Is there a word for the (probably irrational) fear of learning something new and maybe forgetting something you already know?1

  • 1
    "Brain overflow" -- it's a constant hassle for me (and the fear is perfectly rational). – Hot Licks May 5 '16 at 1:06
  • 1
    I should call it the Holmes fallacy after the passage in Chapter II of Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet in which Watson discovers Holmes to be ignorant of the Copernican or heliocentric theory of what we now call the solar system. – Brian Donovan May 5 '16 at 1:08
  • I know this happened in the BBC show with Benedict Cumberbatch, but this did really happen in the original literature?! That's crazy! – Danny Rodriguez May 5 '16 at 1:28

The word I suggest covers more territory than the narrow sense you mention. It doesn't touch directly on the sense of "and maybe forgetting something you already know", although that is a component of the fear commonly expressed by those who suffer from it. The word has been in use for 130 years, at least:

neophobia n.
A tendency to dislike anything new; fear of novelty.

(Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. S.v. "neophobia." Retrieved May 5 2016 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/neophobia )

A very similar term, rarer in use than 'neophobia' but as longlived, is this borrowing from Italian:

mis·o·ne·ism n.
Hatred or fear of change or innovation.

(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. S.v. "misoneism." Retrieved May 5 2016 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/misoneism )

For your narrower sense, but omitting "something new", which seems redundant when used to refer to things to be learned, a technical term from medicine works. As with the broader terms 'neophobia' and 'misoneism', the word for the specific phobia doesn't encompass the "and maybe forgetting something you already know" dimension:

Morbid fear of learning.

(Segen's Medical Dictionary. S.v. "sophophobia." Retrieved May 5 2016 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/sophophobia )

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.