will stick with viewers and give them something to think about.

Another aspect, Fabian says, is the ability for people to use their hands to add to the immersion experience. “It’s seamless,” said Fabian. “The act of raising a fist holds weight in a lot of different ways: empathy, defiance, an act of contribution…it’s a gesture that’s easily recognizable. I don’t have to say anything and you instantly know.” This engagement is what makes the experience so unique.

“I want people to leave this experience with a renewed spark of hope. What type of hope that is is not for me to decide. However, for so many, King represented a hope for our nation, and I want people to remember that the legacy of hope did not die when he did,” said Andrina Smith, the writer for the project.

Even though it’s been nearly sixty years since Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech, it’s as relevant today as it was when he first uttered those words. Racial inequities and injustices persist; the work is far from over. And this, my friends, is why hope is such an important piece of the puzzle.

'We must, we must, we must increase out bust!'

Since it was first published in 1970, Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” has been a literary rite of passage for young girls. Though written decades ago, the book has remained timeless for its authentic portrayal of that exciting, yet horrifying chapter of female adolescence and all the milestones that come with it—including, but not limited to, that first period.

At long last, fans will get the chance to see this classic play out on the big screen. Movie adaptations of books tend to be hit-or-miss, but the fact that Judy Blume herself gave her seal of approval, even going so far as to say the film is “better than the book,” seems promising.


And judging by the reactions to the trailer released Jan. 12, I’d say that folks are hella optimistic.

A few key moments left people particularly excited and nostalgic:

1. The dreaded “changing bodies” school lecture

Oh, the joys of a stern teacher talking about blood flowing from the vagina at school. Maybe sex education has evolved over the years, but the awkwardness of anatomy conversations at a young age seems to be everlasting.

2. Margaret’s prayers to God that accurately sum up preteen girl angst

Even the nonreligious can relate on some level to just not being the weird one, to please, please, please, please just this once be normal while growing up, and wondering if this discomfort will ever go away. This is an essential part of the preteen experience for many, until we realize, of course, that we are much better off just celebrating who we are. And Margaret's earnest prayers are obviously a major aspect of the book, given the title. Duh.

3. Margaret asking mom for a bra

Margaret and other girls can be seen clumsily experimenting with hairspray, curling irons and other grown-up beauty products in order to “fit in.” But the most coveted, most revered item of all, of course, is the bra.

4. Buying pads for the first time at the local drug store

The utter humiliation at finding out the clerk is a boy. Perfection.

5. And of course, the iconic line…

“We must, we must, we must increase our bust!”

That's right, diehard Blume fans. The trailer has all that and more. Watch below:

Comments to trailers can be fairly mixed. However this one received a mountain of positivity.

"I lost track of how many times I read this book while growing up in the 70s. It’s amazing that it’s taken this long for it to be made into a movie!" wrote one person.

Another added, "I'm honestly surprised that a movie version of this book doesn't already exist. But I guess it's time. LOL I'm here for it. I remember reading this in fifth grade. Such a good book for young girls to read and realize that all the weirdness they are going through is normal. It will definitely be a good film viewing for today's middle schoolers and for all the millennials, Xillennials and gen-Xers who grew up with the book."

Perhaps Margaret’s story is so universal because it was inspired by a real-life experience. On her website, Blume shared that as a sixth grader, she did all the things—like stuffing her bra, doing exercises, lying about getting her period—because she yearned to develop into adulthood the way her classmates were (relatable). Blume put her longings to paper, and the rest is history.

Rather than putting it under a modern spin, the movie takes place in the '70s, and spreads its focus across three generations between Margaret (played by Abby Ryder Fortson), her mother (played by Rachel McAdams), and her grandmother (played by Kathy Bates).

Bates indicated that the book’s original intention would be kept intact as she told People that “I think women throughout history have been taught to feel negatively about their bodies and about the processes that their bodies go through. I think this film will help young women feel better about their bodies."

Whether for nostalgia, or for getting a sweet dose of feel-good comedy, you can see “Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret” in theaters April 28.

Science

9-year-old finds rare, prehistoric megalodon tooth the size of her hand in Maryland waters

'I'm looking for a meg!' Molly declared on her way to the bay. Then miraculously, she found one.

Photos courtesy of Alicia Sampson

Molly Sampson found a 5-inch megalodon tooth on Christmas morning.

Nine-year-old Molly Sampson has been searching for teeth in the water since before she could walk. In her young life, she's found more than 400 shark teeth, some so tiny it takes a magnifying glass to identify them, and the largest measuring an inch or two—until now.

Molly's father, Bruce, grew up on the bay in Calvert County, Maryland, and has been hunting fossils at Scientists Cliffs since he was a small child. Bruce has dreamed for decades of finding a "meg"—a large tooth from a megalodon, a massive prehistoric shark longer than a bus, which scientists estimate could have eaten a killer whale in five bites.

Sometimes our dreams end up coming true through our children—and that's just what happened when the Sampson family went fossil hunting on Christmas Day, 2022.

Keep ReadingShow less