The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.

The author's mission is to capture the aches, demons, vibes, joys and urges that roam the wilderness of the psychological interior. Each sorrow is bagged, tagged and tranquilized, then released gently back into the subconscious.

▸ visit the facebook page to hear the backstory behind each word

▸ follow on twitter (@obscuresorrows) for whatever reason

▸ send me a tumblr message describing emotions you need words for

▸ send me an email via

JOHN KOENIG is a designer and commercial director who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His dictionary has been acclaimed by New York Magazine, Washington Post Express, John Green, Jason Kottke, and the guys from Radiolab.

He is currently writing a book version of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It is gigantic and completely made up.

Copyright © 2013 John Koenig. All content is intended to be read at night.


n. a moment of awareness that someone you’ve known for years still has a private and mysterious inner life, and somewhere in the hallways of their personality is a door locked from the inside, a stairway leading to a wing of the house that you’ve never fully explored—an unfinished attic that will remain maddeningly unknowable to you, because ultimately neither of you has a map, or a master key, or any way of knowing exactly where you stand.

  1. thesunroseinoctober reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows and added:
    The definition I first read several months ago, presented to my imaginary friends on the web.
  2. solbolt reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  3. lannchester reblogged this from mahbucky
  4. aadarshinah reblogged this from mahbucky
  5. staleflowers reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  6. criminalspines reblogged this from wherethewarswerent
  7. i-need-do-not-desire-a-username reblogged this from wherethewarswerent
  8. thefaultinoursubtitles reblogged this from 5taci
  9. 5taci reblogged this from wherethewarswerent
  10. wherethewarswerent reblogged this from argre000
  11. davecider reblogged this from thelankydouche
  12. blood---sugar---baby reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  13. randomdaisy reblogged this from basedthursday
  14. thelankydouche reblogged this from komradekrisis
  15. argre000 reblogged this from basedthursday
  16. apoopcalypse reblogged this from king-owl
  17. basedthursday reblogged this from komradekrisis
  18. codenamebaby reblogged this from king-owl
  19. komradekrisis reblogged this from king-owl
  20. king-owl reblogged this from angelkiller0203
  21. seafoampunk reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  22. smw006 reblogged this from princess-pinee
  23. princess-pinee reblogged this from jeongsins
  24. jeongsins reblogged this from caitlyndahling
  25. caitlyndahling reblogged this from winterfellchesters
  26. jointhebluebooks reblogged this from emanonshatters
  27. gnossienne2013 reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
More Information