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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — hypermnesia

Good morning, Netizens...

December 08, 2012

Word of the Day

  • hypermnesia
  • audio pronunciation
  • \hye-perm-NEE-zhee-uh\


: abnormally vivid or complete memory or recall of the past

"When I heard Peyton Manning might have hypermnesia, I was going to buy him a get-well card. Then I learned that it's a fancy way of saying he's got an abnormally sharp memory." — From an article by Bob Molinaro in the Virginian-Pilot, January 30, 2010

"'Funes, His Memory' tells the evocative tale of Ireneo Funes, a Uruguayan boy who suffers an accident that leaves him immobilized along with an acute form of hypermnesia, a mental abnormality expressed in exceptionally precise memory." — From John Brockman's 2011 book Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?


Perhaps the most famous individual to exhibit hypermnesia was a Russian man known as "S," whose amazing photographic memory was studied for 30 years by a psychologist in the early part of the 20th century. "Hypermnesia" sometimes refers to cases like that of "S," but it can also refer to specific instances of heightened memory (such as those brought on by trauma or hypnosis) experienced by people whose memory abilities are unremarkable under ordinary circumstances. The word "hypermnesia," which has been with us since at least 1882, was created in New Latin as the combination of "hyper-" (meaning "beyond" or "super") and "-mnesia" (patterned after "amnesia"). It ultimately derives from the Greek word "mnasthai," meaning "to remember."

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.