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 45 The Whole Story The power of cradle-to-grave novels. Arts & Culture City Guide The Standard, High Line Setting a high standard in the Lower West Side. Arts & Culture Food Issue 46 At Work With: Deb Perelman The little blog that could: An interview with Smitten Kitchen’s unflappable founder. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Word: Wintering When to withdraw from the world. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Brock Colyar An interview with a professional partygoer. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Studio Visit: Yoko Kubrick In the studio with a sculptor of monuments and mythologies.