Word of the Week: Sonder

As an avid reader and editor, I’m always trying to expand my vocabulary for multiple reasons. One, I just love words and discovering where they originate. Two, the more I know, the more helpful I am as an editor. Three, I love using fifty cent words people haven’t heard before that give me an excuse to talk about words some more!

With these “Word of the Week” blogs I hope to continue teaching myself and hopefully entertain (maybe teach?) some of you along the way.


  • The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.

Word Info

This one is interesting because it begs the question of who is really “in charge” of creating words, or verifying which words are “real” and which are not.

Sonder was a neologism (or newly termed word) created by John Koenig in 2012. His goal was to come up with new words for emotions that do not currently have words to describe them and it created The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. According to Koenig, he based the English sonder of the German word sonder meaning “special” and the French sonder meaning “to probe.”


Why I like it

I like this word because I like the discussion it brings forward. Is Merriam-Webster the only reliable source for verifying words? Who is to say that Joe-Shmo off the street can’t come up with a new word, spread the word (yes, pun intended) to the point that it’s common knowledge, that that word is not then a new “real” word?

Words get made up everyday for fads that last only months, yet those will earn a spot in the dictionary (or at least on dictionary.com——and where do we stand on the credibility of that site?). Why not projects like The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows?


Reminds me of…

Honestly, this type of discussion makes me think of high school and trying to keep up with the fad words that were forever updating. Watching as words like selfie and twerk and derp came into fashion was confusing if you were out of the Internet loop and really made me wonder where the line was between “real” words and just popular words.

Personally, I always stood on the edge of the popular trends, knowing just enough to understand the jokes really. But I couldn’t discount that, even though I didn’t always understand where they came from, they were still real words to everyone around  me. Shouldn’t that be enough for them to be real to everyone else?


So, now you’ve heard my opinion, what’s yours? Like the word? Hate it? Plan to use it in the near future? I’d love to hear about it!


Let me know your favorite words in the comments (maybe you’ll be the one inspiring the next “Word of the Week”)!

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