Is there a word for "thinking that you recognize everyone that you see"? I recently just transferred schools, and the first couple of weeks or so I thought that every stranger I saw was someone that I knew (until they got closer, of course). Googling seems to give me irrelevant results like "How to spot an idiot" and "how to recognize delusional disorders." Is this phenomenon common enough that someone bothered to create a word for it?

1 Answer 1


The medical term seems to be "hyperfamiliarity*". Your observations could also be described as a special case of Déjà vu.

As Paul Simon wrote: "..every stranger's face I see reminds me that I long to be Homeward bound".

  • Somewhat related is the "Fregoli delusion".
  • I bet Oliver Sacks has some multisyllabic term for this condition. He's written about this and the opposite condition, which he has: he cannot recognize people by their faces. Mar 12, 2014 at 15:23
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    @CarlWitthoft There's hyperfamiliarity (everyone looks familiar), hypofamiliarity (nobody looks familiar), and prosopagnosia (face blindness). Mar 12, 2014 at 16:10

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