15 Words Every Outdoor Lover Should Know (But Doesn’t)
The twist: most of these don’t exist in English. Don’t worry, we translated them for you.
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
We love this polyglot collection from the Positive Lexicography, an international trove of “bliss” words curated by Tim Lomas, a lecturer at the University of East London. Lomas’ work-in-progress contains words and phrases that hint at experiences that bring humans joy. The twist? Most aren’t translatable to English. We dug in, found the ones that are especially apropos of an active, outdoor life, and added our take. If you don't feel blissed-out just thinking about these concepts, we're sure you'll find that word that's always been on the tip of your tongue.
Að nenna (Icelandic, v.): The ability or willingness to persevere through tasks that are hard or boring
Ever run more than 10 miles on a treadmill? Or 3,100 miles on a one-block course (that's 5,649 loops)? Enough said.
Chrysalism (English, new coinage, n.): The amniotic tranquility of being indoors
Like a bombproof bivy bag during an early-season mosquito hatch. Awesome Scrabble fodder.
Cynefin (Welsh, n.): A place where one feels one ought to live; the relationship one has to the place where one was born and/or feels at home
As you point your car back toward Los Angeles after a weekend in the Eastern Sierra you might say, “Dude, Bishop’s my cynefin. One day I’m gonna quit my job and dirtbag it in the Buttermilk. Definitely.”
Datsuzoku (脱俗) (Japanese, n.): Freedom from habit, escape from the routine and conventional
Like these unschoolers who believe in ditching classrooms and standardized tests for an outdoor, hands-on education.
Erlebnis (German, n.): Living fully, experiencing life deeply and intensely in the here and now
Wherever you go, there you are. Be here now. Rinse and repeat. We recommend immersion in a forest wilderness. As did John Muir…
Fjellvant (Norwegian, adj.): Being accustomed to walk in the mountains
Who was it who said something about climbing the mountains to get their good tidings? (See “erlebnis.”)
Friluftsliv (Norwegian, n.): Living in tune with nature
In a nutshell: get back to healthy, natural ecosystems whenever possible. It's the easiest medicine we have.
Genki (元気) (Japanese, adj.): being healthy, energetic, and full of life
Joie de vivre, by any other name.
Gökotta (Swedish, n.): lit. 'Early-morning cuckoo', waking up early to hear the first birds sing
We’d like a word for crack-of-nooner. Nothing wrong with nursing that third cup of espresso while your dawn patrol pals are tagging the summit.
Peiskos (Norwegian, n.): lit. 'Fireplace coziness,’ sitting in front of a crackling fireplace enjoying the warmth
Yeah, but first you've got to build the fire. Tinder, kindling, wood, spark, and enjoy.
Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) (Japanese, n.): 'Bathing' in the forest (literally and/or metaphorically)
Take this one literally, and you’ll accumulate wood chips where the sun don’t shine. It may be safer to take a long walk in the redwoods.
Sisu (Finnish, n.): Extraordinary determination in the face of adversity.
Two words: Aron Ralston.
Uitwaaien (Dutch, v.): lit. 'To walk in the wind'; to go out into the countryside (e.g., clear one's head)
Whether you live in the country or city, we recommend doing this at least twice a day. Here are some of our favorites for when you feel like going a little farther from home.
Wabi-sabi (侘寂) (Japanese, n.): imperfect and aged beauty, a ‘dark, desolate sublimity’
Sometimes beauty is in the flaws, like that dream cabin you built miles from electricity and next to the stream tainted with cow urine.
Zanshin (残心) (Japanese, n.): A state of relaxed mental alertness (especially in the face of danger or stress)
“If I have a combination of calm and fear, I access mental states way beyond normal consciousness,” said the late BASE-jumper Dean Potter. “That’s why I choose to do scary things.”