Toska (Russian)

Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”


  • Posted by peter

    i think it’s bull shit. you’re romantisizing the idea. the english word is toss. as in to toss; toss aside; toss away.nothing romantic there .nothing sexy; por you ; nothing titlelating, oh well, poor you! toska – it’s not grand.it’s small. nothing . so sad . how sad.

  • Posted by Dmitry

    Toska is whatever – may be grand, small, in recent years it even obtained humorous meaning in some context.And romantisized meaning may be also used. So Nabokov is right; it is not only toss or splin.

  • Posted by Conrad

    Nabokov neglected to mention that, in the last century, “toska” has been narrowed, essentially, to convey the confusion and grief associated with not knowing whether a loved one will come back from an internment camp.

  • Posted by Katiusha

    The closest is the french word “ennuie” – but yes, no proper english translation exists.

  • Posted by Foreign Expressions that don’t exist in English | Benvitalis's Blog

    [...] Toska (Russian) Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.” http://betterthanenglish.com/toska-russian/ [...]

  • Posted by FAIZAAN

    Its not bullshit, its kind of a state of mind which i have been experiencing for months and unable to get out of it.
    its like wishing for nothing in life and feels like doing nothing though there is no depression . You could say absence of inspiration, ambition , creativity, . feels like having no feeling of doing anything. no wishes though being a 30 year old have to wish for financioal stability car house marriage travelling a job… feels like wanting nothing a longing feeling

  • Posted by kehnin

    i would probably render toska as melancholy, if someone put a knife to my throat.
    (as a note, i learned russian from immersion so that meaning is just based on the times i heard it used.)

  • Posted by Leo

    Toska reminds me of a similarly hard to translate word in Portugese – Sodade or Saudade

  • Posted by mikimbizii

    Just like Saudade and Fernwah

  • Posted by krum

    It’s not exactly like saudade. Saudade is a longing for the feeling of greatness or merely significance. Toska refers to the feeling of being deprived of something you need but cannot have, and specifically the numbing effect the associated melancholy imposes on daily life.

  • Posted by Fienden och svårigheten med att besegra slutbossen | Maskinskrift

    […] och blir istället en spritindränkt berättelse om skapandets vedermödor, drömmar, vänskap, toska och den ryska […]

  • Posted by francis Toska

    Toska is not what all of you are just saying. You guys are busy formulating a word out of your emotional toughts. The word means the positive way like good luck and success not what you guys are busy saying it is a german word

  • Posted by overoop

    Russian here. I think тоска is mixture of angst and boredom.

  • Posted by overoop

    Or spleen. Pushkin used word spleen by the way.

  • Posted by Pete

    Toska (тоска) can only be approximated in one dialect, as far as I am aware. Every definition of the word matches the Scots – “Scunnererd”. Native Scot and Russki speaker.

  • Posted by Yelena

    I am russian, will try to explain.
    Toska is what you feel when you are deeply depressed. Spleen is different – is more melancholy, when you are sad with no reason but still able to function – do your job, meet people etc. Toska is when you just want to lay down and die. Both things are universal and may be considered romantic if you like (well, you have to deal with it somehow, ask scandinavians about it ;))

  • Posted by EastBayRI.com « Portsmouth rapper thrives on being underestimated

    […] means a bunch of different things,” he said. “It’s a word in Russian that no single word in English directly translates. That really captured my interest. It epitomizes negative emotion; every shade of sadness or even […]

  • Posted by Diane

    I now have the word to explain what I’ve felt for years ever since losing my brother-in-law and brother to cancer. Thank you for sharing this. It gives meaning to my thoughts!

  • Posted by Phil

    As far as I know, toska = sorrow

    Source – Russian born and raised, read/write/speak fluently.

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