Ever heard of the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows? It’s a blog written by John Koenig, who invents words and gives them melancholic definitions in order “to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.”
I discovered the site via Merriam-Webster’s 10 Perfectly Cromulent Words, which features the Obscure Sorrows word Vellichor (“the strange wistfulness of used bookstores”). It’s a made-up word, but it’s been getting traction online, so…does Vellichor qualify as a “real” word now?
And let’s take it a step further: Vellichor sounds like Petrichor, which has seen usage as a baby name. So could Vellichor also become a baby name?
If so, could other Obscure Sorrows words become baby names too? Here are some of Koenig’s coinages that may have onomastic potential:
- Opia, “the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye”
- Tangency, from a “moment of tangency,” which is “a glimpse of what might have been”
- Fitzcarraldo, “an image that somehow becomes lodged deep in your brain” and “grows into a wild and impractical vision”
- Sonder, “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”
Could you imagine any of the words above morphing into human names?