Nefelibata – the Cloud Walker


Happy New Year to all of you and Happy Nollaig na mBan (women’s Christmas) to all my female friends here. The old Irish tradition of Women’s Christmas is celebrated on the 6th of January (and features in several of my books). It is the time when women took the day off after the hard work of preparing for Christmas and visited their female friends, leaving the menfolk to cook their own dinners. In theory at least the tasks are more evenly distributed these days, but it’s still a good reminder to celebrate female friendships. I’ll be celebrating later today with hot chocolate, homemade gingerbread, “Anne with an E” on Netflix, and my daughter.

For now, however, I’m back writing after the Christmas break and living in my imagination again which made me think of the word nefelibata. I can’t recall where I found this one, possibly on a pretty online image, but it’s a beautiful word.

Dreamy clouds at sunset, Wexford harbour, Ireland

A nefelibata (pronunciation here) is somebody who lives in their imagination, an unconventional person who doesn’t always obey society’s rules. The word isn’t strictly speaking English, but like deja vu, pizza, and schmuck it’s one which deserves adoption by English-speakers. It is actually Portugese and is compounded from nephele (cloud) and batha (a place to walk) which means its literal translation is cloud-walker, a person who lives in the clouds of their own dreams. As my 2020 writing year begins with planning books, articles, and writing events I think I need to schedule a little cloud-walking too.

Until next time happy reading, writing, wordfooling, and cloudwalking,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

2 thoughts on “Nefelibata – the Cloud Walker

  1. Nikki Weston

    Loved the post Grace, and I may have found my favourite word, isn’t nefelibata fabulous? Thank you for this, happy writing and happy new year!
    P.S. Didn’t realise Anne with an E was on Netflix. Oh dear, the kids will have to feed themselves again while Mammy watches, but it’s Nollaig na mban after all 😉

  2. wordfoolery Post author

    Yes, I love this word. Hopefully I’m not too late to warn you – “Anne with an E” is indeed on Netflix and I think it’s a great adaptation, and an Irish actress in the lead role, but the series was cancelled after season 3 and did leave some storylines hanging much to the annoyance of fans.


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