This happens when someone asks you about a fairly new song. You can't remember the lyrics or the music, but when it comes on the radio, you'll know that's the one. What adjective would describe that "elusive" song? I don't think "elusive" is the right word here because the song itself isn't sneaky or hard to identify or define (according to general consensus).

This works the same way when you can't remember a face, but when given a bunch of photos, you'll be able to quickly identify that adj. I need here person you're trying to remember, if among those photos.

I would be having what I've been told a "brain fart" or a "senior moment", but what would you call that which you just can't think of at the moment? Is there also a noun form for it?

  • If you didn't have single-word-request I'd suggest mental block. def: a situation in which you are suddenly unable to remember something or are not capable of understanding something
    – dcaswell
    Aug 25, 2013 at 4:51
  • 2
    For a word or phrase, you can say it's "on the tip of [your] tongue", but that doesn't work so well for songs and faces. I've sometimes seen a more general form "on the tip of my brain", but I'd consider that a bit humorous and/or colloquial, so it may not be what you want.
    – ruakh
    Aug 25, 2013 at 7:21

1 Answer 1


Not a one-word adjective but a verb:

I'll recognize or remember the song/tune when I hear it.

I'll recognize him when I see his photo.

  • 3
    +1 There are three basic measures of retention - recall, recognition and relearning. The first is where you can summon the answer (as in fill in the blank tests). The second is knowing the answer when you see it (multiple choice tests). The third is the ability to relearn the answer more quickly than if you had not known it before (retest). Recognition is right on!
    – bib
    Aug 25, 2013 at 12:00

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