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[am-nee-zhuh] /æmˈni ʒə/
loss of a large block of interrelated memories; complete or partial loss of memory caused by brain injury, shock, etc.
Origin of amnesia
1780-90; < New Latin < Greek amnēsía, variant of amnēstía oblivion; perhaps learnedly formed from mnē-, stem of mimnḗskesthai to remember (cf. mnemonic) + -s- + -ia -ia. See amnesty
Related forms
[am-nes-tik] /æmˈnɛs tɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for amnesia
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You seem remarkably clear in your mind to be afflicted with amnesia.

    The White Desert

    Courtney Ryley Cooper
  • This is the breaking point, the moment when amnesia intervenes.

    When Winter Comes to Main Street

    Grant Martin Overton
  • Some kind of hysteria and amnesia hit you while we were there.

    The Memory of Mars Raymond F. Jones
  • In a lesser degree, amnesia only affects limited periods of life.

  • What idiosyncracies of the narrator were concomitant products of amnesia?

    Ulysses James Joyce
British Dictionary definitions for amnesia


/æmˈniːzjə; -ʒjə; -zɪə/
a defect in memory, esp one resulting from pathological cause, such as brain damage or hysteria
Derived Forms
amnesiac (æmˈniːzɪˌæk), amnesic (æmˈniːsɪk; -zɪk) adjective, noun
Word Origin
C19: via New Latin from Greek: forgetfulness, probably from amnēstia oblivion; see amnesty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for amnesia

"loss of memory," 1786 (as a Greek word in English from 1670s), Modern Latin, coined from Greek amnesia "forgetfulness," from a-, privative prefix, "not" (see a- (3)) + mimneskesthai "to recall, cause to remember," a reduplicated form related to Greek mnemnon "mindful," mneme "memory," mnasthai "to remember;" from PIE root *men- "to think, remember" (see mind (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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amnesia in Medicine

amnesia am·ne·sia (ām-nē'zhə)
The loss or impairment of memory.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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amnesia in Science
Partial or total loss of memory, usually caused by brain injury or shock.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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amnesia in Culture
amnesia [(am-nee-zhuh)]

A loss of memory, especially one brought on by some distressing or shocking experience.

Note: A common variant is selective amnesia; the term is applied to public officials who, when questioned about alleged wrongdoing, profess that they cannot remember.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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