Hiraeth (pronounced hee-raee) is an absolutely glorious Welsh term that can be translated quite literally into English as “longing”, yet it’s true meaning has a great deal more nuance to it then simple longing. Hiraeth describes a deep, inborn sense of yearning for a home, a feeling, a place or person that is beyond this plane of existence. Hiraeth describes the inborn longing of the Welsh for their culture before it was usurped by the English. It may have been once of this world, yet now it is no longer, whether through the basic passage of time, or even deeper, perhaps it is of something we once had, but in this life do not, yet the longing, the hireath remains. Hiraeth could also relate to feelings of nostalgia or a wistful yen for something you know you cannot go back to, yet your being feels the pull of it, the grief of knowing it no longer is, no longer can be. Hiraeth is a beautiful, bittersweet, soulful feeling. One that gives voice to something which lies buried in all of us, yet from time to time it surfaces and can encompass us. Let hiraeth wash over you as it will, and know that it’s part of the human and soul experience.
** If there’s a word you’d like to see added to the Word Nerd roster, please feel free to drop me a line or suggest it in the comments – I love feedback and recommendations!