Sometimes there are some thoughts that make you feel so empty that when you deeply think about it it's like you are a plastic bag that all the air goes out of. It's a combination of fear, sadness and uselessness (I mean philosophically not emotionally or psychologically like how people have less self confidence). I personally find myself having that feeling sometimes when I feel so deeply like I understand death. And it takes me with it. But I don't know how to describe it in English. I first thought of "voidening" but I don't think that is even a word. And also I think it's actually totally something irrelevant :)). So how one would describe it? I want to use it in a context such as:

It doesn't always bring the same emptying feeling with it.

But emptying also doesn't feel right. It doesn't express it the way I want. I'm looking for something more poetical that can deliver my feeling better.

Another example of that feeling is when I imagine myself all alone in the middle of space far from every other planet or living organism. Cold, dark, and silent.


16 Answers 16


It fills me with a forlorn feeling

TFD - sad or lonely, especially from being deserted or abandoned.

MW - bereft, forsaken. "left quite forlorn of hope". Sad and lonely because of isolation or desertion.

Example sentences from the web:

1 - "I often pick up an abandoned, forlorn feeling from houses where the owners have died."

2 - "waved them goodbye from the door like forlorn parents waving off a honeymoon couple"

3 - "growing stronger with each passing day is the empty, forlorn feeling that totally consumes me."

4 - "This passage captures the forlorn feeling of chronic illness. Even if you finally reach remission, you have no friends left that want to spend time with you. The isolation is ghastly."

5 - "A relentlessly forlorn feeling wouldn't go away, no matter how many beers he washed down."


I would call that feeling "deflated."

deflated adj
1. having lost confidence, hope, or optimism

TFD Online

The figurative usage suggests the opposite of being "inflated," meaning filled up with something, (usually a gas, as a balloon), that would render the object full and buoyant.


I would use draining. Especially in the context of the example sentence you provided.


This happens to me regularly, now that I'm older. I always refer to it as my Existential Crisis or Midlife Crisis. The two are related although not exactly the same, but I suspect some of us experience both simultaneously. Some people may feel one way or the other, however. And I'm sure every individual experiences it their own way.

Existential crisis (examples from Wikipedia of the feelings / thoughts involved):

  • Realizing that the Universe is more complex, mysterious, larger and beyond current human understanding.
  • Searching for the meaning of life.

Midlife crisis (examples, also from Wikipedia):

  • A deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished.
  • Ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life.
  • Longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness.
  • 2
    These both describe events/periods of time where you have a couple of a particular set of feelings and behaviors, not those feelings and behaviors themselves.
    – Cubic
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 11:38

For completeness, I'll also offer up angst:

A feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.

Like Bread's answer, it is often prefixed by existential, which probably fits your requirement more.


I'd go with despair.

Definition of despair

1: utter loss of hope

a cry of despair 

gave up in despair



You are feeling Detachment.

But there are two forms of it:

  1. First form is when you are at peace... When there is a complete detachment (also called non-attachment) from things, people or concepts of the world and thus attain a heightened perspective. Example Thought: "Everyone is so perfectly playing the drama of life."

  2. Second form is when you are deeply troubled... When there is an attachment, but nothing worthy visible in that attachment (so it is effectively an attachment to something whose worth is nothing). This is also called - Existential Crisis. Example Thought: "If one day I will be forgotten, what is the purpose of all my work?"

Generally, second form is a precursor to first form.

Source for first form.

Source for second form.


You're looking for an adjective to describe the thing making you feel such a way, right? So words like "existential crisis" or "isolation" aren't right. "Foreboding" is also incorrect: it means, "the messenger that comes before" and refers specifically to feelings like dread, where the subject feels that something bad is coming. It has nothing to do with feeling empty.

Just keep in mind that we will use slightly different words depending on the context. Your request includes several distinct kinds of emotional states, so you can't necessarily use a single word as a "catch-all." Depending on the kind of empty you feel (actually empty or empty of energy, empty of desire, etc), and whether there's sadness mixed in, or just pure numbness, and/or if you reached that point by working hard or by a big disappointment, etc.

