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[uh-bliv-ee-uh s] /əˈblɪv i əs/
unmindful; unconscious; unaware (usually followed by of or to):
She was oblivious of his admiration.
forgetful; without remembrance or memory:
oblivious of my former failure.
Archaic. inducing forgetfulness.
Origin of oblivious
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin oblīviōsus forgetful, equivalent to oblīvī(scī) to for-get + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
obliviously, adverb
obliviousness, noun
self-oblivious, adjective
semioblivious, adjective
semiobliviously, adverb
semiobliviousness, noun
unoblivious, adjective
unobliviously, adverb
unobliviousness, noun
Can be confused
oblivious, obvious.
Synonym Study
2. See absent-minded. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for obliviousness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some one may say, Why then touch her in this obliviousness of her unfilled possibilities?

    The American Country Girl Martha Foote Crow
  • She felt blank, and excluded, as though they had thrust her out into the obliviousness of the night.

    Narcissus Evelyn Scott
  • He followed them down the walk in a sweating agony of obliviousness, and climbed into the car with carefully normal lack of haste.

    Citadel Algirdas Jonas Budrys
  • She was calm-eyed and well-poised, and Lena hated her for the rest of her life for her obliviousness of the sordid.

    Jewel Weed

    Alice Ames Winter
  • When we remember what women are, the latter instance of obliviousness appears the more probable.

    Much Darker Days Andrew Lang (AKA A. Huge Longway)
  • In that obliviousness, he, amid the tranquil scenes of his childhood, could now indulge without danger.

  • They assumed their leadership, however, with that obliviousness to youth which usually characterizes old age.

    The Boss and the Machine Samuel P. Orth
  • Egypt itself is now become the land of obliviousness, and doteth.

British Dictionary definitions for obliviousness


foll by to or of. unaware or forgetful
Derived Forms
obliviously, adverb
obliviousness, noun
Usage note
It was formerly considered incorrect to use oblivious to mean unaware, but this use is now acceptable
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 obliviousness



mid-15c., from Latin obliviosus "forgetful, that easily forgets; producing forgetfulness," from oblivion (see oblivion). Meaning "unaware, unconscious (of something)" is from 1862, formerly regarded as erroneous, this is now the general meaning and the word has lost its original sense of "no longer aware or mindful." Properly should be used with to, not of. Related: Obliviously; obliviousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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