"Have you ever experienced a brand-new feeling that welled up inside of your heart and filled you with indescribable pain?"

A quote from the English translation of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. Two characters are discussing a sort of painful, melancholic longing, like love but perhaps a new feeling entirely.

The Portuguese word saudade seems close, but I am aware that it does not have an English counterpart.

Is there a word I haven't heard that fits this description?

  • 9
    You're looking for a word to describe something that is indescribable? Jan 23 '14 at 12:13
  • Most definitely! @AvnerShahar-Kashtan
    – epizeuxis
    Jan 23 '14 at 12:21
  • 2
    Excruciating maybe?
    – oerkelens
    Jan 23 '14 at 12:22
  • @epizeuxis The translators may have gone with "indescribable" because there is literally no English word! On the other hand, they may be intentionally referring to the amount, rather than the type of pain -- "indescribable pain" meaning so painful that there isn't even a word to describe it (although "excruciating" would usually suffice). How would you describe what "saudade" means?
    – nxx
    Jan 23 '14 at 12:30
  • 2
    @epizeuxis How about heartsickness? heartsick = "despondent, typically from grief or loss of love." That's the most relevant definition I found (it is often defined without reference to loss of love). Note it appears when I search "heartsick" in Google, but it is not a link I can click on (Google dictionary??). Then there are related words like "despondency" = merriam-webster.com/dictionary/despondent. Am I getting close?
    – nxx
    Jan 23 '14 at 12:50

I think 'yearning' is what you're looking for, although I love 'saudade' myself. One of those words watered down by common misuse, but the definition of yearning is "1. deep longing, esp. when accompanied by tenderness or sadness."


There are several adjectives often used for such emotional pain, including

pining - to feel great longing or desire; yearn and to mourn or grieve for

wrenching - causing great physical or mental suffering [also gut-wrenching]

aching - >feel intense sadness or compassion


Two words come to my mind:

insurmountable - incapable of being surmounted, passed over, or overcome; insuperable.

overwhelming - overpowering; so great as to render resistance or opposition useless.


torment - Any extreme pain, anguish or misery, either physical or mental.

And the author of that definition seems to have thrown in "anguish" and "misery" as a bonus.

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