Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How can you define "Wanderlust"...?

Wanderlust is described as a loanword from German to English that designates a strong desire for or impulse to wander, or, in modern usage, to travel and to explore the world.


The word came into English in 1875 or 1902 (what's a 27-year disparity between friends?) as a reflection of what was then seen as a characteristically German predilection for wandering that may be traced back to German romanticism and the German system of apprenticeship.

The term forms from the German words wandern (to hike) and Lust (desire). The term wandern is frequently misused as a false cognate, it in fact does not mean "to wander", but rather "to hike". Placing the two words together translates to "to enjoy hiking", although is commonly described as an enjoyment of strolling or wandering.

In German the term has become somewhat obsolete. A more contemporary equivalent for the English wanderlust in the sense of "love of travel" would be Fernweh (literally "an ache for the distance").

The initial of the term is always capitalized in German ("Wanderlust") but usually written in lower case in English ("wanderlust").


So yes, I have recently been looking up the definition of the term 'wanderlust'. I have to admit that the results have been less than stellar. I mean, yes I can find the literary meaning of the word and even the etymology, but it just doesn't seem sufficient.

How can such sparse, clinical and uninspired descriptions possibly capture the realities and the effects of the condition itself? Or maybe it's me...

Maybe what I'm really looking for is something that would describe the wondrous experiences of giving in to this wanderlust. Yeah... Maybe that's it. And in this case, I would have to agree with the more contemporary interpretation of "Fernweh". Because God knows that I do sometimes get this "ache for the distance".

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