obliv·​i·​ous ə-ˈbli-vē-əs How to pronounce oblivious (audio)
: lacking remembrance, memory, or mindful attention
: lacking active conscious knowledge or awareness
usually used with of or to
obliviously adverb
obliviousness noun

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How to Use Oblivious in a Sentence: does it go with 'of' or 'to'?

Oblivious usually has to do with not being conscious or aware of someone or something. When used with this meaning, it can be followed by either to or of:

The cat had crept in silently, and we were oblivious to its presence in the room.

There was no chance that anyone could be oblivious of the dog, though; it greeted everyone in the room with frisky leaps.

Oblivious can also have to do with forgetfulness, and when it's used this way, it is often followed by of (but not to):

The child had brought in a snake she'd discovered in the garden, oblivious of the promise she'd made to leave all found creatures outside.

Whatever meaning of oblivious you choose to use, the noun that correlates with this adjective is obliviousness:

Our obliviousness to the cat's presence in the room was quickly corrected by the dog's discovery of the cat under the chair.

The noun oblivion is related to both, of course, but it is not the noun form of oblivious.

Examples of oblivious in a Sentence

They were pushing and shouting and oblivious to anyone not in their group. P. J. O'Rourke, Rolling Stone, 14 Nov. 1996
Prentice looked up from his food, which he had been steadily shovelling in, completely oblivious of everyone. Antonya Nelson, New Yorker, 9 Nov. 1992
Oblivious of any previous decisions not to stand together …  , the three stood in a tight group … Doris Lessing, The Good Terrorist, 1985
Father was oblivious to the man's speculative notice of his wife. E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime, 1974
She rested now, frankly and fairly, in the shelter of his arms, and both were oblivious to the gale that rushed past them in quicker and stronger blasts. Jack London, Burning Daylight, 1910
the out-of-state motorist claimed to be oblivious of the local speed limit, even though the signs must have been hard to miss See More
Recent Examples on the Web In a village where children cease to exist and the adults in town are oblivious to their absence, young Natalia sets out to get to the bottom of the eerie phenomenon alongside her avian pal Darío. Holly Jones, Variety, 2 Dec. 2023 But in digital correspondence reviewed by The Times, the agents said the video, even if a child’s oblivious act, still violated company policies. Kashmir Hill, New York Times, 27 Nov. 2023 It was killed off first by photography and then, more emphatically, by World War I. After that, Sargent’s portraits were fated to be looked back on as poignant emissaries from a privileged world haughtily oblivious not just to its own impending doom but to an entire generation’s. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2023 None of us, the tax-paying residents Musk points at, are oblivious to the exceptional nature of this week’s events. Kylie Robison, Fortune, 14 Nov. 2023 Ahead of us, a man with a scooter walked with a man pushing a wheelchair, oblivious to our approach. Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times, 9 Nov. 2023 Maksym and Ivan were not oblivious to the danger in Bakhmut. Anastacia Galouchka, Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2023 Alas, his wry metaphor was lost on the oblivious heckler in the front-row. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Oct. 2023 The oblivious boyfriend follows suit, dousing it with soy sauce as the family looks on in horror. Mackenzie Chung Fegan, Bon Appétit, 17 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oblivious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, borrowed from Latin oblīviōsus, from oblīvi-, base of oblīviōn-, oblīviō "state of forgetting, dismissal from the memory" + -ōsus -ous — more at oblivion

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of oblivious was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near oblivious

Cite this Entry

“Oblivious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oblivious. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


obliv·​i·​ous ə-ˈbliv-ē-əs How to pronounce oblivious (audio)
: not being conscious or aware
oblivious to the danger
oblivious of the crowd
obliviously adverb
obliviousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on oblivious

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