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fizzbanger's avatar

Have you heard of "presque vu"?

Asked by fizzbanger (2762points) November 5th, 2011

Just now, I heard this term for the first time, like, ever.

“When you know that you know a word but cannot recall it”.


“The intense feeling of being at the brink of an epiphany. An extremely frustrating experience, since a breakthrough never arrives”.

Do you commonly experience this? What are your methods of attempting a breakthrough?

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6 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I’ve heard of the phrase, but didn’t remember what it meant. I experience it a lot, though! My brain is like Swiss cheese, so there’s a lot of crap in there that I can’t access at any given time. For words I can’t recall, I nearly always remember the letter they start with or part of the word I’m looking for. I start saying similar words, and most of the time, the right one pops up eventually.

For instance, a friend and I were talking about sterilizing things, when I started to say “I wish I had a…”, and my mind went blank. All I could think of was clavicle, and I knew that wasn’t right. I said it anyway, with a disclaimer, and she and I spent about five minutes throwing out similar words, trying to think of the right one: autoclave. And she’s a nurse!

When you finally get it, it’s a huge relief. :)

Luiveton's avatar

Happens to me all the time. I keep on searching my daft thoughts until I get it. Even if it takes hours. Ugh.

JilltheTooth's avatar

It means, literally, “almost seen”. I love the phrase, it happens to me a lot, more since I had chemo. It’s kind of frustrating, but sooooo satisfying if you finally get it!

flutherother's avatar

It happens to me almost on a daily basis and it really annoys me. It is sometimes a word but more often the name of someone I just can’t bring to mind though I know that I know it. I try different ways to recall it and sometimes I know the first letter and the number of syllables but it refuses to appear. Later, when I am thinking of something else it pops up in my mind without any effort.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Yup all the friggin time. Didnt know there was a word for it though. Awesome. Shame I’ll probably forget it when I try and tell someone else about it though.

wundayatta's avatar

In the last few years it’s been happening all the time. More and more, in fact. My memory has suddenly taken a vacation to Tahiti and is refusing to come home. As a result, I have words that I know are there and they are just through that thin veil, but I can’t see them, and for some reason I seem to be tied to this chair and I can’t pull the veil aside.

It is so annoying. I have to go to and start hunting with words I do know (but aren’t right) to find the word I know is there, but I just can’t see it. It is more frustrating that a sticky valve on my trumpet. Or maybe as frustrating. Neck and neck, anyway.

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