Is there a word for the feeling you get when looking at old machinery/practical objects/old industrial buildings when you feel the weight of their use by, and significance to, people of the past? I’m not talking about nostalgia, or wistfulness/longing for the past, but a sense of the value in to people, through utility, embuing the objects or buildings with some sort of totemic value, retrospectively. I feel this sensation very powerfully looking at ruined industrial buildings or in museums of old tools/machines.

  • Hi Hacopops, welcome to English Language & Usage. As you're looking for "a word", I've added the SWR tag. You might not be aware that there are strict rules for single-word-requests: "To ensure your question is not closed as off-topic, please be specific about the intended use of the word. You must include a sample sentence demonstrating how the word would be used." [My emphasis]. You can add these details by clicking on the edit link. Also, if you think you might use our site again (and I hope you do!), please make sure you take the Tour. :-) – Chappo Aug 7 '18 at 22:45
  • What do you mean by "totemic value"? (And wouldn't such a word apply to things of any time, not just the past?) – Jason Bassford Aug 7 '18 at 23:30

veneration TFD


  1. A feeling of profound respect or reverence: an object held in veneration.

As in:

Being in the bedroom of a well preserved antebellum home, I felt a profound sense of veneration, as if the original owners could walk in any minute.


I would say it's a kind of awe:

Awe is the feeling of respect and amazement that you have when you are faced with something wonderful and often rather frightening. (the Collins English Dictionary)

Of course, those great objects, industrial buildings and old machinery we are talking about are not frightening. But note that often doesn't mean always. The point is you feel respect and amazement. Here are some examples taken from various dictionaries:

  1. She gazed in awe at the great stones.
  2. His fellow officers regarded him with awe as some sort of genius.
  3. She filled me with a sense of awe.
  4. I've always held musicians in awe.
  5. The scenery was absolutely stunning - I remember gazing in a state of awe over the landscape.

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