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May I have a word: When you sense that you may be forgetting something

In search of a word that captures that familiar nagging feeling.

One writer opined: "That feeling that you are forgetting something is simply called going out to the car.”Adobe Stock/zigres - stock.adobe.com

I imagined I’d wrapped up the previously introduced plural you thing in my next to last column, but a surprising number of readers have been unwilling to let it go. For instance, Laurie Scher, of Boston, wrote, “Youse!!!!??? That makes me cringe.” Connie Soucie, of Natick and South Florida, advised, “I put the group before you, such as both of you or all of you.” And Theresa Folan, of Roslindale, suggested, “What about yee? My husband is from Ireland and he uses this all the time. I think it sounds better than youse.”

On dry-January sober reflection and being a pushover for things European, I find I like yee better than youse, to which I previously awarded bragging rights. My sources tell me it may also be written ye. Theresa, I hereby award you bragging rights, too.


Now let’s move on to finding the word that Rachel Wadsworth has asked for: one to describe “the feeling that you are forgetting something.”

Quite a number of people suggested plays on déjà vu (”already seen”). For instance, Judy Capone, of Sandwich, came up with déjàtodo; Mike Costello, of Berwick, Maine, déjà poof; Paul Spina, of Bridgewater, déjàgetful; Paul Bradley déjà void; Craig Stevens déjà oublié (”already forgotten”); and Deb Weinstein presque vu (”almost seen”). Pardon my French.

Jonathan Wagner, of Peabody, suggested jamais vu French for “never seen” and, thus, the opposite of déjà vu. And so it is, to an extent. Merriam-Webster’s medical dictionary defines jamais vu as “a disorder of memory characterized by the illusion that the familiar is being encountered for the first time.” Wagner heads for the end zone with his term but, in my opinion, falls short of a touchdown.

Other readers offered up “memory”­-related coinages: Nancy Chang, of Easthampton, suggested memonition; Amy Cohen, of Arlington, mismemoring; Kenneth Downes, of Shelburne Falls, prememotion; and Arthur Hamlin, of Stow, dismemoria — and also dismemphobia, which I rule out of bounds because it seems as if it should mean “fear of being dismembered.”


Other readers used “forget” as their starting point — for instance, Joan K. Casey, of Brookline, suggested forgetfeel; Ed Mann, of Framingham, forgetaboutism; and Peggy Brown, of Maynard, fogotten, because, she said, the feeling comes to her when her brain is in “fog mode.”

George J. Vezina, of Norwich, Conn., wrote: “Rachel must’ve forgotten: That feeling that you are forgetting something is simply called going out to the car.” George, I’m awarding you bragging rights for the term that did the best job of making me laugh.

As usual, though, a game-winning play would be a neologism that people who heard it for the first time could understand. The coinage that Bill Falk, of Newton, proposed comes awfully close: ephemory — a portmanteau of ephemeral and memory. Someone might say, for instance, “I was having an ephemory until I got to the car, when I realized what I’d forgotten was my car key.” Congrats, Bill! You get the bragging rights this time.

As for the word you’re invited to coin next: A group of us sitting around the dining table over the holidays realized that these days none of us can bring ourselves to use trump in the sense that was standard for four centuries. Now, for example, a formerly innocent statement like “Love trumps hate” amounts to trolling.


A synonym that doesn’t trigger political associations does not leap to mind. Can you help? Send your ideas to me at Barbara.Wallraff@globe.com by noon on Friday, Jan. 21, and kindly include where you live.

Barbara Wallraff is a writer who lives in Cambridge, Mass., and London.