  • J. Taylor's "dispiriting" is good after a failure or a disappointment. "dis-" means "apart" or "split," "reversing" or sort of "not." So the word means, "to remove of [object]'s spirit." It's the kind of empty you feel when you lose the will/desire to face a problem or try again. e.g. "His third failure to pass the bar exam left him dispirited."

  • "Draining" has also been suggested, and it's very good for emotional fatigue. It can be sudden and complete ("I never knew how draining writing that report could be." or, "The court battle was utterly draining.") or gradual and/or partial ("Being in this relationship and fighting the same fights all the time is so draining. I just want to leave it behind.").

    • Another option is "numbing [thing you're describing]" You might use this with "mind-numbing" or on its own: "I never want to go back to that mind-numbing medicine again." "Eventually, the pain was replaced with a numbing chill (in my heart/throughout my mind)."

We often use phrases in English for this kind of complex emotion/state, too. You can say that something "left a void" or "created a void" in yourself or your heart. You can specify what was drained or emptied out or exhausted: "(something) drains [my] will to live." You can use "numb" or "unfeeling" in a phrase too: "it left me numb (and unfeeling) to [something]."



This is an old word that means something is dark, gloomy, and depressing. "Distant" and slow-moving and sad. This word is not described as archaic or obsolete over at it's page on Merriam-Webster, but it certainly is out of common use. Incidentally, it's obsolete enough that my English instructor accused me of plagiarism after using it in a paper. An example of it's use:

Because of its saturnine character, I couldn't help but drive faster past the graveyard that night.


Another example of that feeling is when I imagine myself all alone in the middle of the space far from every other planet or living organism. Cold, dark, and silent.


  • the condition of being alone, especially when this makes you feel unhappy

  • the fact that something is separate and not connected to other things

source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/isolation


I would call that feeling "foreboding." Cold, dark, and silent and foreboding!

foreboding noun

A feeling that something bad will happen; fearful apprehension.
‘with a sense of foreboding she read the note’

apprehension, apprehensiveness, anxiety, perturbation, trepidation, disquiet, disquietude, unease, uneasiness, misgiving, suspicion, worry, fear, fearfulness, dread, alarm premonition, presentiment, intuition, feeling, vague feeling, suspicion, inkling, hunch


Implying that something bad is going to happen.
‘when the Doctor spoke, his voice was dark and foreboding’

citation: oxford dictionary

  • 1
    I think this is too "aggressive" and "active" an idea: a foreboding is a perception of threat and I think the OP is after something oppressively passive and passionless - a draining of feeling. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 5:58



Google: entirely lacking or free from.

Merriam-Webster: being without a usual, typical, or expected attribute or accompaniment —used with of an argument devoid of sense, a landscape devoid of life.

So you could say "devoid of happiness / hope / joy"

Synonyms: free of, empty of, vacant of, bereft of, deprived of, destitute of, bankrupt of



TCD - A soul-destroying job or other activity is so boring that it makes you very unhappy:

Example sentences:

It doesn't always bring the same soul-destroying feeling with it.

Nursing in the combat zone was soul-destroying because of all the innocent lives lost.

Continuously battling with the insurance company was destroying her soul and sucking all the joy from the marriage.

  • 2
    Is a hyphenated word acceptable for "single-word requests" ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 2:42
  • It's a good question, but just for one point on a graph, I did not flinch when I read your answer and thought it contributed well to the question. +1
    – L0j1k
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 20:40

Personally I find Derelict particularly dramatic:


  • abandoned especially by the owner or occupant

Destitute might also resonate well:


  • lacking something needed or desirable


When something is said to be "vapid" it is completely uninteresting and boring. Here is a link to the definition at Merriam-Webster. For example:

It is tragic how many people like the music on the radio, considering popular culture is so vapid.


It doesn't always bring the same eviscerating feeling with it.

  1. to deprive of vital or essential parts

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.