nostalgia

noun

nos·​tal·​gia nä-ˈstal-jə How to pronounce nostalgia (audio)
nə-,
 also  nȯ-,
nō-;
nə-ˈstäl-
1
: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition
also : something that evokes nostalgia
2
: the state of being homesick : homesickness
nostalgist
nä-ˈstal-jist How to pronounce nostalgia (audio)
nə-
 also  nȯ-
nō-;
nə-ˈstäl-
noun

Example Sentences

To dwell even fitfully on the past, for James, was to risk crippling nostalgia; the past was the shadow side of will and therefore must be rejected. Jackson Lears, Nation, 26 Feb. 2007 My own feelings were that since I'd jettisoned employment, marriage, nostalgia and swampy regret, I was now rightfully a man aquiver with possibility and purpose … Richard Ford, Independence Day, 1995 … the script is written in advance, around the uplifting themes of our civic religion: reconciliation, patriotism, self-sacrifice, the bond of leader and little guy, nostalgia for what is inevitably called "a simpler time." Katha Pollitt, Nation, 22 May 1995 Nevertheless, if one understands the nostalgia for war which marked these years of his break with America, it still remains a nostalgia that is empyreal and histrionic. Only once in his career did MacArthur lead as small a body of men as a company—one somehow feels that the idea of MacArthur, even as a boy, in command of anything less than a division verges on the ludicrous … William Styron, "MacArthur," 8 Oct. 1964, in This Quiet Dust and Other Writings1982 A wave of nostalgia swept over me when I saw my childhood home. He was filled with nostalgia for his college days. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Their store is a bright spot of promise and nostalgia in a life that can be sad. Alisha Haridasani Gupta Daniel Salmieri, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2022 Food continues to be a source of comfort, creativity, nostalgia and education, and 2022 brought about some stellar writing on the topic. Devorah Lev-tov, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Nov. 2022 Hoteliers across America uniquely capture the character, history, nostalgia and charm of their hometowns. Jennifer Maas, Variety, 21 Nov. 2022 There's plenty of starry-eyed nostalgia, but the film doesn't shy away from the Mouse's uglier side, from racist imagery in old 'toons to Mickey as a catch-all symbol for consumerism. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 18 Nov. 2022 There are beach scenes, interiors, alluring women, grizzled old men, nostalgia, glamour, disgust and vertigo as Mr. Posner struggles to establish himself. William Meyers, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2022 The uniqueness and personalization that came with creating her own aroma laid the foundation for all that her fragrance brand is rooted in: nostalgia. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 15 Nov. 2022 The enclosed multilevel mall now signals a bygone era and inspires a sense of vintage nostalgia. Angella Choe, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2022 In tough economic times, in other words, nostalgia sells. Bychloe Berger, Fortune, 13 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nostalgia.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from New Latin, from Greek nóstos "return, homecoming" (nominal derivative, with o-ablaut and the suffix -to-, from the base of néomai, neîsthai "to come/go [home, back], return") + -o- -o- + -algia -algia; néomai going back to the Indo-European verbal base *nes- "escape danger, return safely," whence also Germanic *nesan- "to be saved, return safely" (whence Old English nesan, genesan "to be saved, survive" [strong verb class V], Old Saxon ginesan "to be saved, convalesce," Old High German, "to recover, be saved," Gothic ganisan "to be saved"), Sanskrit násate "approaches, resorts to someone, joins"; from a causative stem *nos-éi̯e- Germanic *nazjan-, whence Old English nerian "to save, preserve," Old Frisian nera "to save, nourish, Old Saxon nerian "to rescue, redeem, nourish," Old High German nerien, nerren "to nourish, support, save, heal," Gothic nasjan "to save, heal"; and from lengthened grade *nōzjan- Old Icelandic nœra "to refresh, nourish"

Note: The Latin word nostalgia was coined by the physician Johannes Hofer (1669-1752), a native of Mühlhausen/Mulhouse in Alsace, in his doctoral thesis Dissertatio medica de ΝΟΣΤΑΛΓΙΑ, oder Heimwehe (Basel, 1688), as a calque of the German word Heimweh. — Also assigned to the Indo-European verbal base *nes- by some are Tocharian A nasam, B nesau "(I) am," though Douglas Adams (A Dictionary of Tocharian B, Revised and Enlarged, Rodopi, 2013, s.v.) proposes a more attractive solution.

First Known Use

1729, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of nostalgia was in 1729

Dictionary Entries Near nostalgia

Cite this Entry

“Nostalgia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nostalgia. Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

nostalgia

noun

nos·​tal·​gia nä-ˈstal-jə How to pronounce nostalgia (audio)
nə-
: a longing for something past
nostalgic adjective
nostalgically adverb

Medical Definition

nostalgia

noun

1
: the state of being homesick
2
: a wistful or excessively sentimental sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition
nostalgic adjective
nostalgically adverb

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