Vorfreude

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Definition: The intense, anticipative joy derived from imaging future pleasures.

Pronunciation: vor-FROY-dah

Origin: As German as lederhosen and Volkswagens. This is a direct assimilation.

Why this word?

A little hobby of mine is collecting terms that describe oh so effectively a difficult and strange sensation.

It’s been recognized that, when lacking a term in English accurate enough to pin onto a specific emotion, the easiest way to remedy the deficiency is to dig around in German vocabulary.

The Germans seem to have a word for every strange quirk of limbic response we humans feel– There’s “schadenfreude” (feeling glee when recognizing the unfortunate plights of others), and “fremdschämen” (literally “external shame”; fremdschämen is vicarious embarrassment, like what you feel when a character in a book you’re reading does something just so humiliating, you feel it as sharply as the character does). It’s ridiculous.

Usually, these emotions are almost indescribable when experienced in the personal interior. They’re obvious and recognizable for each and every one of us, because the ability To Feel extends far beneath the conscious building blocks of language; but the thought of finding one word that just perfectly fits the multitude of synonyms we have for a feeling in English seems… a little far-fetched, admittedly.

I like it when I find a word that proves wrong that general belief.

How would you use this word in a sentence?

Example: “During the day, I kept my nose down and dug in hard for my studies, but at night– right before I’d slip from the edge and fall into sleep –I’d allow myself to wonder and marvel in thoughts of vorfreude. And when I began to overwhelm, it were these same visions of my future successes that would sustain me, and buoy my resolve to work as hard as I could until those beautiful, easy days of fantasy were reality.”

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About Author

Veronica Jacobs is a fiction writer, blogger, academic editor, and sci-fi enthusiast. Currently working freelance (with a background in English Literature), she spends most of her time writing.

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