You'll often hear people reference how they learned so much about something, but it didn't feel like they were learning. Is there a word to describe this?

Sample sentence: "I had no idea how much I learned from the trip to the planetarium. It was _____."

  • I can tell you the words that fit in the blank space and convey the meaning but they are not restricted to learning.
    – vickyace
    May 5, 2016 at 2:17

1 Answer 1


What you are describing is called osmosis:

a process of absorption or diffusion suggestive of the flow of osmotic action; especially : a usually effortless often unconscious assimilation

She seems to learn foreign languages by osmosis.


The word 'osmosis' has its origins in biology, describing the natural tendency for water to flow from areas of low concentration to high concentration in cells. The underlying idea is that it is a form of passive diffusion, in which no work has to be done by the cell.

Its adjective form is osmotic, and its adverb form osmotically. I'm not sure how often these constructions are seen in typical speech, however.

  • Exactly the word I would have suggested. I can't think of one more apt.
    – Yeshe
    May 5, 2016 at 3:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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