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Kaitlin Robbs, an English teacher, created a “vocabulary wheel” to help find the exact word to describe your feelings. Starting with a base of six words—fear, anger, disgust, sad, happy, and surprise—she included words such as “confused,” “bored,” “hesitant,” and “amused.” A total of 114 different emotions are included on the wheel.

She should have just used emojis.

If a friend ever texted you a joke, did you smile? Laugh? Laugh hard? Laugh so hard that you were crying? Maybe you got confused because you didn’t understand it, or were startled by...

Emotions and feelings are complicated things, and English—robust as it is—sometimes falls short in accurately describing them. Fortunately, English has no issues with stealing words from other languages. The best-known of these is probably “schadenfreude,” a German word that means “taking pleasure in another’s misfortune.” And you know that feeling when someone makes a joke at your expense and it’s only days later that you think of the perfect comeback? Instead of using those twenty-two words, say that it’s “l'esprit de l'escalier,” French for “the spirit of the staircase.”

Sometimes we...