I'm thinking in the context of school, like flipping through your old notebooks and just having all the knowledge flood back to you.

It's sort of like nostalgia, but more in the camp of knowledge than experiences. I've found memory boner, but that's not quite what I'm after. Is anyone familiar with a word or a description for what I've described?

Thanks in advance.

  • Open the floodgates of memory?
    – bib
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 18:25
  • 'Madeleine' is a trigger for a flood of memories.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 21:32
  • Do mean a flood of facts, like from a textbook? Also given your suggestion, I guess you don't care how vulgar it is.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 21:34
  • 2
    It's called a "flashback" or a "rush of memories".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 22:56

5 Answers 5


Involuntary memory, as defined by Wikipedia, Involuntary Memory

The most famous literary example is from Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.

[Proust] describes an incident where he was eating tea soaked cake, and a childhood memory of eating tea soaked cake with his aunt was "revealed" to him. From this memory, he then proceeded to be reminded of the childhood home he was in, and even the town itself.

This is the incident of the madeleine.

A technical definition of involuntary memory, from the first source, above, is:

Involuntary memory, also known as involuntary explicit memory, involuntary conscious memory, involuntary aware memory, and most commonly, involuntary autobiographical memory, is a subcomponent of memory that occurs when cues encountered in everyday life evoke recollections of the past without conscious effort. Voluntary memory, its binary opposite, is characterized by a deliberate effort to recall the past

  • 1
    I ended up using the term madeleine moment because I like how it sounds and think it's a suitable description, although I'm a little worried it's not a well-known enough expression. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 20:56

a flood of memories

I know you use 'flood' in the question as a verb, but perhaps use it as a noun. Quoting macmillandictionary.com

4 [countable] a flood of memories or feelings is a lot of strong memories or feelings that suddenly affect you

> The song brought back a flood of memories.

  • He's asking for the rush. Flood is used all the time. So is wave and so on.
    – user116032
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 19:39
  • So, rather than just a wave, perhaps a tidal wave (or tsunami) of memories.
    – k1eran
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 20:00

My grandmother spends more time taking trips down memory lane these days than talking about the present.

EDIT: Oops! I've just read the "more in the camp of knowledge than experiences" part. However, I think it's a nice idiom—so it's worth considering it!

Not 100% an idiom, but also consider:

It's all coming back to me now.

[The Free Dictionary]


What about reminiscence:

  • the act or process of recalling past experiences, events, etc.
  • a mental impression retained and revived.
  • Often, reminiscences. a recollection narrated or told, e.g. reminiscences of an American soldier.
  • something that recalls or suggests something else.

How about total recall?

The ability to remember with clarity every detail of the events of one’s life or of a particular event, object, or experience ODO

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