I notice thesauruses do not list the word oblivience, yet I am one of those people who give a little extra meaning to "free speech", as in "it doesn't hurt pioneering as long as the intent is clear".

The context of usage is a dictatorship that has infiltrated its opposition ranks, funding and directing it to actually do its bidding while believing to be struggling against it. So the dictatorship is giving orders in "oblivience" (to the opposition), as in "the people who follow orders are oblivious to whom gives them.

Or maybe there is a more adequate choice that fits the context and diction? How to word it so that it is clear that what's oblivious is the implied but not mentioned opposition?

Naturally, I could simply go for "giving orders to the oblivious", however the nuance I am seeking is a lot more subtle. I want less of an emphasis on the "oblivious opposition" and more on the state of obliviousness. Which is why I think "the oblivious" doesn't cut it, because it stops just short of adding opposition.

I also notice that while oblivious implies general unawareness, its derivatives are far more specific, implying the act of forgetting in particular.

I am not a native speaker, which may be a factor, because there is a way to expressing this subtle nuance in my native language. A more verbose way to put it would be either "giving orders amidst obliviousness" but I kind of want it more concise.

So in the absence of of a better fit, and if I had to coin a term, how intuitive is it, not the word on its own, but in the context, outlined in the second paragraph? I should also probably note that one of the reasons to chose oblivience is its similarity to obedience, as in "oblivious obedience", a smoosh word if you will, and also with a ring of ignorance, but a form that doesn't involve ignoring information by choice but through obliviousness.

  • 1
    I would suggest "obliviousness" instead. People might figure out what you mean by "oblivience" but, then again, they might not. Why risk confusion?
    – Robusto
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 16:24
  • @Robusto - unfortunately that sounds like the one giving orders is oblivious.
    – dtech
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 16:44
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    You have some strange notions about English, amigo.
    – Robusto
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 16:57
  • @Robusto - I have strange notions about lots of things, however in this particular case it is straightforward. "John beats Jimmy in rage". It is obvious that the one being in rage is John, not Jimmy.
    – dtech
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 17:00
  • That is a false equivalence. The placing of a word in quotes has a tendency to put it at a remove from its normal functioning in a sentence and ask that it be understood in a different context.
    – Robusto
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 17:02

3 Answers 3


In search of oblivie̳nce

“Can” you use it? Why yes, certainly you “can” use it, to the extent that you “can” use any word you please, even ones of your minting. But that doesn’t mean everyone will understand your word in the same way you yourself choose to.

In case you haven’t looked far enough afield, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) attests these nouns starting with obliv-:

  • oblive̳scence
  • obliviality
  • oblivia̳nce ← ᴠᴇʀʏ ʟɪᴋᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴡᴏʀᴅ
  • oblivia̳ncy
  • oblivion
  • obliviousness
  • oblivi̳scence
  • oblivium
  • oblivy

Plus lest one forget, from the “à la recherche des mots perdus oubliés” département, French has rather more recently than any of these just listed further lent us ou̲bliette, ou̲bliable, ou̲bliance.

All but a few of these terms are uncommon to rare. The common radical ᴏʙʟɪᴠ- will convey to most readers something they’ll take from oblivion, but then they’ll just apply what they know of derivational morphology (combining forms) to guess at a particular sense. It therefore follows that if you have your own special sense for something like one of these, you’ll need to set that up clearly for the reader to fend off misreadings.

Even then you may have some difficulty establishing oblivie̲nce so close to some of these others like oblivia̳nce — not to mention oblive̲scence and oblivi̲scence. I fear you’ll find that most readers will not consider a pairing of -a̲nce and -e̲nce spellings to be different words, and quite rightly, which means that it will to them look like you are merely choosing an alternate spelling for the same word.

I was asked what the OED says some of these words mean, so here you go:

  • Obliviance is an obsolete synonym for the common oblivion.
  • Obliviscence is the fact of forgetting or the state of having forgotten; forgetfulness.
  • Obliviscible is an adjective meaning able or likely to be forgotten.
  • Oblivate is a verb meaning to forget, to consign to oblivion; so too are oblivionize and oblive.
  • Oblivy is also just oblivion, as is oblivium.

There are others, but I quite doubt there are any surprises here. Again, knowing what the ᴏʙʟɪᴠ- morpheme conveys and what the other morphemes combining with it in these means, all are perfectly recognizable in form and sense to the literate reader. If you do plan to go down this road, you might also consider words derived from ᴏʙʟɪᴛ-, like oblite as a verb or adjective (but not to my knowledge anything like oblate).

