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 formsam·nes·tic [am-nes-tik] /æmˈnɛs tɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for amnesia

stupor, blackout, fugue

Examples from the Web for amnesia

Contemporary Examples of amnesia

Historical Examples of amnesia

  • 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.

  • 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?


    James Joyce

British Dictionary definitions for amnesia



a defect in memory, esp one resulting from pathological cause, such as brain damage or hysteria
Derived Formsamnesiac (æmˈniːzɪˌæk) or amnesic (æmˈniːsɪk, -zɪk), adjective, noun

Word Origin for amnesia

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

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

amnesia in Medicine




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.

amnesia in Science



Partial or total loss of memory, usually caused by brain injury or shock.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

amnesia in Culture



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


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.