What’s The Word For When You Can’t Remember A Word?

The word was there a second ago. You were just about to say it. And then poof, it was gone, like a gnat buzzing just out of your reach when you’re about to smack it mid-air. So what the heck is going on. Is there a word to describe what you meant to say when you just can’t remember that word?

Well, yes!

It was right on the tip-of-the-tongue …

Many people will call this short-term memory glitch the tip-of-the-tongue syndrome (or phenomenon). But there are a few other words that might come in handy (if you can remember them).

Lethologica vs. lethonomia

Lethologica is “the inability to remember the right word.” This is the word you can use when you know you’re looking for your left something-or-other that goes on your foot but is not a sock, it’s a … (shoe?).

Lethonomia is “the inability to recall the right name.” This is the word you can use about that actress in the Netflix show who you know you’ve seen in a few movies over the years. You’d tell your friends all about her … if only you could recall her moniker!

Both lethonomia and lethologica derive from the river Lethe in Hades in Greek mythology. The river was thought to cause oblivion or forgetfulness of the past.

Need a few other words? The following options are probably best kept to medical memory issues, but might be useful too. Aphasia is “an impairment of the language function that is caused by brain damage.” Anomia is “a deficit in finding words” and is the most conspicuous feature of aphasia.

Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Dictionary Is More Than The Word Of The Day

Enter your email for quizzes, quotes, and word facts in your inbox every day.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.