Word of the Week – Forgetfulness
‘Word of the Week’ is DYT’s weekly partnership with author Tim Glynn-Jones. Each week Tim will choose a word, exploring the history behind its meaning, pulling upon an assortment of wry observations on life as well as revealing some surprising historical facts and amusing home truths. This week: forgetfulness.
|Now, what was I going to write about this week?
Nope, it’s gone.
I had considered a piece on words that sound like two or more other words: words such as ‘faucet’, ‘moron’ and ‘Israelites’. Words like these are among the great gifts of the English language, manna from Heaven for crossword compilers.
A frequent cry in my house is, ‘Anyone seen my khaki?’ If we were living in Utah this might be confusing but Reigate doesn’t have a very large contingent of survivalists, so whenever I hear that cry I know immediately that they’re not referring to battledress but to the small metal object that unlocks the car. Or it would, if only we could find the bloody thing.
Forgetting where you left the car keys is such a common and specific affliction that you would think there’d be a proper medical name for it, wouldn’t you?
Research has shown that people aged 18-34 forget where they put their car keys more often than over-55s do. They’re also twice as likely to forget what day of the week it is! According to the same survey, 15% of people aged 18-34 in the United States can’t remember this simple detail. That’s roughly one in seven, which, as any statistician will confirm, means that between them they are 100 per cent likely to forget the entire week!
The survey concludes with the revelation that two fifths of the American public have mislaid at least one everyday item in the past week.
The paradoxical thing about ‘forgetfulness’ is that it’s a really easy word to remember. Perhaps that’s because it’s one of those lovely long, mellifluous words that has not one suffix but two. Like listlessness, wholesomeness and shoeburyness (the sensation you experience when you forget your wellies while walking by the Thames Estuary).
You can find plenty of tips online for helping to remember where you put things, such as filming yourself on your phone as you put them down. Which is great advice – as long as you can remember where you put your phone.
Word of the Week is a collaboration between DYT and author Tim Glynne-Jones. Word of the Week began as a weekly blog in 2016. A book of the first 52 words in the series – Word of the Week: Volume One – is available to buy at word-of-the-week.com.
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