am·​ne·​sia | \ am-ˈnē-zhə How to pronounce amnesia (audio) \

Definition of amnesia

1 : loss of memory due usually to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness
2 : a gap in one's memory
3 : the selective overlooking or ignoring of events or acts that are not favorable or useful to one's purpose or position … Americans seemed to develop a willful forgetfulness about the nation's longest military conflict, an amnesia that lasted for nearly a decade.— Alan Brinkley

Other Words from amnesia

amnesiac \ am-​ˈnē-​zhē-​ˌak How to pronounce amnesia (audio) , -​zē-​ \ or amnesic \ am-​ˈnē-​zik How to pronounce amnesia (audio) , -​sik \ adjective or noun

Examples of amnesia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the amnesia of La Movida inadvertently abetted the agenda of Franco’s supporters. New York Times, 13 Dec. 2021 In Hong Kong, some once-outspoken pro-democracy veterans now appear to suffer from sudden political amnesia. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, 20 Oct. 2021 The man began seeing a neuropsychologist, whose job is to help with the anxiety that accompanies post-traumatic amnesia and to provide cognitive rehab to help people regain memory. Max G. Levy, Wired, 21 Oct. 2021 Some, who initially seemed willing to speak to Variety, developed a sudden amnesia when asked whether Chappelle had discussed the Netflix protest during the 60-minute set. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 20 Oct. 2021 In the mainland, the Chinese Communist Party has enforced widespread public amnesia of the 1989 killings, which left hundreds, if not thousands dead. Vivian Wang, New York Times, 4 June 2021 The narrator’s failure to remember initiates, or predicts, the amnesia of the character. David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times, 20 May 2021 In their own way, each of these Black films seeks to address the cultural amnesia that distinguishes white Americans’ understanding of their culture and construction of their past. Jonathan W. Gray, The New Republic, 21 Apr. 2021 Maybe this amnesia was her mind’s way of protecting itself. Mayukh Sen, The Atlantic, 21 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'amnesia.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of amnesia

1772, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for amnesia

borrowed from New Latin amnēsia, borrowed from Greek (Septuagint) amnēsía "forgetfulness," variant of amnēstía — more at amnesty entry 1

Learn More About amnesia

Time Traveler for amnesia

Time Traveler

The first known use of amnesia was in 1772

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near amnesia




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for amnesia

Last Updated

24 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Amnesia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for amnesia



English Language Learners Definition of amnesia

: a condition in which a person is unable to remember things because of brain injury, shock, or illness


am·​ne·​sia | \ am-ˈnē-zhə How to pronounce amnesia (audio) \

Kids Definition of amnesia

: an abnormal and usually complete loss of one's memory


am·​ne·​sia | \ am-ˈnē-zhə How to pronounce amnesia (audio) \

Medical Definition of amnesia

1 : loss of memory sometimes including the memory of personal identity due to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness or sometimes induced by anesthesia a period of amnesia after the wreck
2 : a gap in one's memory an amnesia concerning her high-school years


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!