I've occasionally had "nostalgia" for events and times I did not experience, e.g. WWII or The Summer of Love.

Is there a word (or phrase) for that?

  • Is this not just fantasizing? "I sometimes fantasize about going to Woodstock" – John Feltz Oct 11 '16 at 3:15
  • Not quite. More of a deja vu feeling, as if I'd been there. – Dave Oct 11 '16 at 3:42

There may not be a single word that denotes nostalgia specifically for events and times one did not experience, but there is a phrase: collective nostalgia.

From the source linked above:

Collective nostalgia refers to the nostalgia originated from emotional attachment to collective cultural identities without earlier personal participation experience.

In slightly plainer words, "collective nostalgia" is nostalgia for events or experiences that you can "remember secondhand" as part of your cultural background but that you couldn't directly experience because you were in the wrong place or the wrong time (or both).

[Source: "An Exploratory Study of Collective Nostalgia" by Faye Kao]

  • 1
    A very interesting word, even though it seems to be a 'technical' word from psychology . Thanks for introducing it. I did a bit of googling, and it seems Social Nostalgia is a much more common word. Similarly the words collective/social amnesia – R.S. Oct 11 '16 at 8:08

Wistful: characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning. Dictionary.com

Or you could use the noun, wistfulness.

  • I'm annoyed that wistful didn't occur to me, good answer. – Dave Oct 11 '16 at 16:17

It seems that you are not the first person to have sought a single word term for this. Others have gone so far as to create a term to fill the gap. Anemoia

anemoia - n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known

Copyright John Koenig 2009-2016

However, the Merriam Webster definition of nostalgia

a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also : something that evokes nostalgia

says 'return to or of' which I think means that it can include yearning for a past period without 'return' being a necessary condition.
So 'Nostalia' can include pasts you have not personally experienced, but if you want to sound fancier, someone made you a word.

  • I wish I could select two answers. – Dave Oct 11 '16 at 16:18

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