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What Is The Meaning Of Nostalgia?

Posted in American Culture, Vocabulary on March 28 by AJ

What Is The Meaning Of Nostalgia?

The word “nostalgia” describes a feeling of longing for the past. The feeling is both bitter – because the past cannot be retrieved – and sweet – because the feeling is triggered by warm, affectionate memories.


The word is formed from two Greek words: nostos, which means “return home,” and algos, which means “pain” or “longing.” The word has an interesting story; it was originally coined in 1668 as a medical diagnosis for Swiss soldiers who were far from home and suffering from depression. It was based on the German word for homesickness, Heimweh, and it was considered a serious diagnosis that could even be fatal. According to a report published in 1867, 13 Northern soldiers died of nostalgia in the first two years of the American Civil War. The modern meaning of the word was first used in 1920.

Benefits Of Nostalgia

Nostalgia is no longer considered a disease; it is actually thought to have several benefits. People who feel nostalgic about the past are comforted by happy memories, and it reminds them of people they love, reinforcing feelings of social connectedness. According to psychologists, the experience of nostalgia can comfort people who are in distress and increase their self-esteem.

Nostalgia In Literature

One of the most famous examples of nostalgia in literature is the French novel In Search Of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. In the novel, the main character is eating a madeleine, a type of cake, dipped in tea. The taste of the cake brings back a memory of his childhood, when he ate the same treat in the home of his aunt. The first memory triggered a flood of recollections of his childhood home and the town where he lived.

Nostalgia In TV

Some TV programs are set in the past because they evoke nostalgia in viewers. The show Mad Men, for example, may bring on feelings of nostalgia for the fashions and décor of the 1960s. A more recent Netflix show, Stranger Things, is set in the early 1980s. Many of its fans are middle-aged viewers who enjoy feeling nostalgia for their own school days.

Examples Of Sentences That Use “Nostalgia” or “Nostalgic”

Another form of the word “nostalgia” is “nostalgic,” which is an adjective.

1. When James watched old Pokemon episodes on YouTube, he felt nostalgic for his childhood.

2. Sometimes an old song can trigger feelings of nostalgia.

3. Anna looked through her high school photo album, feeling nostalgic for her school days.

4. Advertisers sometimes use nostalgia as a marketing strategy. An iPhone ad, for example, featured Cookie Monster, a character from a children’s TV show that has been running since 1969.

5. Students who leave home to attend university often feel nostalgic for their mother’s cooking.

6. The house Andy grew up in was small, and it always needed repairs. But now when he remembers the house, he is overcome with nostalgia.

7. Some Republican voters feel nostalgic for America of the 1950s, feeling the country was greater in those days.

8. The holidays evoke feelings of nostalgia. Every Christmas, for example, brings back memories of Christmases in the past.

9. French author Albert Camus famously said, “Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.”

10. Journalist Doug Larson described nostalgia as “a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.”

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