The meaning of the Romanian word ‘ Dor’, according to four Transylvanian women.

In most languages and cultures there are words  that are  difficult to translate to other languages.  We get close with a translation, but never precise. This has to do with many things. A word and a concept has history,  feelings and memories. Words also evolve in a social, political and cultural context.

I put the Romanian word ‘ dor ‘ in this category of words. I instantly fell in love with this word, as I first experienced it as something that has to do with a deep, profound  longing. I was thinking of my longing to Romania as a constant ‘dor’. The more I learned about the word, the wider I realized it’s meaning. I don’t know either, perhaps I can never fully understand it ?

I asked four inspirational, Transylvanian women about their conception of the word ‘ dor’. Here is what they say.

Meet :

Alina Zara-Prunean  from Mandra Chic and Tara Fagarasului.

Ana Borca from IIA Calatoare.

Elena Daniela ‘Dana’ Graura, from Casa Terra and Tara Fagarasului.

Natalia Corlean, from the Parish of Bucium and the Cultural Centre of Bucium ( 2015. 2017 : Fagaras ).

Alina Zara-Prunean


DORul meu

Longing/DOR is the sum of all our nice memories, which will never come back! In the same time, paradoxically  it is the mixture that make all the past things forever gone, to come back. One way or another!

When I was tired, unbalanced, when I was shivering of cold or being afraid, when I was bending on my knees, laying my head on my Grandma’s lap. That was dor. Her hands smelling like basil and they  were caressing me, until the peace was comforting my soul.Last year, in  the beginning of March, Alin, my DEAR husband, brought me a big ‘tulnic’, from Apuseni Mountains, tied with white and read rope. So that I can send my stories worldwide with it, swinging it , and with a good sense of echo,  telling my stories like they were once told. I felt then, such a strong emotion that I have tied the spring and the ‘Martisor’ to it, to my dear Alin. Forever!

In the stairs of a block of flats  in  Bucharest, I ran a whole summer in slippers with high heels, 5 times bigger than my normal size. I was a child. At the first floor, from the doorjamb, my aunt Nuti and my uncle Gicu were looking at me, and at  the 4th floor my friend Laura was waiting for me!

On a Sunday, not long time ago, at the Liturgy, an angel come down from an icon to me, singing a ‘never heard song’, that was bringing a light vibration. The light… that we all yearn.

When we were kids,  my sister and I , received,  as a Christmas gift the  most beautiful dolls in the world. They were red and fluffy, with long feet. So long that they both left abroad and we couldn’t join  them.

My dad waiting for me at the gate,  at home.

Once when I was on the back hill of our garden in Mândra, a rainbow butterfly set on my right shoulder. A butterfly like I never saw and I will never ever see again.

Tulnic – musical instrument. Alpine Horn

Martisor – Romanian symbol

Ana Borca

When you asked me about the meaning of DOR, I felt butterflies in my stocmach, and this happens  whenever I  have DOR in my heart. For me, DOR has two dimensions: it refers to people and to places.  To translate this word  I would say it is like missing someone or something, missing people, missing the way they make you feel or the way you feel around them and then missing places, the way I feel when I am in these places.

I asked people around what  DOR is for them, and the answers differ so much.

Some see it as a pleasure, some as a power that moves the universe and some like an impulse to make you  fiind new experiences or people.

For me, DOR is a pain…a pain in my heart…a strong desire to re-see someone and something, but all in all, a big hole in my heart that needs to be filled. I mostly feel DOR  when it comes to  places, places where I find myself, where I feel the connection with nature. Places that remind me to think more about myself and to put silence in my storm of thoughts.

Because I like to travel a lot, I have this DOR all the time…DOR for travelling.


Elena Daniela ‘Dana’ Graura

Anyone who has been away from home, in other countries or continents can feel dor. It occurs when he is  tired of the big cities and tired of worries  that take over him. Dor also occurs  especially when he is being stung by hunger and he will have only one thought which   will invade his mind and spirit : DORUL – with the meaning of homesickness.



This DOR will take his thoughts where he used to feel best. He will be missing his grandmother and her constant worries of “what shall I cook you” or “I’ve made your favourite dish”.  Everything used to have such  great taste, taste which nothing can measure up to nowadays.

