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

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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 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 Along with dissociative amnesia and depersonalization/derealization disorder, DID is one of three types of dissociative disorders, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) explains. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, 20 Apr. 2021 This historical amnesia changed in the mid-1960s, when Pyotr Masherov, leader of the Belorussian Communist Party and a former partisan himself, came to power. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Mar. 2021 Autocrats and authoritarians depend on the amnesia of exhaustion. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 6 Oct. 2020 This amnesia was characteristic not only of Biden, but of virtually every speaker during the last four nights of this convention. Matthew Walther, TheWeek, 21 Aug. 2020

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

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

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The first known use of amnesia was in 1772

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Cite this Entry

“Amnesia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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


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