Is there a concise term for forgetting names?

I've found definitions for pathologically forgetting words in general (e.g. Anomic aphasia), but nothing that directly defines forgetting names specifically in healthy individuals.

For example, a term to describe when one is introduced to a group of people and does not remember all of their names. Is there an alternative to 'forgetting their names'?

This can relate either to short term memory (forgetting their names right away) or long term memory (once knowing someone's name, but then forgetting it years later).

  • 1
    I don't have a clear answer to your question, but if you wish to read an interesting (amusing? misguided?) analysis of the phenomenon, see: psychclassics.yorku.ca/Freud/Psycho/chap1.htm
    – Rusty Tuba
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 18:41
  • 2
    If we told you the name, you'd just forget it.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 19:03
  • "Face blindness" is the common term for forgetting names and faces, and "prosopagnosia" is the technical term.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 2:34

2 Answers 2


There is a rare word you can consider: lethonomia. Though, it is used in psychiatry too and it can be part of nominal aphasia.

  1. A tendency to forget names.
  2. The inability to recall the right name.


Etymology of the word: It is derived from letho-, compounding form of Greek λήθη (lḗthē, “a forgetting, forgetfulness”) (cognates: Latin latēre "to lie hidden") and Latin nōmina (nominative plural of nōmen), 'names'.

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    Rare but very specific word.. +1.
    – user66974
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 19:10
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    +1 – Good unearthery there! Never heard of lethonomia before (but neither has the OED, so use with caution). Etymological inaccuracy, though: letho- is not a Latin verb meaning ‘lie hidden’. Rather, it’s the compounding form of Greek ληθή ‘forgetfulness’. This is cognate with λανθάνομαι and Latin latēre, the verbs that mean ‘be concealed, lie hidden, escape notice’, but it’s not quite the same word (and letho isn’t a word at all, neither in Latin nor in Greek). Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 19:22
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: Thanks! Fixed the answer. Do you think "nomina" part is correct? Lethonomia doesn't follow the same logic as other -nomia and -nomy words, so I couldn't be sure if it is from Ancient Greek νόμος (nómos, “law, custom”). Because the word is about names.
    – ermanen
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 20:08
  • No, I’m quite sure that bit is taken from Latin nōmen. Mixing Greek and Latin origins is common enough, and since it doesn’t mean anything like ‘forgetting rules/laws’, this is one such case. Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 20:14
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: I think the etymology is correct now. Right? But what kind of form is "nomia"?
    – ermanen
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 20:18

I don’t know if I’d call it a concise term as such, but one very common way of describing that you do know someone’s name, but you just can’t remember it right now is:

[His/her] name escapes me (at the moment)

This implies that you actively know the name, and that you’re aware that it’s just a temporary glitch that you can’t remember it.

If you’re talking about someone you’ve been introduced to once and then meet again after a while, forgetting is probably not even really the right term to use to begin with, since there’s likely to be little expectation of your remembering the name at all. Most likely, you’d just say, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name …”.

I’m not sure whether you’re looking for a word to describe the state of not remembering a name, the person who doesn’t remember the name, or the abstract concept of forgetting or not remembering names—but I don’t think there are any particularly concise terms for any of them, barring some obscure psychological neologism that I’m unaware of.

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