Hiraeth (pronounced hee-raee) is an absolutely glorious Welsh term that can be translated loosely 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.
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4 thoughts on “Word Nerd: Hiraeth”
Love your site Ella! You basically have an online version of what I have been keeping in hand-written form since the ’90s. Any new word I came across, I’d write it down and its definition once I got back to the dictionary.
So, new word for you to follow up on considering you have a wonderful description of Hiraeth: ‘Solastalgia’. Not my invention but I was interviewed by the BBC a while back on it. This is the word for this century. It will be a welcome addition to your site. 🙂
Also, check out Glenn Albrecht’s site (he is the originator of solastalgia); he is fecund with insightful expressions:
All the best
Thank you so much for reading Justin and I’m absolutely tickled that you’re enjoying my site! Thank you also for the word. I’m looking forward to looking into it more ad delving into the links you shared. I hope you’re having a magnificent Autumn!
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