"I had forgotten" can be translated in two different ways in both Spanish and French. One could say:

  • "J’avais oublié"
  • "Había olvidado"

Or — and this is the point I am getting at — you could use a turn of phrase that tramsits the idea that you are not quite responsible for your forgetting things.

  • "Ça m’a échappé"
  • "Se me olvidó"

Is there a similar construct in English?

3 Answers 3


Try some of these:

'His name escapes me.'

'The fact of his being away escaped me for a moment, and I pointlessly called at his house.'

'His birthday completely slipped my mind.'

'If my memory serves me correctly, she works in a hospital.'

'I must have suffered a lapse of memory if I told you that'.

'I completely overlooked the fact that she had been ill when I asked why the job didn't get done'. ('Overlook' can be used in either a deliberate or an accidental sense, and can thus be the cause of misunderstanding.)

  • The phantom strikes again!
    – WS2
    Feb 14, 2014 at 10:54
  • Yup, slipped my mind was the first thing that came to my mind, too. Feb 14, 2014 at 19:30

The phrase "It escapes me" might be the phrase that you are looking for. It implies, at a certain level, that there is a thought that lingers in your head but you can't seem to pinpoint it exactly.

  • Can you use “it had escaped me” to explain why you didn’t do something?
    – qdii
    Feb 14, 2014 at 9:54
  • I think you can.
    – gelolopez
    Feb 14, 2014 at 10:00
  • I think you can. You can say "The thing has escaped me" to refer to the act that you didn't intentionally forget the particular thing
    – gelolopez
    Feb 14, 2014 at 10:01
  • Yes, I agree with @gelolopez
    – d'alar'cop
    Feb 14, 2014 at 10:02
  • 1
    You mean might be the phrase that you are looking for. :)
    – Kris
    Feb 14, 2014 at 10:40

The phrase your looking for is "it slipped my mind." That can connote that you didn't really forget to do something (and maybe even fully intended to do it), but were overwhelmed by other stuff and didn't realize that you hadn't actually gotten around to that thing until it was too late (or until somebody asked you whether you'd done it yet).

"It escaped me" wouldn't work for what you're talking about. When you can't remember the name of the guy who played the dude in that movie, then you can say that "he played ____ but his name escapes me" or "his name is escaping me right now." You could use "escaped" to communicate the fact that you were having trouble remembering some fact, but using it in the context that you described would sound weird to most people. They'd probably understand what you meant, I've never really heard anybody refer to things escaping them like that. Usually a fact escapes you, not a task.

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