Etymology: Sonder is a neologism, coined by John Koenig for his online Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. As such it has no evolution to trace. A pleasing folk etymology might be the combination of the verb sound, to “ascertain the depth of water,” and wonder, an “astonishing or marvelous thing.” Many alternatives have been proposed by the dictionary’s devotees. Meaning: Koenig’s definition begins: “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own, ” and expands into a brief but beautiful prose poem, like many entries in his dictionary. He likes to say that sonder is the revelation that you are merely an extra in someone else’s story. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.