Douglas Adams's The Meaning of Liff made an attempt to rectify these holes in our language. It's a worthy little volume (I still call deserving individuals "gormless clunes"*), but it was published in 1983, and a fair bit has changed since then. This over-mediated age in which we now live -- an age of heightened sensitivity to, well, everything -- seems to call for some additions to the lexicon.
Here are some definitions for everyday emotions and situations most of us can relate to. Please feel free to provide some concise terms for any or all of them, or add to the list.
- the frustration one feels when struggling to find the right word for a feeling or situation, combined with a sense of futility due to the conviction that the right word does not, in fact, exist
- the sudden conviction that what one is in the middle of saying is complete and utter bullshit, while at the same time being helpless to stop oneself from continuing
- the creeping horror that comes over one upon returning home after a party, happily revisiting the many conversations in which you enthusiastically engaged, and slowly realizing that everything you said all evening was complete and utter bullshit... and that everyone but you knew it at the time
- the growing certainty that every funny thing that has ever happened to you has already been co-opted by the entertainment industry, and the sense of existential redundancy that this engenders
- the alchemical process that turns liberal-minded individuals into conservatives precisely at the moment in which they become new parents
- the anxiety and indecision one feels when forced to choose between returning an unwatched rental DVD or incurring late fees, particularly when there is a distinct likelihood that said movie will ultimately prove mediocre
- the dread of being judged by video rental store clerks for one's sub-par movie selections, uneasily coupled with the sense of class superiority that dictates that one should not care what a goateed virgin thinks of you, further complicated by class guilt at thinking the latter, complicated still further by the gut sense that the clerk actually doesn't know you from Adam and doesn't give a rat's ass about your movie choices, thus rendering all your fretting irrelevant, which has the end result of making you feel irrational resentment toward the video store clerk simply for existing
- the worry that one could have picked a better online nickname for oneself, which occurs fleetingly every time one signs on to use a site
- the sensation of being highly empathetic toward someone who is himself suffering from acute vicarious embarrassment for someone else
- the anger and resentment one feels about experiencing, against one's will, vicarious embarrassment on behalf of someone (e.g. most Hollywood actors) who, by virtue of being richer and better looking than you, does not need your wasted pity
Oh, and Rusty Iron wanted me to add this one:
- the sense of mingled awkwardness and embarrassment that one feels when reluctantly forced to explain to one's partner that your reason for not wanting to engage in sexual relations with them is not due to any fault of theirs, but is entirely due to the fact that you masturbated just five minutes ago
The Germans probably have words for all these things. They also have the autobahn and an annual holiday that celebrates beer. Clearly the rest of us have some catching up to do.
*gormless = lacking sense or intelligence; clune = someone who just won't leave