What is the word used for remembering something when the memory makes one emotional or sad? Like thinking of a beloved who is not there anymore or something that happened in the past.

I looked and found the word reminisce, but it's used for joyful recollection of past events. But I want the word for sadness or emotional thoughts associated with the past. Please include an example sentence.

  • 6
    Getting nostalgic. This can conjure a wide range of very specific emotions (and could be called an emotion in itself, perhaps) but basically refers to remembering something and getting emotional about it.
    – Caleb
    Jul 12 '15 at 13:59
  • 1
    Portuguese saudade is pretty good for this, but it's not really an English word. Jul 12 '15 at 14:06


From Dictionary.com:

  1. characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning.

  2. pensive, especially in a melancholy way.


I can't think of a specific word for remember sadly in general. Thinking of a death or other traumatic event in the past is mourning or lamenting. If remembering a missed opportunity or a mistake made in the past then you are regretting it.

Other than those specific cases then I would say remember sadly or recall sadly.

References: Google dictionary service


A couple other terms are lament and pine...

He lamented the loss of the wilderness that had long sheltered him from civilization.

He spent long hours pining over his lost love.

I'm guessing the second one is closer to what you're looking for.

Or if you really want to convey a deep sadness, you could use mourn...

He mourned the loss of his students till his dying day.




Also appears occasionally as nostalogize.

Nostalogize appears in quotes in Life, as referenced here: https://www.google.com/search?q=nostalogize

As a US American, this is a term I've heard repeatedly. I'm surprised to find so few references to it online.

It is a verb form of the more commonly encountered noun, nostalgia, which is usually described as a bittersweet emotional experience.

: pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again

Here is an example sentence: As I watched the old man taking his last breaths, I began nostalgizing about my childhood, remembering how he had taught me to ride a bike, to work hard, and to take care of those you love.

Nostalgizing appears, also marked in quotes, in The New York Times in a 2013 article: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/07/09/science/what-is-nostalgia-good-for-quite-a-bit-research-shows.html?pagewanted=all&referrer=&_r=0

  • Thanks for answer. Also reminisce is used only for en joyful recollection of past events. Am I right?
    – Abhishek
    Jul 13 '15 at 12:13
  • Well, some dictionaries include the idea of enjoyability under reminisce, but not all. At least often, it means an enjoyable remembering. It can be used neutrally of emotion: to recall something about the past. But it does not normally carry the sweet/sad emotional meaning that nostalgizing/nostalogizing does. Jul 13 '15 at 13:48

Elegiac... thinking of the past that can't be repeated.

  • 1
    That's a good suggestion, but citing a source would make it a better answer.
    – Davo
    Sep 15 '17 at 11:15

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