obliv·​i·​ous | \ ə-ˈbli-vē-əs How to pronounce oblivious (audio) \

Definition of oblivious

1 : lacking remembrance, memory, or mindful attention
2 : lacking active conscious knowledge or awareness usually used with of or to

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Other Words from oblivious

obliviously adverb
obliviousness noun

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Most of the town’s adults are initially oblivious of the danger but the children are aided by Hopper, the kindly local sheriff (David Harbour), and Joyce (Winona Ryder), one of the boys’ mothers. P.j.c., The Economist, "The supernatural appeal of “Stranger Things”," 3 July 2019 Video of the 17-year-old shows him pointing up at Dora hanging from the window as a passerby and children remain oblivious to the situation. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Teen Miraculously Catches Girl, 2, Who Fell from a Second-Floor Window in Viral Video," 27 June 2019 Hanks has adorable charm as the oblivious man whose every move is tracked as a result of a false flag planted at the intelligence agency. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "5 things to binge-watch this weekend: Tom Hanks edition," 22 June 2019 Stefan, who’s from the Denver area and had finished her finals early last December, was on a cruise celebrating her 21st birthday when news of the closure broke, oblivious due to her lack of reception. Alia Wong, The Atlantic, "The End of an American College," 18 June 2019 Kimmel plays the world's most oblivious dry cleaner in a spoof of the upcoming movie Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters next month, and is set to include Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, and some scary-looking elemental monsters. Christian Holub, EW.com, "Watch Jimmy Kimmel and Tom Holland's 'deleted scene' for Spider-Man: Far From Home," 11 June 2019 As their oblivious fellow marchers walked around the University of Illinois campus, Christensen began to mutter about the kind of person who makes an ideal victim, federal prosecutors allege. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, "Ex-girlfriend's recordings critical as trial to begin in earnest into disappearance of Chinese scholar at U. of I.," 11 June 2019 Teens scooted in and out of the corner store, seemingly oblivious to the flashing police lights and officers. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, "‘When is it going to stop?’ A rise in homicides in the District brings grief and frustration," 29 May 2018 The idea that black children have the luxury to be as oblivious to the world around them as white children is absurd. Kirsten West Savali, The Root, "‘Highly Offended’ White Teacher Kicked My 9-Year-Old Son Out of Class for Taking Knee During Pledge," 21 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oblivious.' 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 oblivious

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for oblivious

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

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Statistics for oblivious

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for oblivious

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

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More Definitions for oblivious



English Language Learners Definition of oblivious

: not conscious or aware of someone or something


obliv·​i·​ous | \ ə-ˈbli-vē-əs How to pronounce oblivious (audio) \

Kids Definition of oblivious

: not being conscious or aware The boys were oblivious to the danger.

Other Words from oblivious

obliviously adverb

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Comments on oblivious

What made you want to look up oblivious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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