Is there a word meaning 'to think about thinking '?

Ex: 'I was thinking about thinking about that suggestion.'

  • 1
    Please be more specific. A sample sentence would be nice. – Ricky Aug 27 '18 at 0:38
  • I have no idea what this even means. – tchrist Aug 27 '18 at 1:06
  • 2
    Sounds a bit like procrastination. :) – Lawrence Aug 27 '18 at 1:27
  • I would be tempted to use the neologism "metatate". – Hot Licks Sep 26 '18 at 2:05

One word that comes to mind is metacognition:


: awareness or analysis of one's own learning or thinking processes

• research on metacognition … has demonstrated the value of monitoring one's own cognitive processes —Colette A. Daiute

The Study.com psychology course transcript "What is Metacognition in Psychology? - Definition & Examples" discusses this (emphasis in original):

Whether we're driving our cars, reading a book, texting a friend, or eating at a burger joint, we're using our brains. Our thought processes aren't limited to the classroom, and we learn all the time, from everyday experiences as well as from teachers and professors. So what's important about this learning? It's called metacognition, or what you know about your own thoughts. Metacognition is a deeper level of thinking that includes your ability to think about your thinking; how you understand, adapt, change, control, and use your thought processes.

Charlie, a professor preparing to instruct on metacognition, has written some ideas on the board about when his students use metacognition:

  • Anytime you problem solve or apply strategies, like figuring out a tip at a restaurant or planning a road trip across the country.
  • To reflect on results from a learning experience, or evaluate them, such as when you receive a B on a test and do extra credit to push the grade to an A.
  • When you're aware of ways that work for you to remember information, like dates or facts for a test.

In other words, as Charlie later explains to his students, you're being metacognitive anytime you stop and think about yourself as a thinker. Charlie's students are a little confused, so he offers additional explanations.

Although the psychology course transcript uses metacognitive as an adjective, it's not found in Merriam-Webster. It is, however, found in Oxford.

But I have not found an actual verb form of the word.

Still, you might be able to rephrase your sentence to something like this:

I was involved in metacognition with respect to your suggestion.

  • Out of curiosity, I googled 'metacogitate' and got some hits. – user888379 Jan 11 '19 at 18:49

Approaching the question from a different angle, I would suggest "introspection." "a reflective looking inward: an examination of one's own thoughts and feelings." Merriam Webster's. The verb would be "introspect." "On the suggestion, he introspected."


If you accept that preplanning ("planning in advance," Merriam-Webster), is conceptually sound, then "prethinking" would be analogous, and for what it's worth, it's defined by the Urban Dictionary as "to think ahead before you say what you were going to say." But logically "say" could be replaced with "write," or "draw," or "think." It's essentially a process of thinking before you do something. "I'm going to think about thinking about cats." "I'm going to prethink the subject of cats." "I'm going to prethink your suggestion." "I'm going to prethink thinking about . . . whatever."

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    Unlike "metacognition", this is not a word I've heard before, and if UD is correct, it doesn't fit the context (thinking before you speak is different than thinking about thinking). – Laurel Jan 12 '19 at 0:44
  • @laurel I did give "say" some thought, but concluded that the larger implication would include thinking. I'm not a fan of the word, but I'm not a fan of "preplanning" either. – Zan700 Jan 12 '19 at 1:18

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