Is there a word for

"I thought I did this thing, but it turns out I only thought about doing it and then forgot to do it?"

It's like the feeling you get when someone messages you, and then you forget to message them back because you had composed a message in your mind, thought you sent it, and then forgot to do so.

Is there a word for this feeling or the action that leads to it (in English or any language)?

  • In what context are you looking for this word? I mean, do you want a noun, a verb? – mikhailcazi Aug 15 '13 at 16:55
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    You know, I think I'd take any word that relates to the concept. If there's a verb that means "to do that" then I'd take it, if there's a noun for being in that state, or an adjective describing someone in such a state. As far as I know, there's just no succinct way of putting "I thought I did that, but it turns out I only thought about it and put it off and then forgot to do it." – CodexArcanum Aug 15 '13 at 17:20
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    Déjà entendu is related: “the experience of feeling sure that one has already heard something, even though the exact details are uncertain or were perhaps imagined” – James Waldby - jwpat7 Aug 15 '13 at 17:36
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    That's a nice hole you've found in the language. I'd suggest "déjà imaginé" by allusion, but expect it wouldn't mean much to a native French speaker. – msw Aug 15 '13 at 17:37
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    I sometimes say things like I falsely disabled a mental sentinel [flag] if I've conflated the (real) memory of thinking about doing something with the (false) memory of having actually done it. But that hasn't seemed to catch on with anyone else - they just say I'm getting senile. – FumbleFingers Aug 15 '13 at 20:34

The only word that comes to my mind is absentmindedness. As in:

"My friend did not receive my text because of my absentmindedness."

The action of being absentminded leads to this problem.

  • That is a pretty good word for the overall state you'd be in to do it, but it feels overly general for the specificity of the concept I'm talking about. – CodexArcanum Aug 15 '13 at 18:07
  • How about fragmentary-success? It again is general but it does encapsulate the idea. – Mastergeek Aug 15 '13 at 18:40

A friend of mine provided an interesting new phrase for this after some discussion. He proposed déjà fait, meaning (in his words) "something you thought you had already done." I think I like that best, short and easy to use. Have to see if it catches on now!


It's called C.R.S. "Can't Remember Shit". Many things are going through your mind at the moment, but what eventually happens is, you forget the most important thing that was on your mind.


I cannot immediately think of a word that defines this example specifically but this is an instance of cognitive error/bias referred to as misattribution: a form of memory bias (see wikipedia for details)

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