- Yearning; wistful longing.
“When I’m cooped up in the winter, I often feel a Sehnsucht for the joys of summer.”
“After serving as a bridesmaid for the fifth time, she started to feel a Sehnsucht for her turn as a bride.”
“Teens often feel a Sehnsucht and rush to grow up, but older generations can feel the opposite desire to return to their youth.”
German, mid-19th century
Why this word?
We turn to German for a word that expresses a nuanced emotion we don’t have a single word for in English. “Sehnsucht” describes a wistful longing, perhaps a wishful thinking for what could have been. It has likely been used in German for much longer, but it entered English usage in “Vanity Fair,” the 1848 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray: “It is no blame to them that after marriage this ‘Sehnsucht nach der Liebe’ subsides.” The full German phrase translates as “longing for love.”
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