The Meaning of Nostalgic: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of nostalgic? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word nostalgic, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word nostalgic mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, the word nostalgic is an adjective that means having an affection toward the past. Nostalgic can also be used as a noun to describe a person who is nostalgic. Nostalgics are people who tend to have positive emotions, happy personal associations or a good mood toward long-gone moments or a wistful memory of times gone by. This important trope is normally not someone who has regret, but nostalgic reflections. 

According to Neuroscience News, psychologists and research have found that nostalgia is a primarily positive emotion that can lift people’s spirits with a positive effect. When participants in a study were asked to recall a past event that makes them feel most nostalgic, they tend to recall  a unique and overly positive, fond memory that brings feelings of warmth and not negative feelings. 

The noun form of nostalgic is the word nostalgia. Nostalgic is three syllables – nos-tal-gic, and the pronunciation of nostalgic is nɒˈstældʒɪk. 

The word nostalgic is also present in many different languages to mean looking back on the past with fondness. You may notice that many of these words look and sound similar to the word nostalgic, or are even cognates for the word nostalgic. This is because these words have common origins in Greek. Many languages have their roots in Greek. Therefore, words of Greek origin will often be similar between languages. THis list of translations for the word nostalgic is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Finnish: nostalginen‎
  •  Galician: nostálxico‎
  •  Nynorsk: nostalgisk‎
  •  Japanese: 懐かしい‎ (なつかしい, natsukashii)
  •  Greek: νοσταλγικός‎
  •  French: nostalgique‎
  •  Spanish: nostálgico‎
  •  Romanian: nostalgic‎
  •  Russian: ностальги́ческий‎
  •  Yiddish: נאָסטאַלגיש‎
  •  German: nostalgisch‎
  •  Swedish: nostalgisk‎
  •  Hungarian: nosztalgikus‎
  •  Polish: nostalgiczny‎
  •  Portuguese: nostálgico‎
  •  Czech: nostalgický‎
  •  Catalan: nostàlgic‎
  •  Bokmål: nostalgisk‎

What is the origin of the word nostalgic?

According to Educalingo, the 17th century word nostalgic is the formation of a Greek compound, consisting of the Greek νόστος, which means homecoming, and ἄλγος, a Greek word meaning pain or ache. This Homeric word has been used since the early modern period.

How can the word nostalgic be used in a sentence?

There are many different ways that a person can use the word nostalgic in a sentence. Using words in the sentence is a great way to memorize their definition. You could also try making flashcards or quizzes for yourself. Below are several examples of nostalgic to help get you started using this word of the day in a sentence. 

As she looked back at her old social media, her self-esteem was crushed. She had a nostalgic soft spot for who she was before her medical condition and was grateful for the military physicians for taking care of her, but she wishes she could go back to the old her.

Rebecca found many nostalgic things in her attic, including her journal from Princeton University. It had a great deal of material and very interesting themes.

When Ned Vince found a stereo buried in his closets, it made him feel a sense of weirdness, a nostalgic panic with a violent effect.

I think back on my younger years with romanticism, especially my nostalgic time spent in parts of the West.

The metal stamp had nostalgic designs and useful gimmicks that made it more special than run-of-the-mill cardboard versions.

The idea of nostalgic comfort foods made Kennon the medical student feel a deep sense of homesickness and anxieties.

The speaker’s childhood was filled with nostalgic snow scenes and Christmas cards. He had the audience fill out a questionnaire of things they are nostalgic for from childhood.

What are synonyms and antonyms of nostalgic?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word nostalgic. These are known as synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you want to expand your vocabulary or if you want to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word nostalgic is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  evocative
  •  elegiac
  •  yearning
  •  sloppy
  •  mournful
  •  doleful
  •  misty
  •  namby-pamby
  •  sentimentality
  •  unhappy
  •  sentimental
  •  pining for the past
  •  retro
  •  soft
  •  longing to be home
  •  poignant
  •  drippy
  •  sorrowful
  •  yearning for the past
  •  longing for home
  •  schmaltzy
  •  emotional
  •  longing for the past
  •  disconsolate
  •  miserable
  •  sappy
  •  misty-eyed
  •  wistful
  •  homesick
  •  regretful
  •  dewy-eyed
  •  tear-jerking
  •  mushy
  •  longingly remembering down memory
  •  mawkish
  •  languishing
  •  retrospective
  •  bathetic
  •  pining
  •  romantic
  •  like yesterday
  •  maudlin
  •  pensive
  •  longing
  •  emotional about the past
  •  wishful
  •  reminiscent
  •  elegiacal
  •  lonesome
  •  melancholy
  •  pathetic

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word nostalgic. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are words and phrases that have the opposite definition of another word or phrase and are useful to know if you want to expand your knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word nostalgic is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  forward-looking
  •  cautious
  •  far-sighted
  •  antisentimental
  •  airy
  •  remiss about
  •  keen
  •  with a memory like a sieve
  •  unsentimental
  •  ahead of time
  •  remiss in
  •  forethoughtful
  •  absent-minded
  •  forward-thinking
  •  hopeful
  •  futuristic
  •  hard-edged
  •  onward
  •  unmindful
  •  accelerating
  •  longheaded
  •  provided
  •  abstracted
  •  scatterbrained
  •  long-headed
  •  undesirous
  •  endeavoring
  •  aggressive
  •  encouraging
  •  energetic
  •  foreseeing
  •  prudent
  •  long-sighted
  •  cynical
  •  slipshod
  •  eager
  •  hard-boiled
  •  determined
  •  hardheaded
  •  absentminded
  •  forward
  •  solicitous
  •  oblivious to
  •  vague
  •  aspiring
  •  with a mind like a sieve
  •  far-seeing
  •  progressive
  •  wanderthirst
  •  slapdash

Overall, the word nostalgic (adj.) means looking back on the past with fondness. Sometimes nostalgia is sad or bittersweet, but this is mostly a happy emotion.


  1. What triggers nostalgia? Feelings of unhappiness | Neuroscience News 
  2. NOSTALGIC – Definition and synonyms of nostalgic in the English dictionary | Educalingo 
  3. Nostalgic synonyms – 415 Words and Phrases for Nostalgic | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Nostalgic antonyms – 107 Opposites of Nostalgic | Power Thesaurus 
  5. nostalgic: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  6. Nostalgic definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary