I'm not sure "opposite" is the correct word, but I am searching for a word that is about remembering something unpleasant.

When I searched the Internet for an opposte of "to reminisce", I only found words about not remembering, and not about remembering something unpleasant.

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    Reminisce doesn't necessarily have a good connotation; it's just that it's volitional -- i.e, one does it on purpose -- and generally one only does this for pleasant memories. Reminiscing about when one's fingernails were pulled out is not a likely activity. Commented May 10, 2015 at 17:35
  • The best I can think of is something pretty neutral such as to recollect. Most words for what you're looking for aren't verbs but nouns (like flashback suggested below).
    – Adam
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 17:38
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    I think "brood on" is probably fairly close.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 17:59

7 Answers 7



Rumination (psychology)

Rumination is the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one's distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. Rumination is similar to worry except rumination focuses on bad feelings and experiences from the past, whereas worry is concerned with potential bad events in the future. Both rumination and worry are associated with anxiety and other negative emotional states.
Wikipedia: Rumination

Is Dwelling on the Negative Hurting You? The Cognitive Costs of Rumination

You are sitting at home and your mind keeps going over the negatives -- over and over. You keep reviewing what has happened to you -- perhaps a conflict with someone, something at work, your living conditions, your finances, your health. Whatever. You dwell on it. You are stuck.

What is Rumination?

A lot of people sit at home, dwell on the negative and find themselves getting deeper and deeper in their depression. Psychologists call this style of repetitive negative thoughts "rumination." When cows ruminate, they chew on their cud, chomping over and over without swallowing. When humans ruminate, they repeat negative thoughts over and over, dwelling on something either in the past or the present -- but do nothing to change anything. Ruminating is like spinning your wheels in the mud. You don't seem to be getting anywhere, so you just keep spinning your wheels, faster and faster. You keep digging a hole, find yourself stuck, and dig deeper and deeper.

Examples of rumination include repeating in your mind negative experiences in the past, replaying conversations that you had, dwelling on the "injuries" and "injustices" that you have suffered, or asking questions that don't have answers, such as "Why am I so depressed?," "Why me?," "What is the meaning of all of this?" or "Why did he or she say that?" You may ruminate about your physical maladies, your aches and pains, your emotions, your sensations or just about anything. The key thing is that you are stuck.
Huffington Post: Is Dwelling on the Negative Hurting You? by Robert Leahy, Ph.D.


If you can't get something unpleasant out of your head, you would agonize over it.

agonize (verb) - to think or worry very much about something; to cause to suffer agony


dwell on/upon

verb (past and past participle dwelt or dwelled)

2 (dwell on/upon) Think, speak, or write at length about (a particular subject, especially one that is a source of unhappiness, anxiety, or dissatisfaction): I’ve got better things to do than dwell on the past


Would flashback be the word? It's maybe not specific enough, but certainly in connection with, say acid flashback it has unpleasant connotations.

flashback noun 1.1 A disturbing sudden vivid memory of an event in the past, typically as the result of psychological trauma or taking LSD. ‘The drinking continued during his disembarkation leave; and he says that by that stage he was experiencing numerous flashbacks to the traumatic events that he had witnessed.’ - ODO

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    Welcome to ELU, Stuart. Your answer would be more valuable if you cited a dictionary of other authoritative resource.
    – ScotM
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 19:23
  • Thank you, ScotM - is that the expected procedure/format here? Sorry, I am very new! Commented May 10, 2015 at 19:25
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    Yes :-)
    – ScotM
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 19:30
  • @ScotM Where does it say that? I don't see it in english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer
    – Barmar
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 16:28
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    @Barmar: "Links to external resources are encouraged, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there. Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline."
    – ScotM
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 16:34

I would add "lament" to this list as it deals with mourning and grief.

A lament or lamentation is a passionate expression of grief, often in music, poetry, or song form. The grief is most often born of regret, or mourning. Laments can also be expressed in a verbal manner, where the participant would lament about something they regret or someone they've lost, usually accompanied by wailing, moaning and/or crying. Laments constitute some of the oldest forms of writing and examples are present across human cultures.


The best I can come up with off the top of my head is to re-experience and the description of the experience would clarify the negative connotation.

Example: "My father smalled the rain and began to scan the sky, it was as if he were re-experiencing the jungles of Viet Nam."

Source:Re-experiencing symptoms are a specific cluster of PTSD symptoms


To dwell on something means to keep one's self on the past, not to think about the past periodically, while to ruminate is as good as bringing the past to present through thoughts. I'll put it as: "she keeps dwelling and ruminating the traumatic experience of her time with her first husband". Hope this works..

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