Saudade (singular) or saudades (plural) (pronounced [sawˈdadɨ] in European Portuguese, [sawˈdadʒi] or [sawˈdadi] in Brazilian Portuguese and pronounced [sawˈdade] in Galician) is a Portuguese and Galician word for a feeling of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return. Saudade differs from nostalgia in that whereas nostalgia involves a mixed happy and sad feeling for the lost memories, saudade involves the hope that what is being longed for might return. Saudade has been described as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist,… a turning towards the past or towards the future”. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing.
Most people accept that the term originated in a period of Portuguese exploration and discovery and was used to describe the sadness felt for those who embarked on journeys and were subsequently lost in shipwrecks, died in battle, or simply never returned.
It has since grown to be considered a Portuguese way of life, the almost constant gnaw of absence and lacking, the wishful longing for completeness or wholeness and the yearning for the return of that now gone.
In Brazil, saudade took on a slightly different meaning with the arrival of slaves from Africa and immigrants who both longed for their home countries. It was also felt in the sheer vastness of the country itself, which cultivated a sense of loneliness no matter where one chose to live.