View synonyms for perseveration


[ per-sev-uh-rey-shuhn ]


  1. the act or process of perseverating.
  2. Psychiatry. the pathological, persistent repetition of a word, gesture, or act, often associated with brain damage or schizophrenia.


/ pɜːˌsɛvəˈreɪʃən /


  1. the tendency for an impression, idea, or feeling to dissipate only slowly and to recur during subsequent experiences
  2. an inability to change one's method of working when transferred from one task to another

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Word History and Origins

Origin of perseveration1

1605–15 in sense “perseverance”; persevere + -ation, or < Latin perseverātiōn-, stem of persevērātiō

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Example Sentences

Realize that the perseveration is a natural human inclination, and that it will subside.

This again makes it a case of perseveration of the sort stressed by Meringer, but of a longer duration.

It is therefore really to be designated as perseveration, but not necessarily as the perseveration of spoken words.

She showed such perseveration in many constrained positions.

Stereotypy and perseveration are other evidences of this narrowness of thought content.

In the foreground stands a strong tendency to perseveration.


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More About Perseveration

What does perseveration mean?

Perseveration is the act of repeating something, such as words or actions, over and over again.

Perseveration is used both in a general sense and in the more specific contexts of psychology and speech pathology. In this sense, the act of perseveration is the persistent repetition of a word, gesture, or act. This can be the result of a brain injury or a condition like schizophrenia.

The verb form or perseveration is perseverate.

Example: I’m frustrated by the amount of perseveration it takes just to get the students to follow simple rules.

Where did perseveration come from?

The first records of perseveration come from the 1500s, but it didn’t come to be synonymous with repetition until the 1900s. The term originally meant “resolve” or “determination” and comes from the Latin persevērātiōn-, meaning “perseverance” (which has related roots). The verb perseverate is a back formation of perseveration (which means perseveration came first and part of it was chopped off to make perseverate).

The psychological sense of perseveration is based on a translation of the German term perseverationstendenz. That word was used by German researchers to describe a condition in which a patient obsessively repeats words or actions, such as by zipping a zipper continuously or repeatedly asking the same question despite receiving an answer. This is often caused by a brain injury or by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, aphasia, schizophrenia, or Parkinson’s disease.

In the context of psychology, perseveration can also be used in a few other specific ways. It can refer to the tendency for an idea or feeling to lessen slowly and to recur during subsequent experiences. It can also refer to the inability to change one’s method of working when transferred from one task to another.

More generally, perseveration is the repetition of something to an excessive or nearly excessive degree, like when you have to keep telling your roommates to stop putting the cereal box back empty.

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What are some other forms related to perseveration?

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What are some words that often get used in discussing perseveration?


What are some words perseveration may be commonly confused with?

How is perseveration used in real life?

Perseveration is used by medical professionals such as speech pathologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists to describe a specific kind of repetitive behavior. More generally, it’s used as a fancy way of saying that someone keeps saying the same thing over and over, but this use is fairly uncommon.




Try using perseveration!

Is perseverate used correctly in the following sentence?

The patient has been observed repeating certain gestures, and this perseveration is thought to be a symptom of the brain injury.