What is a nicer, less immature saying?

I love using 'A Freudian slip', but that is only applicable in certain situations.

  • 5
    I sometimes say a "thinko". – Dan Bron Sep 10 '14 at 16:49
  • 15
    I don't think a Freudian slip is the same. I brain fart is when you forget something that you normally would know, such as someone's name. A Freudian slip is when you say the wrong thing, inadvertently revealing some subconscious thought. It is also used to refer to any accidental use of a sexual term in an inappropriate context. – asmeurer Sep 10 '14 at 18:43
  • 49
    A Freudian slip is when you say one thing, but mean your mother. – SrJoven Sep 10 '14 at 19:38
  • 5
    "Brain flatus" would be a little more formal. ;-) – David Richerby Sep 10 '14 at 21:01
  • 3
    Only a moment ago I had an answer to suggest, but it seems to have escaped me. ;) – talrnu Sep 11 '14 at 13:44

10 Answers 10


In formal contexts, you might consider a temporary "lapse", or, more specifically, a "mental lapse".

In less formal situations, I've often used "thinko"; sometimes elderly people say they've had a "senior moment".

If you've specifically overlooked something otherwise obvious, then a short, descriptive term is a (minor) "oversight".

  • 4
    Duplicated one of your offerings based on failure to read, so deleted. Links to sources would be good. – bib Sep 10 '14 at 18:07
  • 4
    A momentary lapse of reason, if you're a Pink Floyd fan. – hobbs Sep 13 '14 at 2:24
  • I like a mental lapse and the pink floyd reference per @hobbs, im going to use both. Thanks – myol Sep 13 '14 at 9:19
  • perfect answers from Dan – Fattie Sep 13 '14 at 10:06
  • 1
    I think 'senior moment' gets used somewhat ironically by less-than-elderly people at times, too. – PeterT Sep 13 '14 at 11:45

Mental hiccup is a fairly common idiom which can be used in circles where "brain fart" might raise eyebrows.

I would not, however, equate it with a "Freudian slip" which implies an inadvertent exposing of someone's subconscious/secret thoughts or desires.

  • another great answer – Fattie Sep 13 '14 at 10:06

There is also "mental block" or "neuron misfiring" (not commonly used but I like it).

  • 2
    You get some alliterative appeal by combining these, and I've heard it used before: "mental misfire" – Izkata Sep 12 '14 at 17:10
  • We could also say a "miswired neuron", which sounds a little like "getting ones wires crossed", although that is a more specific situation. – joeytwiddle Feb 6 '15 at 17:26

My favorite is from an Encyclopedia Brown book that I read 30+ years ago:

Bubbles in the Think-Tank.

I sometimes refer to others (or even myself) as suffering from cranial-rectal inversion, but I feel that implies a longer term than the momentary lapse implied of a brain fart or bubbles in the think-tank.

  • 2
    Despite the superficial technicality of the words, I find "cranial-rectal inversion" to be substantially more immature than "brain fart". Certainly more graphic, anyway. – WinnieNicklaus Sep 11 '14 at 16:17

I've used "synapse lapse" before. It is informal but more refined than a fart.

  • 1
    I like the awkward rhyme. :) – mskfisher Sep 12 '14 at 14:27

Possibly more offensive than brain fart, a senior moment or a blonde moment

  • 3
    -1 OP asked for "What is a nicer, less immature saying?" not "more offensive" – Shokhet Sep 11 '14 at 5:17
  • 2
    Incidentally, I don't think that "senior moment" is very offensive. – Shokhet Sep 11 '14 at 5:18
  • 7
    @joeytwiddle only if they understand it. – oerkelens Sep 11 '14 at 15:02
  • 2
    Whether or not it's offensive really depends on context. Judge your company and if they're offended, don't use the term again. – AJFaraday Sep 11 '14 at 15:27
  • 9
    I think both these terms can only be used in a self-deprecating way. I have a blonde friend who is highly intelligent but who will claim "blonde moments" when she makes a mistake; similarly, a 60's scientist who forgets a name and blames a "senior moment" is recognizing that the typical effects of aging are affecting his brain. Don't ever use it on others - "wow you had a real blonde moment there" - unless you know them very, very well. – Floris Sep 11 '14 at 15:55

I've used "I just had a moment." and heard "Are you having a moment?" Short for senior moment I guess.

  • Generally 'having a moment' refers to someone having a tantrum or otherwise being unsuitable for the company of others, no? – atroon Sep 11 '14 at 17:22
  • That would be 'having a fit' @atroon. Upon being berated for obvious incorrectness I'd say, "Sorry, I just had a moment there." – Mazura Sep 11 '14 at 17:46

A mental aberration is something I've used before. It even features in ODO's dictionary entry:


A departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically an unwelcome one:
I see these activities as some kind of mental aberration

  • 10
    To me, that phrase would imply something actually pathological about the workings of the brain in question. – Kyle Strand Sep 10 '14 at 18:59
  • This sounds slightly too extreme while also too general; it could be applied to believing a logical inconsistency. It isn't directly wrong, though. – Magus Sep 10 '14 at 19:00

If you're squeamish about saying fart, try the word 'mistake'.

  • 7
    "What's that smell?" "Oh sorry, I just mistook." – Ryguy Sep 11 '14 at 16:25
  • 1
    @RyanJ I feel we must now endeavour to put that phrase into common usage. – AJFaraday Sep 12 '14 at 8:27
  • Those of us who mistake of mistake prefer the term "fluffy." – Howard Pautz Sep 15 '14 at 20:38

How about having a blind spot?

protected by RegDwigнt Sep 11 '14 at 15:11

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.