There is such a profound memory of taste that anything we may eat, however interesting and provocative in taste it may be, will be subject of comparison to the flavour, the aromas and the emotion that our grandmother used to create.


Natalia Corlean

DOR is indeed a Romanian word and you need all the Romanian spirituality to define it.




For me, DOR is a mark of unconditional love – a love that melts my rationality and makes me “think” with my heart.




DOR fills my heart with grace.




DOR is profound communion. It’s a communion with the ones I love – alive or passed away.




DOR has no physical limits, the bounds are eternal.




DOR  also means longing for my roots, for my land, for my people and for my country: a desire to be all as one,  in love,  strength, and peace.




DOR is feeling the spiritual world.




So, for me, DOR = eternal love, beauty, grace, faith, light, sky, blessing, bound, freedom, strength and communion.




DOR is endless.




Doamna preoteasa si copiii de la Centru cultural Zestrea  Buciumului
Giorgia Ganea 1
me and fr Marius-1


18 thoughts on “The meaning of the Romanian word ‘ Dor’, according to four Transylvanian women.

  1. I have asked my learned Romanian friends who has studied languages, about the word “Dor”.
    Apparently, she said it comes from the original Roman language, Latin, which was the main language used in the Romanian area for centuries.
    Also, it occurs in English, in the word “A-dor-able”.
    That English word has the same meanings as all the good ladies above have said. Love, longing, desire, wishes, which relates to both humans and possessions.

      1. Peter, how is a-dor-able the same with love, longing, desire? Puppies are adorable but that doesn’t have anything to do with this article. Being a three letter word makes it easy for anyone to find these three letters in other words and say it was ‘borrowed’ . Actually the Romanian language (descendant of the Dacian language) pre-dates latin and the roman empire. For more details here: and here (min 45) Also Romania’s territory today is where the earliest known form of writing was discovered even though still disputed by archeologists (no surprise as they would have to change all the text books out there and any new discovery takes time to be absorbed into mainstream science): .

      2. To @alex0067: Romanian was surely influenced by the Proto-Indo-European language of Dacian, but the majority of its structure and lexicon are derived from Latin. All Latin-based languages have influences from the native languages of the lands that were conquered as well as other languages that made contact in those areas. That is why we now have Spanish, French, Portuguese, Cátalan, etc. These were all derived from the colloquial Roman language known as “Vulgar Latin,” not classical Latin, and the local languages that were already there. Subsequent waves of invasions and cultural exchange created more defining characteristics. for example, French had Frankish (Germanic) language influence; Spanish (and Portuguese) had some Celtic and Visigothic (Germanic) influence and a great deal of Arabic influence.

  2. The word “adorable” though doesn’t have the meaning to miss something which is the most important meaning of “dor”. “Dor” is more like missing home, missing people, good times from the past.

  3. well is the hardest and the difficult word in the whole world,i do feel “dor”each day when i close my eyes,each another second and well “dor” for me is meaning aching,aching for my village,my street even that frocks form the street i miss them,miss my noises neighbors.miss the bells from my church,miss that bread miss all,also in one day ill made of those to be so proud of me,and all this pain it worth it inn the end

  4. This is LOVE and SOUL and LONGING: something profoundly mysterious and who, but the Poet can say it better:
    “Eu nu mă-ntreb de unde vine, vine
    De unde doru-şi ia izvorul, dorul
    Mă luminez şi-mi pare bine, bine
    Când vine dorul, când dorul vine..”

  5. Stumbled upon this blog topic one year too late, but anyway here’s my 2c…
    from all the languages I am familiar with, the meaning of the Afro-American getting/having the “blues” is the closest to what we Romanian expats feel when we experience “dor”. IMO, theirs is more love/carnal/people centered, whilst ours is related to the matrix we came into and left behind… the “Deal-Vale”, Mioritic space matrix L. Blaga wrote about, with people included of course in the fabric of this deep longing.
    Problem is, it’s really only in our hearts and minds, as those people and places are only left untouched in our memories.

      1. Dor, the portuguese word, means pain.
        According to what I read and talked to romanian friends, the portuguese ‘saudade’ is the equivalent of romanian ‘dor’. Both very beautiful and even complex words.

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