What are some more formal synonyms in the form of a verb, preferably one word? thesarus.com produced 'strike', but it is transitive and sounds too grating. 'Arrive' sounds noncontextual.

  • occur ? among other possibilities. – Kris Sep 29 '14 at 13:14
  • Some metaphor; we don't have the vocabulary to talk about thinking. And you want an inchoative verb. Maybe there is one, if you pick the right metaphor. – John Lawler Sep 29 '14 at 15:01


It occurs to me that 'occurs' is the word that you are looking for.


What about "I hit on an idea"?

  • +1 I can see myself saying that in some circumstances. I will say that it is not really a "formal" synonym though - it's more of an idiom, I think? – GreenAsJade Sep 29 '14 at 13:32
  • No, I don't reckon it an idiom. Maybe it's less frequently used as "come to mind" and slightly less formal... – Mykolas Masaitis Sep 29 '14 at 13:40

Consider Materialize / Materialise or transpire.

The idea materialized in my mind whilst I was talking to a customer.

How can the average person hope to know what thoughts transpired in Einsteins brilliant mind.

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