Even nonce uses built from established morphemes in the language will make sense despite never having been seen before by a given reader; that’s part of how language works and so is completely natural and normal. Nonetheless when you wish to apply some narrower sense than would be suggested by these, it is up to you to acquaint your reader with the auctorial nuance you have intended.

Caveat scriptor

At the risk of bestowing writing advice ancillary to the surface question asked, I must counsel you against trawling through a thesaurus in search of le mot juste. This signal faux pas is one made by budding writers everywhere and everywhen; it risks making your writing not better but worse.

Please do not mistake me. This instinct to create the appearance of new words, whether by combining known forms or by applying new spins on old words, is perfectly natural. The urge to do so is hardly limited to fiction, either, let alone to genre fiction.

But there is a danger here, one best avoided.

Not everyone can be Tolkien1,2,3,4 or Wolfe5,6,7 — nor should they try, for as we see with Miéville8, an exotic vocabulary can as easily come off as annoying and pretentious as delightful and wonderful. Finding your own voice is even harder when using words that are not your own. By focusing on the ordinary machinery of expression, one avoids the risk of coming off as a weak writer feebly trying to impress with obscure or invented words.

  • Many of the words don't seem to have a valid thesaurus entry or at least my searches don't find any. If you have them, it would be useful to hyperlink each one to its corresponding definition. Also, in my context, most of the "viable" candidates actually seem to imply the one being oblivious is the one giving the orders rather than the one being ordered.
    – dtech
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 16:40
  • @ddriver They’re from the OED, which is behind a paywall, which means links might frustrate most people.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 16:43
  • Then if not too much trouble, provide the definition following each word. Unless copy/paste is a criminal act :)
    – dtech
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 16:45
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    @tchrist Bravo. Now we can be done with this. It's amazing to me how people think everything worth knowing is googleable for free. It ain't.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 19:15
  • 1
    @Lambie - it's amazing how people use everything so lightheartedly, what I mean is that it is common language, not state secrets. Also how "searching online" implies the sole act of using google ;)
    – dtech
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 19:41

Although new words--neologisms--are often useful and help a language to reflect common usage, some words cause more confusion than clarity. The use of "oblivience" will most likely confuse conservative readers, and you will lose some credibility because some readers will assume you do not know proper usage. In general, a neologism should function to create nuanced meaning that needs a new word or form of a word because of cultural change, but in this case, the new word adds nothing to the meaning of an existing word, oblivious.

  • I actually have a disclaimer for "own words" and their usage is denoted as I use many. So in that aspect, the reader is informed that it is a "new" word and meaning should be extrapolated from the context.
    – dtech
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 16:42

If "meaning should be extrapolated from the context", what was the point of your question, please?

Could you paraphrase “it doesn't hurt pioneering as long as the intent is clear" into something whose intent was clear? Does "pioneering" mean something like "experimenting" or what, please?

Similarly, could you rephrase “The context of usage is a dictatorship that has infiltrated its opposition ranks, funding and directing it to actually do its bidding while believing to be struggling against it”?

In that context please note that while the rest of the sentence is simply semantically meaningless, “while believing to be struggling against it” is also grammatically wrong.

While “the people who follow orders are oblivious to who - (not whom) - gives them” would not be ungrammatical, your example was, even if a word “oblivience” existed - which Google seems to think it doesn’t.

However, if you look up “oblivious” you should find a handy choice of words that would foot your bill.

“In oblivience of” might well be substituted by "unaware of, unconscious of, heedless of, unmindful of, insensible of / to, unheeding of, ignorant of, blind to, deaf to, unsuspecting of, disregardful of, unconcerned with / about, impervious to, unaffected by, insensitive to / of, indifferent to, detached from, incognizant of…"

Many another adequate choice fits the context and diction and despite all of them, it would always be wrong to word anything so that it was clear that "what was oblivious was any implied but not mentioned opposition." If you really think otherwise, please rephrase it…

Actually it would be very strange to go for "giving orders to the oblivious", however much more subtle the nuance you are seeking.

You may want less of an emphasis on the "oblivious opposition" and either you need first to acknowledge that “obliviousness” never has anything at all to do with “opposition”.

“Oblivious” might imply unawareness but what gave you the idea that its derivatives implied anything to do with forgetting?

If there is a way of expressing (or to express) this subtle nuance in your native language - what is your native language, please? - then why in that language can you not rephrase the idea?

“… giving orders amidst obliviousness" is hardly verbose but exactly how would “… giving orders amidst oblivience” be different, let alone less verbose?

How could oblivience be more concise than obliviousness, except in the saving of a couple of letters?

What, please, is your similarity of oblivience to obedience? Further, can you please rephrase "oblivious obedience”?

Can you explain “smoosh”?

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