The Inuit have 50 words for snow

While the Great Inuit Snow Vocabulary is an urban myth, hundreds of years from now the survivors of The Holecene Extinction will look back at our time and say: „People at that age were so troubled they had more than 100 words to describe pain.”

Poignant, but undeniable, you too will have no difficulty compiling such a list.

„Abrupt, ache, acute, agonising, anguish, beating, bitter, bittersweet, blind, brief, bright-stinging, chronic, cold, considerable, constant, cramping, crippling, cruel, crumpled, cutting, deep, deep-seated, discomfort, distant, distinctive, distressing, dizzyingly intense, drilling, ever-present, excessive, excruciating, explosive, fierce, fleeting, gross, gruelling, haunting, highly localised, hopeless, hot, icy, immediate, ineffable, intense, intolerable, intricate, irritation, itchy, knife-like, knot-like, limp, loud, low-grade, mild, miserable, nagging, numbing, old, pang, permanent, poignant, pricking, pulling, pulsating, real, severe, sharp, sickening, slight, smashing, sore, spasm, squeezing, stabbing, steady, stinging, strain, sudden, sullen, tender, terrible, thrilling, throb, tight, tingle, torment, torture, twinge, unbearable, unceasing, unendurable, unnecessary, unspeakable, in utter pain, waves, weighty, worrisome, wrenching”

How about positive words that describe the quality of physical motion? After all the main reason for having brains is to produce movement, and the main difference between plants and animals is that we can move about freely and can make funny faces. How to google that? „Define graceful movement”?

Maybe I could start with… easy, elegant, enjoyable, graceful, pleasant, smooth, supple … that’s 7 words right there… and then I could jump in to help with negatives: effort-less, un-interrupted, with no jerky movements or stops in between… and add some neutral terms, just to make the list look longer… accelerating, circular, decelerating, fast, slow… a mere 15 words from the top of my head…

Maybe if I hadn’t just jotted this down so swiftly and leisurely, the list could be a bit more refined and polished. After all, a well executed movement can look quite exquisite, stylish, or even flashy.

„Better to open a shop than to curse the darkness”, wrote Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Me too, I want to inspire, not lament. Which words would you come up with?