am·​ne·​sia | \am-ˈnē-zhə \

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

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Other Words from amnesia

amnesiac \-​zhē-​ˌak, -​zē-​ \ or amnesic \-​zik, -​sik \ adjective or noun

Examples of amnesia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The collective amnesia in the administration and Congress is astounding. Ryan Tracy, WSJ, "Fed Rethinks How to Define a Big Bank," 2 Oct. 2018 Blair apparently has amnesia because for the second time in her short life she's being duped by a royal posing as a commoner. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Every Single Episode of Gossip Girl, Ranked," 19 Sep. 2018 In 1926 Archie left Christie for another woman, and Christie’s sudden disappearance following this rupture (afterward attributed to amnesia) is the fulcrum of Ms. Thompson’s book. Anna Mundow, WSJ, "‘Agatha Christie’ Review: The Queen of the Cozy," 2 Mar. 2018 To ignore this border reality is to suffer from historical amnesia. Peter Andreas, Washington Post, "Breaking border laws is as American as it gets," 3 July 2018 In actual fact, Chandler seems to regularly suffer from amnesia. Harper's BAZAAR, "11 'Friends' Plot Holes Fans Are Still Obsessing About," 22 Apr. 2017 To understand the extent of Garland’s amnesia, investigators have also interviewed neurologists who consult with the National Football League and the Defense Department. Nick Miroff, Washington Post, "Border Patrol agent died in fall, according to memo contradicting Trump’s claim of attack," 7 Feb. 2018 In fairytales, food is often the drug that leads protagonists to getting lost, if not to total amnesia. Frances Leech, Longreads, "Forgetting the Madeleine," 3 May 2018 For example, one of my favorite roses is called amnesia. Roxanne Washington,, "Former White House Chief Floral Designer Laura Dowling appearing at Akron Home & Flower Show (photos)," 21 Feb. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of amnesia

1772, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for amnesia

New Latin, from Greek amnēsia forgetfulness, alteration of amnēstia

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Dictionary Entries near amnesia

ammunition scuttle







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Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for amnesia

The first known use of amnesia was in 1772

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More Definitions for amnesia



English Language Learners Definition of amnesia

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


am·​ne·​sia | \am-ˈnē-zhə \

Kids Definition of amnesia

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


am·​ne·​sia | \am-ˈnē-zhə \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on amnesia

Spanish Central: Translation of amnesia

Nglish: Translation of amnesia for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of amnesia for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about amnesia

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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