noun obliv·i·on \ ə-ˈbli-vē-ən , ō- , ä- \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

Definition of oblivion

1 : the fact or condition of not remembering : a state marked by lack of awareness or consciousness
  • seeking the oblivion of sleep
  • drank herself into oblivion
2 : the condition or state of being forgotten or unknown
  • contentedly accepted his political oblivion
  • … took the Huskers from oblivion to glory — and their two national championships …
  • —D. S. Looney

oblivion was our Word of the Day on 06/21/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of oblivion in a Sentence

  1. The technology is destined for oblivion.

  2. The names of the people who lived here long ago have faded into oblivion.

  3. His theories have faded into scientific oblivion.

  4. Her work was rescued from oblivion when it was rediscovered in the early 1900s.

  5. After being awake for three days straight, he longed for the oblivion of sleep.

  6. She drank herself into oblivion.

  7. The little village was bulldozed into oblivion to make way for the airport.

Recent Examples of oblivion from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Oblivion was derived via Middle English and Anglo-French from Latin oblivisci, which means "to forget." This form may have stemmed from combining ob- ("in the way") and levis ("smooth"). In the past, oblivion has been used in reference to the River Lethe, which according to Greek myth flowed through the Underworld and induced a state of forgetfulness in anyone who drank its water. Among those who have used the word this way is the poet John Milton, who wrote in Paradise Lost, "Farr off from these a slow and silent stream, Lethe the River of Oblivion roules Her watrie Labyrinth."

Origin and Etymology of oblivion

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin oblivion-, oblivio, from oblivisci to forget, perhaps from ob- in the way + levis smooth — more at ob-, levigate

OBLIVION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of oblivion for English Language Learners

  • : the state of something that is not remembered, used, or thought about any more

  • : the state of being unconscious or unaware : the state of not knowing what is going on around you

  • : the state of being destroyed

OBLIVION Defined for Kids


noun obliv·i·on \ ə-ˈbli-vē-ən \

Definition of oblivion for Students

1 : the state of forgetting or having forgotten or of being unaware or unconscious
2 : the state of being forgotten The tradition has drifted into oblivion.

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