Werifesteria: Leonie Bell wrote to ask about this word, which is circulating in social media. It’s said to be Old English, meaning “to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery”. Its popularity suggests that it meets an inchoate spiritual desire for a term to sum up a concept that hasn’t previously been possible to articulate briefly. To be mundane about it, however, the evidence suggests it was created in late 2014 by an unknown person out of thin air. No record of it exists before then and there’s no root in Old English for forests or longing or wandering that matches anything in the word. It’s an intriguing neologism, a minor mystery of its own, and I would love to uncover the process of thought that led the anonymous author to create it.
Michael Quinion in World Wide Words newsletter, October 3rd, 2015
nemophilist, (rare) One who is fond of forests or forest scenery; a haunter of the woods. (As defined a century ago in Webster’s.)
shinrin-yoku (森林浴), (n.) a visit to the forest for relaxation – a chance to stroll through nature and take in the atmosphere for one’s well-being; lit. “forest bathing“. (From Wordstuck.)
Jōmon Sugi in Yakushima, Kagoshima Pref., Japan. Photo by Σ64; Source: Wikipedia Commons
Longing…haunting…wandering…searching. And bathing…. It seems that many of us miss the woods. Sounds, sights and scents to awake in us a way of sensing that feels profoundly right. Heartening, that terms for this are being revived and coined. How about we spend more time out there on foot among our allies, the trees?