Is there a word for the feeling you get when you didn't notice you expected something to happen but then when the event occurs you have that moment of realisation or understanding where you recognise you expected or predicted what would happen all along? Its a feeling that would usually be verbally described by saying "Oh, of course that would happen!", in a literal sense.

I've been racking my brain for half a day and stumbling through dictionaries and thesauruses to no avail. I have the sensation I know the word I'm looking for and its on the tip of my tongue however I would also be greatly relieved to be told no such word exists.

An example of its use would be to describe the feeling you would get if you knew a close friend had affections for you, but it wasn't until someone specifically told you so that you realised you knew.

"Jane felt _______ when she finally completed the puzzle. Of course it was so blatantly obvious she realised she knew how to solve it all along" [Adjective]


"Jane experienced a feeling of ______ when she finally completed the puzzle. Of course it was so blatantly obvious she realised she knew how to solve it all along" [Noun]

  • You mean something karmic?
    – user66974
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 8:48
  • A lot of us have hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Some of which remain idle day dreams. When something happens _ 'out of the blue' _ it's always a welcome surprise. Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 8:53
  • 1
    So an example would be when you finally solve a puzzle, you realise that of course it couldn't possibly have been anything else, that you should have known all along. I agree, this is a notion that just happens, and it is quite a novel experience. I'm sure there is a word, but I am intrigued to discover it with you
    – nickson104
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:55
  • Do you mean the moment realisation dawns, the moment the veils are lifted, the eureka moment when all becomes clear?
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 10:20
  • Note, to avoid closure you should add an example sentence with a "blank" where this word would be used...
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 10:22

5 Answers 5


A literal fit would be hindsight bias (wikipedia).

Hindsight bias, also known as the knew-it-all-along effect or creeping determinism, is the inclination, after an event has occurred, to see the event as having been predictable, despite there having been little or no objective basis for predicting it.

It's also sometimes phrased as "Hindsight is 20/20," referring to the standard measurement of "perfect" human vision. It's a noun, so it fits your second example smoothly.

Jane experienced a feeling of hindsight bias when she finally completed the puzzle. Of course it was so blatantly obvious she realized she knew how to solve it all along.

I admit this answer is a bit cheeky, because you're looking for something that means they literally knew it all along, whereas hindsight bias is actually saying they didn't know it, only think they should have known it after the fact. As a counterpoint, I offer this: if Jane really knew the solution to the puzzle, why didn't she get it immediately? Or, if you really know this word exists, why did you have to ask the question?

My real point is that human memory is fallible. Just because you think a thing doesn't make it so. It's a fascinating article; I suggest reading the whole thing before you decide any understanding is inevitable. Consider this snippet:

Research shows that people still exhibit the bias even when they are informed about it. Researchers attempts to decrease the bias in participants has failed, leading one to think that hindsight bias has an automatic source in cognitive reconstruction. This supports the Causal Model Theory and the use of sense-making to understand event outcomes. The only observable way to decrease hindsight bias in testing is to have the participant think about how alternative hypotheses could be correct. This makes the participant doubt correct hypothesis and report that they would not have chosen it. However, this only decreases the hindsight bias, and there is not a solution to eliminate it.

For a real word that fits your expectations (or at least, what I think your expectations are), consider inevitable/inevitability:

1. unable to be avoided, evaded, or escaped; certain; necessary: an inevitable conclusion. 2. sure to occur, happen, or come; unalterable:
3. that which is unavoidable.

Source: inevitable. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved July 13, 2015, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/inevitable

Jane experienced a feeling of inevitability when she finally completed the puzzle. Of course it was so blatantly obvious she realized she knew how to solve it all along.

  • I think you've hit the mark as close as anyone yet. I think the word I'm looking for is very specific in that its the feeling you get when hindsight bias kicks into effect. I am also relatively confident now such a word does not exist. I think in the future I'll use your example of "Jane experienced a feeling of hindsight bias when she finally completed the puzzle." Its not perfect of course, but if a word doesn't exist to represent that feeling then it doesn't exist. Cheers for the help.
    – Gumboots
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 16:40
  • @LittleEva if I must... But I still maintain that a hyperlink is a de facto citation.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 17:56
  • Even if the destination of the link is dead, the link itself has the site/cite within it. That's what the link is, it's just elegantly hidden. I think of it as a footnote or bibliography reference, like a superscript [1] on a wikipedia page; you can investigate it further if you wish and the text itself is kept clean of typographical clutter. @LittleEva
    – Patrick M
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 18:11
  • I think I complained in the same meta thread, fwiw... For the small text, use <sup>for superscript</sup> and <sub>for subscript</sub>. Doesn't work in comments, so that's the verbatim markup. Also, if you're ever curious about someone's formatting, click on edit to check out the raw markdown, tweak the post to preview it to make sure you know what's doing what, then cancel.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 19:04

"Jane felt stupid when she finally completed the puzzle. Of course it was so blatantly obvious she realised she knew how to solve it all along"

That's how I'd feel anyway.

A lot of great minds feel like an idiot when they finally figure out something that they should have a long time ago.

The most striking example I can think of is Hercule Poirot's refrain: "I am/have been an imbecile". He says that quite frequently in Agatha Christie's books, whenever some explanation finally dawns on him.

For example, here in 'The Big Four'

"But I have been an imbecile. I see clearly at last. It is undoubtedly the blessed saints who stopped the train.

There's a thin line between this situation, and the fallacy of retrospective determinism (When someone says after the fact: "I knew all along this would happen")

When it is assumed that, because some event has occurred, its occurrence was inevitable, and should have been clear from the “obvious” causes. (Logfall.Wordpress.com)

  • It's an everyday occurrence for me, +1.
    – user98990
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 18:06
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    @LittleEva: Haha. That just puts your grey cells in the league of Poirot!
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 6:06

Serendipity, perhaps ...



  1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
  2. good fortune; luck

Sophomoric as it sounds, in the US we use the exclamation "Duh!" to acknowledge the moment when the metaphorical clouds part and we see the obvious.

You could say that Jane had a 'duh! moment'.


There are a few phrases that describe what you're referring to, when something unlikely to happen occurs.

"When Pigs fly", "Once in a Blue Moon", and "A cold day in hell"

As far as one word to describe the occurrence.. I'd say that Adynaton or Adynata fits your bill to the letter.

Though if just describing probability of an occurrence one could use Implausible or Inconceivable

  • Perhaps I should edit my question to be clearer. I meant something you didn't realise you expected, not something unexpected that happens. Its something that seems so obvious once it happened that you realise you knew it would happen all along, but it didn't click that you knew until after the fact.
    – Gumboots
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:15
  • You mean "Blindsided"?
    – Sandwich
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:39
  • Not quite. Blindsided would imply you were caught off guard or tricked by something. I'm more looking for a feeling (adjective) or a phrase that describes a feeling then a verb. Perhaps the feeling is less common then I thought, or a descriptor doesn't actually exist.
    – Gumboots
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:54
  • Well you could always use "Ohhhhhhh."
    – Sandwich
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 10:12
  • This question has been asked in various forms before english.stackexchange.com/questions/95980/… Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 10:18

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