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. the feeling that no matter what you do is always somehow wrong—that any attempt to make your way comfortably through the world will only end up crossing some invisible taboo—as if there’s some obvious way forward that everybody else can see but you, each of them leaning back in their chair and calling out helpfully, colder, colder, colder.
  1. kittensandsherlock reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  2. flyingfishtailoutpost1 reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  3. chupacabrastarship reblogged this from 11-could-flirt-with-a-brick-wall
  4. aroacegirl reblogged this from batmansymbol
  5. tcgsideblog reblogged this from thefarfire
  6. 11-could-flirt-with-a-brick-wall reblogged this from thefarfire
  7. thefarfirefiction reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  8. thefarfire reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  9. aeriannemartell reblogged this from quibbler
  10. phoenixofms reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  11. izmeneniye reblogged this from petrichorlore
  12. mooncxke reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  13. exsqueezeyou reblogged this from quibbler
  14. redsinfinity reblogged this from petrichorlore
  15. verbivore8642 reblogged this from quibbler
  16. taylornugent reblogged this from petrichorlore
  17. too-tired-2-function reblogged this from prove-you-wr0ng
  18. apollonianredux reblogged this from petrichorlore
  19. kat-lives reblogged this from quibbler
  20. prove-you-wr0ng reblogged this from quibbler
  21. quibbler reblogged this from petrichorlore
  22. petrichorlore reblogged this from propertyofregulus
  23. anhourbeforedawn reblogged this from propertyofregulus
  24. kurticusmaximus reblogged this from propertyofregulus
  25. hilabicious reblogged this from dictionaryofobscuresorrows
  26. propertyofregulus reblogged this from batmansymbol
More Information