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The word I'm seeking is a word used to describe the feeling you get when confronted with the immensity of nature and how little we are. It's what you get when you stand on the beach, watching the ocean when a storm is coming, or looking at the stars at night in the open, it's not fear, though it has some of that, it's a lot of mixed emotions: awe, fear, contemplation, admiration, etc.

It's not a word I made up, I read it a long while ago on a grammar group and now I need it, but I can't remember it.

And it's not a common word neither, it's very specific, it's the name of that mixed feelings you get in the situations I described, neither positive nor negative, a mix of both.

Someone mentioned ¨sonder¨ on the comments, and it's quite near that, but sonder means realizing your problems are minuscule compared to the Universe, which is not the same

And I apologize for not being clear enough before, English is not my native tongue.

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    Related: "A word for realising the insignificance of human life against the scale of the universe and enjoying it". Is that the kind of word you want, or do you want a word for feeling like a dot compared to the universe and not enjoying it? Giving more details about what you want this word to mean, and in what context you want to use it, will make it easier to answer your question.
    – herisson
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 21:30
  • There are words that describe the experiencing of a grand revelation, some of which are included in the answers to the question @suməlic linked. However, none of these words speak specifically to the realization of the idea this question describes.
    – R Mac
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 21:36
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    @TomásVittino I'd request that you elaborate to explain if you want a general word for realizations of this magnitude or a specific word for this specific realization.
    – R Mac
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 21:36
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    Inconsequential springs to mind.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 0:29
  • @suməlic is right -- we need the feeling you're aiming for. "Overwhelmed"? The "awestruck" or "in awe" answer is very good -- it's hard to tell where you want to go with this. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 0:35

8 Answers 8

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How about Awestruck?

Filled with or revealing awe: e.g. people were awestruck by the pictures sent back to earth

Oxford English Dictionary

from

Awe

A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder: e.g they gazed in awe at the small mountain of diamonds the sight filled me with awe

Oxford English Dictionary

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The adjective "sublime" is the word I use for this. The OED defines it as: "Of a feature of nature or art: that fills the mind with a sense of overwhelming grandeur or irresistible power; that inspires awe, great reverence, or other high emotion, by reason of its beauty, vastness, or grandeur."

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  • A sublime thing might make you feel the sensation the OP is describing, but "sublime" describes the thing and not the feeling itself. You may experience a sublime sunset or eat a sublime meal, but it doesn't make you feel sublime. Commented Apr 19 at 13:26
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Without clarification I'd suggest feeling dwarfed.

dwarf VERB Cause to seem small or insignificant in comparison

Some books use it that way:

Admittedly this is a highly Romantic text in which Kleist feels himself dwarfed by the immensity encompassed by the painting, and yet his confusion results in more than a glimpse of the sublime. - One

I felt dwarfed by the immensity of Lay Me Down's illness. - Two

After a moment, when I got used to the dark,I found a light switch and was startled to discover myself dwarfed by the immensity, power, and beauty of Clifford Cole's paintings, which were hanging and standing everywhere. - Three

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  • "dwarf" adjective, verb, or noun: - Be careful. It's best to use a synonym, except in established contexts such as "dwarf iris." Commented Jan 12 at 22:36
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I heard the writer and videogame critic Yahtzee refer to this feeling as a

Perspective-Spiral

referring to the feeling of mounting insignificance as you gaze into the cosmos.

I thought it was quite an evocative term. It more specifically refers to the vertigo-like feeling one can get when looking at the stars, and the ego barrier breakdown that comes with internalizing the vastness of the universe for a moment.

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Numinous:

A numinous experience is when something completely astonishes you. It’s such an experience that words are not enough to describe the feeling, but it leaves you knowing that there's must be something more powerful than you. Often people refer to things in the natural world that are so beautiful they feel overwhelmed. For example, the view from the top of a mountain or a beautiful sunrise. For others it may be an experience such as a new born baby. For some people this experience is so strong that it convinces them that God must exist.

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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 5:31
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There is a phenomenon known as the ‘overview effect’ which has been attributed to the sensation some astronauts experience when looking at the earth. I appreciate it is not one word - but like you, I too had read this ‘word’ somewhere and could not find it - this is as close as I have come and I think it was what I was looking for

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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 11 at 11:02
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I think the "Overview Effect" is what you're looking for.

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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 1:48
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"Existential crisis" is the phrase I know of.

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    You should add some explanation of why you think this fits. Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 15:33
  • Crisis? I don't think that fits.
    – David
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 12:39

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