If someone says "the Yankees are going to lose", and everyone starts believing it, including the players, and it actually happens — what is the word for that?

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    Another way to look at the effect is from the psychological side and I can think of two ways of describing that. There's "choking", an old slang term for worrying about the consequences of a shot in pool (and other games) and then missing it as a result. There's also "learned helplessness" which describes a state of mind rather than a single event.
    – Al Maki
    Sep 6, 2017 at 15:00
  • fake news....
    – Drew
    Mar 3, 2018 at 23:55

6 Answers 6


Self-fulfilling prophecy. (I am not aware of a single-word equivalent in English.)

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    There should be a word for it, but that's just my opinion.
    – Chris
    Oct 21, 2010 at 19:13
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    @Chris: I'm afraid our chances are rather slim, given that even those crazy Germans with their kindergarten and zeitgeist and schadenfreude and whatnot haven't been able to come up with anything less clunky than selbsterfüllende Prophezeiung for self-fulfilling prophecy.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 21, 2010 at 19:23
  • What about "qruul"? "They thought they were going to lose, and they did. What a qruul."
    – Claudiu
    Oct 22, 2010 at 14:00
  • @Claudiu: sounds like an evil twin of cuil or a minion of King K. Rool...
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 22, 2010 at 14:10
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    @Chris: there should be a word for it ... OK, let's invent "to dwyer" ...
    – GEdgar
    Jun 23, 2013 at 16:37

I remember my cousin, who is a psychologist, mentioned about the term "Pygmalion effect". Here is a definition from Wikipedia:

The Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect, refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, often children or students and employees, the better they perform. The effect is named after Pygmalion, a Cypriot sculptor in a narrative by Ovid in Greek mythology, who fell in love with a female statue he had carved out of ivory.

The Pygmalion effect is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, and, in this respect, people with poor expectations internalize their negative label, and those with positive labels succeed accordingly. Within sociology, the effect is often cited with regards to education and social class.

  • Also called 'anchoring', a term that's become increasingly popular (Freakonomics, Predictably Irrational etc.). But these are not exactly what the question is asking for.
    – smci
    Oct 12, 2013 at 22:49

Depending on exact context, you might get away with "conjure". Even "will" might do.

  • Can you explain further? I tend to disagree with this.
    – Luke_0
    Oct 23, 2012 at 13:43

If someone says "...", and everyone starts believing it, ... and it actually happens — what is the word for that?

(verb) predict

early 17th century: from Latin praedict- ‘made known beforehand, declared,’ from the verb praedicere, from prae- ‘beforehand’ + dicere ‘say.’

  • He predicted the Yankees were going to lose (and everyone believed it), and they did lose.

Synonym: foretell (past tense, foretold)

However, logically there is no way to prove that any prediction or foretelling has anything at all to do with any outcome. You might argue that predictions have psychological effects which may influence an outcome, but that's very difficult if not impossible to prove.

But to answer the question more specifically, the noun forms for them would be:


Besides the already mentioned self-fulfilling prophecy, the closest things that come to my mind are:

  • lack of confidence
  • diminished self-esteem

which are rather the cause to make happen what you described.


In the Bible, the verb to call means "to speak something into existence", but it only refers to God.

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    Examples? It seems to me that in the Bible, the verb call used by God means that he names something. God speaks something into existence by saying "let there be". And in Genesis, first He speaks something into existence, and then He names it. "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven." Jun 23, 2013 at 22:35

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