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Definition: Literally “winter sorrow”, “winter sadness”; a feeling of a deep sadness, usually comparable to the cold, still, dark heart of full winter. (Sometimes described as the product of the cold, dark heart of winter, instead of a sorrow similar to the feeling.)

Pronunciation: win-tur-cherry


Old English, almost pulled directly from German. The meaning of “winter” is obvious; “cearig”, however, means “grieving, sad(ness)”.

Why this word?

I don’t know about deep, bone-wrapping winter sadnesses. Maybe that comes from having lived all of my life in a predominately sunny climate which usually stays warm and sometimes turns boiling as the year progresses. Most “deep, dark sorrows” attributed to wintertime have been exhibited in environments where the sunlight goes away for long periods, and the earth is suffocated under snow.

I have no real experience with true frost or snow, or icy, marrow-deep awfulness– of which I am sincerely glad. (I’d rather burn than freeze. At least with heat, you can swim.)

But, I do know about that still, quiet sort of feeling which seems to come as a non-negotiable included emotion with the season of “Winter”, in all of its forms, and the ending of the year; no matter your location.

It’s when you’re still home and still in house clothes at four in the afternoon on a Thursday, and haven’t done anything that day besides nap or drink something hot or sit quietly. And, it’s not that you can’t get up and do something, but rather… Well, there really doesn’t feel like there’s much To Do, in the first place. Doing Things just sort of absently seems superfluous to your being awake. You might eat, but getting up to cook or forage doesn’t have any appeal. You’re comfortable, unoccupied, not really thinking at all. It like the world has been put on pause.

It’s the feeling of a holiday; a winter holiday, when you know there are other people in your home, and they’re nearby, but you haven’t seen each other because it’s too chilly to move out of bed, and no one has any plans– so why bother? The house feels full, every room with someone inside, somewhere, but even the animals are curled up silently in the corners, staying away from each other because… Well, there’s just something about the day. You can’t put your finger on it.

No one really talks. No one really moves, but everyone’s okay. The weather outside is still. The air in the house is heavy but not choking, or overbearing. You’re just… still. Not thinking. Not caring. You’re in a quiet headspace; like a muted sort of zen.

It’s nice.

How do you use the word wintercearig in a sentence?

“The day was wintercearig and full with a thick sort of emotion that felt neither debilitatingly upset nor necessarily happy.”


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Written by Veronica Jacobs

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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