What is the meaning of the word 'dolonia' according to TikTok?

Bruno Cooke January 23, 2022
What is the meaning of the word 'dolonia' according to TikTok?


The word “dolonia” has been trending on social media since a TikTok video purported to explain its meaning – something along the lines of philophobia. What is the supposed meaning of “dolonia”, and is it actually a real word?

Is ‘dolonia’ a real word?

Collins Dictionary has no entry for the word “dolonia”, nor does Merriam-Webster.

Both websites autocorrect the word to “colonia”, which refers to an unincorporated settlement the US, usually near the Mexican border, “that typically has poor services and squalid conditions” (per MW).

But social media users are evidently finding comfort in a popular though unofficial meaning ascribed to the word “dolonia”.

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Its definition is comparable to the meaning of the word “philophobia”, or the fear of falling in love, although there are differences between the two.

What is the meaning of the word ‘dolonia’ according to TikTok?

TikToker @ewistone, or Eli Stone, takes words he deems “beautiful”, and that “describe obscure emotions”.

In his entry on the word “dolonia”, he ascribes to it the following meaning: “The fear when people genuinely like you [and] you can’t fathom why”.

It continues: “Wondering if they have you confused for someone you believe they deserve, someone who doesn’t have the qualities you hate the most about yourself.”

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The definition has taken hold. His video has been viewed over 3 million times, and liked almost 900K times. It has spread to Twitter, where several people have said they suffer from it, or otherwise relate to it.

Where does the supposed meaning of the word come from?

While it may not appear in conventional dictionaries, the meaning of the word “dolonia” that has circulated so much on social media over the last couple of days does have a legitimate etymology.

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The British English word “dolour” (American English: “dolor”) means “physical pain, agony, suffering” – per Wiktionary. It has cognates in Old and modern French (dolour; douleur), Latin (dolor) and, ultimately, Proto-Indo-European (*delh, meaning “to divide, split”).

And who decides whether or not a word’s meaning is legitimate? In October 2021 alone, Merriam-Webster added 455 words to its dictionary, including “super-spreader”, “teraflop” and “faux-hawk”. It may well contain an entry on the word “dolonia” in the near future.

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.