It's a classic phrase, but is there a word that encapsulates the sentiment of this idiom?


Single word isn't a requirement, I'm just looking for a concise and eloquent alternative.

I don't have a specific sentence in mind; I think it's a beautiful idiom and I'm simply looking for alternatives to it.

In my opinion, context isn't required. Nonetheless, I've been asked to provide some degree of specificity: the first example that always comes to mind is the scene in The Matrix where Cypher is eating a steak and talking to the agent. Cypher says:

"I know this steak doesn't exist; I know that when I put in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it's juicy and delicious. After 9 years, you know what I realized? Ignorance is bliss."

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    If there was, then there probably wouldn't be that idiom. Maybe, or maybe not. Usually, the more words used, the easier it is to finesse a more specific meaning. Perhaps try the old classic version of Roget's Thesaurus (1983 or earlier?). It's great for a rainy day . . .
    – F.E.
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:02
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    You might get more appropriate "one word" candidates if you provided the context and the specific sentence. For in that way, we'll know what kind of meaning that you are wanting. For if the idiom is already a very good fit for that sentence, then it'll probably be a better choice than "one word" candidates. But, if the idiom doesn't quite fit in your sentence, then we'll see that and know which way to go in trying to find a better phrase or word for that sentence. So, could you provide us the actual sentence?
    – F.E.
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:08
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    It might be that you're looking for an adjective with that kind of meaning in a certain context, or maybe you're looking for a noun (perhaps for a formal style). -- The idiom is rather well known, but we don't understand how you are wanting to use that "one word" candidate, or in what type of context--formal writing, informal, a monograph, dialogue, etc.
    – F.E.
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:13
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    I don't want to come across as though I'm harping on this (though, actually, I am), but the idiom is only 3 words, so that's pretty short, imo, and if there was another phrase that was shorter or more eloquent, then it would probably have supplanted that idiom. It is possible, though, that you are thinking of a specific sentence where that idiom would not be too acceptable, and so, you'd like a better choice. But we don't know how the candidate "one word" or phrase should differ from the idiom in order to be a better choice--not without the sentence.
    – F.E.
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:20
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    In that kind of context, I don't think you'll find a better replacement: for the whole idiom is being used for a whole sentence or thought in that excerpt. If it were being used as part of a sentence, then you'd probably have a better chance of finding a better word or phrase, due to the unique context. But here, in that context, that idiom seems perfect for what is needed. Considering that the movie used professional scriptwriters, some very good ones, if there had been a better phrase or sentence than that idiom, then they would've probably have used it. And I'll leave you alone now. :)
    – F.E.
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:40

5 Answers 5


Oh, these work even better with your Matrix reference.

For a single word, try clueless: Lacking understanding or knowledge:

"Oh, for those wonderful days when I was clueless as to my husband's infidelities!"

Then there's unconscious from From Latin un + cōnscius : com-, com- + scīre, to know:

Happily unconscious of the new calamity at home, Miss Pross threaded her way along the narrow streets and crossed the river by the bridge of the Pont-Neuf, reckoning in her mind the number of indispensable purchases she had to make. - Dickens

Incognizant (lacking knowledge or awareness; unaware) is good:

It was with full cognizance of the worldwide melting of glaciers that we rode the telepherique up to gaze down at the glacier at the top of an incognizant world. - Donna Stonecipher

Insensible works:

Yes, cold and insensible Nymph, (replied I) that luckless swain your Brother, is no more, and you may now glory in being the Heiress of Sir Edward's fortune. - Jane Austen

And, asleep:

Now for the first time he FELT that he was asleep and dreaming. - Bram Stoker

Finally, delusional:

I miss labouring under the happy delusion that my life is interesting enough to tweet about.


Blissful ignorance , but still two words, not one.


Insouciant: marked by blithe unconcern

Synonyms: carefree, lighthearted, buoyant, happy-go-lucky, untroubled, devil-may-care, airy, free and easy, sunny.

Upon your edit, and the reference to the Matrix steak scene, the word that best suits is barmecidal: lavish or plentiful in imagination only; illusory; sham: a Barmecide feast

[C18: from the name of a prince in The Arabian Nights who served empty plates to beggars, alleging that they held sumptuous food]


Someone who is in this state could be described as being in a happy stupor (e.g. the average government's conception of the ideal voter, or the average corporation's conception of the ideal worker).


What about "Egyptian Night?" It's an old Bible phrase that could work. For example, in Rudyard Kipling's poem, "White Man's Burden" it is used used to mean exactly ignorant bliss:

"Why brought ye us from bondage,

Our loved Egyptian night?”

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    I suspect that using "Egyptian Night" would require that you explain the meaning of the phrase to almost all of your audience. Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 7:24

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