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Regarding that moment where information (joke, plot, etc) is delivered in a way such that the audience nearly misses the content of what is said, and subsequently feels an orchestrated false sense of accomplishment at having caught the line and its meaning. I've got a smorgasbord of words that cover the flash of discovery (eureka, epiphany, click, etc) and a few that work for the triumph aspect, but none that mesh the two. I'm certain I've heard this situation described in either one word or at least a succinct phrase. Insight?

Also, eureka and the like may give the wrong sense. I more closely associate them with finding the information or what-have-you all in a flash, whereas this situation is more of bringing information, gathered quickly, into abrupt focus. An epiphany of understanding, not discovery.

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    regarding "nearly" and "orchestrated false" ... what you're saying is just too complicated. you're talking about a fake, artificial sort of manipulation of a climax in art or theater - so, you might say (derisively) "Spielberg is the master of having audiences hanging on their seats and gasping on cue, but it's all just false b.s.!" {You know, as opposed to the authentic climaxes in Titanic, Avatar, etc.) What you're asking is just too confusing, and too subtle, I'm afraid. – Fattie Sep 19 '15 at 0:40
  • @Joe I believe the question is asking about the process of realizing something that should've been realized earlier. – Adam Sep 20 '15 at 7:36
  • I was going more for moments of double entendre where one meaning is obvious and unassuming while the other is much more subtle and derisive, possibly in a very situational way. The message being delivered is clearly the latter but if it is constructed and delivered in a manner that is just concealed enough then it can carry also a sense of accomplishment at having picked up on the meaning. Other ways of getting to the moment I'm looking for exist, but I like this one in particular. – Axalon57 Sep 21 '15 at 23:26
  • "Kidneys!" is one word, but you kinda gotta know the joke. – Hot Licks Sep 22 '15 at 1:42
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Conceivably, the common idiom ...

"the penny dropped"

when the penny dropped, the moment the penny dropped, the penny has finally dropped, etc.

... may be relevant to you here.

(There's also a similar phrase regarding "the other shoe".)

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  • This feels the most appropriate to what I was looking for. Covers all the bases while being as pointed in delivery as the event described. I had toyed with "the other shoe" but it never quite seemed to fit. Thanks. – Axalon57 Sep 21 '15 at 23:09
  • go ahead and tick one of the answers to close out the question, and get yourself a point, OP ! – Fattie Sep 21 '15 at 23:38
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I believe you have hit the nail on the head, and that epiphanic covers the entire event you describe. Congratulations for doing so, since it is not a frequently used word.

The original meaning of The Epiphany is ecclesiastical and refers to the festival celebrated on 6th January (12th day after Christmas) commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the form of the Magi.

The only other meaning given to epiphany by the OED is the manifestation of some divine or superhuman being.

However Oxford Dictionaries online (far less acclaimed than the OED, but perhaps more up-to-date) includes a meaning for epiphany - perhaps metaphorical - which is: a moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation.

So I believe epiphanic is the word you need.

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Regarding that moment where information (joke, plot, etc) is delivered in a way such that the audience nearly misses the content of what is said, and subsequently feels an orchestrated false sense of accomplishment at having caught the line and its meaning.

This is a situation for which the word "revelation" seems apt.

Merriam-Webster provides the following two senses for "revelation" (2b, and c):

  • b : something that is revealed; especially : an enlightening or astonishing disclosure
  • c : a pleasant often enlightening surprise
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    Stage magicians call this part of the show the reveal. It's not that you find out what they're actually doing, but you get to see something you didn't expect, if they're good illusionists. – John Lawler Sep 18 '15 at 21:21
  • Revelation was as close as I could come, but it's not quite sharp enough. Despite the definition you gave, I say revelation and my mind goes to 'quite satisfaction'. I'm hoping there's something that conveys more of the "slap your forehead in understanding" aspect. – Axalon57 Sep 18 '15 at 21:27
  • "...conveys more of the "slap your forehead in understanding" aspect" ... I'd take that as the kind of astonishment conveyed by an "astonishing disclosure." – scottb Sep 18 '15 at 21:30
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I think you may be talking about dénouement, n.

Unravelling; spec. the final unravelling of the complications of a plot in a drama, novel, etc.; ...; transf. the final solution or issue of a complication, difficulty, or mystery.

["dénouement, n.". OED Online. September 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/50013?redirectedFrom=denouement (accessed September 18, 2015). Empasis mine.]

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    the real answer. and, uh, the dénouement – Fattie Sep 19 '15 at 0:37
  • The spirit of the meaning is sound, but the circumstances of it are too drawn out. My situation calls for an immediate realization or none at all, while this sounds more in line with the culmination of long deliberation. – Axalon57 Sep 21 '15 at 23:41
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The term aha moment denotes a sudden understanding, not necessarily an original discovery (unlike eureka). It's not clear whether aha moment carries any more connotations of triumph than a plain epiphany, though the aha part is derived from the Aha! interjection that does tend to convey the speaker's feeling, "I feel smart!"

It's also worth mentioning that to twig is a verb which means to suddenly understand.

A term which means something similar to aha moment is gestalt moment.

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  • While exactly what I'm going for in meaning, it's a bit too on the nose. Had I thought to use it, I'd have been asking for a word or phrase meaning "an aha moment." Thanks. – Axalon57 Sep 21 '15 at 23:33
  • @Axalon57 There is also "gestalt moment". – Kaz Sep 21 '15 at 23:43
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A stroke of genius is an outstandingly brilliant and original idea, a sudden thought that solves a problem.

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Deadpan delivery

Deadpan is an adjective, describing a deliberately emotionless and otherwise impassive, matter-of-fact manner. It is also a form of comic delivery in which humor is presented without a change in emotion or body language. It is usually spoken in a casual, monotone, or cantankerous voice, and expresses a calm, sincere, or grave demeanor, often in spite of the ridiculousness of the subject matter.

[Leslie Nielsen - Master of deadpan delivery]

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The word that you may be describing is:

CLIMAX

the most intense, exciting, or important point of something; the culmination.

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