"Weltschmerz" is German for "world pain," and though every dictionary defines it differently, it's basically an exhausted, sad feeling about the whole world.
Part of speech:
(Like “milk,” “rice,” and “education,” uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units. You talk about “some milk,” “the rice,” and “a lot of education,” but you don’t say “a milk,” “three rices,” or “many educations.”
Likewise, talk about “the Weltschmerz,” “such Weltschmerz,” “a lot of Weltschmerz,” “no Weltschmerz,” and so on, but don’t say “Weltschmerzes.”)
How to use it:
As with other foreign borrowings, be sure that your situation calls for this somewhat fancy term. And be sure to capitalize it, since it's a German noun (and all of those are capitalized.)
Talk about someone's Weltschmerz, being in a state of Weltschmerz, being afflicted by Weltschmerz, experiencing a touch of Weltschmerz, the Weltschmerz that you feel in a certain situation, and so on.
One of my favorite essays is "The Catastrophe of Success," by Tennessee Williams. In it he talks about suddenly becoming famous and respected and how deeply he subsequently sunk into Weltschmerz.
Out of all the instruments, the violin, to me, seems to breathe out Weltschmerz. I can hardly listen to one without inexplicably tearing up.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "Weltschmerz" means when you can explain it without saying "sad longing for a better world" or "world-weary pessimism."
Think of something that disappoints you about the world or about humanity, and fill in the blanks: "(Seeing / Hearing / Thinking about / Reading about) _____ can bring on a touch of Weltschmerz."
Example: "Reading about criminals who prey on the elderly can bring on a touch of Weltschmerz."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing with some fascinating thematic word lists assembled by Stephen Chrisomalis, an English language expert over at The Phrontistery who kindly gave permission for me to use his work. (Check out his site; you will definitely enjoy it!)
Try a question each day, and see the right answers here the following day--or if you can't wait, follow the link to Stephen's list to dig out the answers yourself. Have fun!
You're probably familiar with the Greek phileein, meaning "to love." Could you complete the definitions for these love-related terms?
Easy: Germanophilia is the love or fondness for _____. Medium: Something petrophilous lives on or thrives in areas that are _____. Hard: Someone with stigmatophilia has a love for or obsession with _____.
Easy: Germanophilia is the love or fondness for Germany or the Germans.
If this describes you, then today's issue is right up your alley! :)
Medium: Something petrophilous lives on or thrives in areas that are rocky.
Hard: Someone with stigmatophilia has a love for or obsession with tattooing or branding.
Try this one today:
There are at least 100 different styles of dancing, according to Stephen's list. Can you tell the difference between the shag, the shimmy, and the shuffle? Fit those words into their correct definitions:
- A dance featuring sliding or scraping of the feet is a _____.
- A dance where participants hop energetically is a _____.
- A jazz dance featuring rapid shaking of the body is a _____.
Can't wait until tomorrow for the right answers? Check out Stephen's full list and discussion at the Phrontistery.
A Point Well Made:
“Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to Heaven.”
2. Even at the _____, the _____ on his face evinced the extent of his Weltschmerz.
A. party .. curiosity
B. carnival .. blankness
C. funeral .. wildness
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.