Monday, October 1, 2007

Word of the Day: Weltschmerz

The Word of the Day is:

weltschmerz \VELT-shmairts\ noun, often capitalized
*1 : a mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state
2 : a mood of sentimental sadness

Example sentence: The early lyrical works of Austrian poet Nikolaus Lenau express the weltschmerz of the Romantic period.

Did you know?
The word "weltschmerz" initially came into being as a by-product of the Romanticism movement in Europe of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The poets of the Romantic era were a notably gloomy bunch, unwilling or unable to adjust to those realities of the world that they perceived as threatening their right to personal freedom.

"Weltschmerz," which was formed by combining the German words for "world" ("Welt") and "pain" ("Schmerz"), aptly captures the melancholy and pessimism that often characterized the artistic expressions of the era. The term was coined in German by the Romantic author Jean Paul (pseudonym of Johann Paul Friedrich Richter) in his 1827 novel _Selina_, but it wasn't adopted into English until nearly 50 years later.

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