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Lucid dreams is a phrase to describe the state of someone knowing that they are dreaming. What I am looking for is a single word that describes that moment of realization. A friend suggested lucidity, but its definition doesn't quite fit right for what I am seeking.

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The guys at Cognitive Sciences may know. – Kris Jul 3 '14 at 5:29
up vote 9 down vote accepted

I would use anagnorisis, which is the moment in a Greek narrative when the protagonist has a sudden realization of their true identity.

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This is the perfect fit. I selected this as the answer because, as defined in Merriam-Webster and other sources, it describes the point at which a person not only gains recognition of their identity, but also their situation. Bravo and excellent research. For extra credit, what would the proper, or otherwise creative uses of this term be? 'I reached a point of anagnorisis.', 'I anagnorisized and I was not longer disturbed by the unfolding events.', 'The best lucid dreams occur when I reach anagnorisis early on.', etc. – Wayne Hartman Apr 21 '11 at 0:06

I am not sure how specialized moments of realization are in English. Using words that just mean that (in varied forms):

  • realization
  • discovery
  • awakening
  • aware
  • epiphany
  • eureka
  • click — "And then it clicked: I was dreaming!"

I am unable to think of a word that is reserved for a special subject of realization. Different terms have their typical uses but I think the emotional feeling or suddenness is more of a deciding factor.

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The verb form of "surface" may be appropriate. It seems to capture the notion of partial emergence without complete exit.

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Epiphany --> moment of realization


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You could call it a moment of lucidity.


I was flying, I saw the sheep in the field below me. Then, a moment of lucidity, this was but just a dream, and none of this was real.

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I like "quicken" or "quickening."

The first moment of realization of a lucid dream is, to me, not unlike a feeling of rebirth. So, I think it would be appropriate to describe the sensation using a word which means "the first movements of a fetus."

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Not direct answers, but they may help in your quest:

  • Hypnagogia — the state between being awake & asleep (Greek for "to lead away", ref)
  • Hypnopompic — the state between being asleep & awake
  • Somniferous — sleep inducing

Check the Wikipedia reference, there are tons of articles on sleep that may help you find your word.

I like "awakening" but it could be misleading on its own.

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in a sense similar to emergence phenomena attributed to anaesthetic medications.

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