Before sisu, there was sisucunda

You might have heard of sisu, the Finnish concept of grittiness and perseverance in the midst of struggle. I was pleased to learn of its own etymological history:

The history of the concept may help us understand its continuing resonance in Finnish culture today. The word originates from ‘sisus’, which literally means ‘guts’ or ‘the intestines’ in Finnish. In 1745, Daniel Juslenius, a Finnish bishop, defined ‘sisucunda’ in his dictionary as the location in the human body where strong emotions come from.

“With Lutheran philosophy this word came to denote more of a bad quality, that you are somebody really bad at taking orders, a misfit,” says Lahti. But the idea of sisu came to be embraced by Finnish intellectuals as a particularly Finnish quality during the period the new nation was built. Finland became independent from Russia in 1917, and sisu can be seen as a ‘social glue’ that helped define the nation.

Sisu certainly came in handy for the Finns during the Winter War. And you gotta love when people just make up their own words (in their own dictionary!) that then inspire more words of their own.