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Angst means fear or anxiety (anguish is its Latinate equivalent, and anxious, anxiety are of similar origin). The word angst was introduced into English from the Danish, Norwegian and Dutch word angst and the German word Angst. It is attested since the 19th century in English translations of the works of Kierkegaard and Freud. It is used in English to describe an intense feeling of apprehension, anxiety, or inner turmoil.
In German, the technical terminology of psychology and philosophy distinguishes between Angst and Furcht in that Furcht is a negative anticipation regarding a concrete threat, while Angst is a non-directional and unmotivated emotion. In common language, however, Angst is the normal word for “fear”, while Furcht is an elevated synonym.
In other languages having the meaning of the Latin word pavor for “fear”, the derived words differ in meaning, e.g. as in the French anxiété and peur. The word Angst has existed since the 8th century, from the Proto-Indo-European root*anghu-, “restraint” from which Old High German angust developed. It is pre-cognate with the Latin angustia, “tensity, tightness” and angor, “choking, clogging”; compare to the Ancient Greek ἄγχω (ankho) “strangle”.
I am one who counts myself a part of Generation X. As such, perhaps I have had a generational predisposition toward “Angst”. In so many of the cultural endeavours & thoughts of my generation – not to mention the Philosophies I studied at University – this idea of “Angst” has predominated. From the Grunge music I listened to, to the philosophical ideas of the Existentialists – this idea coursed through my final years of formal education.
So am I filled with Angst?