Most of us have had the experience of stumbling over a new fact or bit of knowledge and then finding several more references to it in the near future. For example, you see a strange word which you're forced to look-up and then the next day the same word appears in the headline of your local paper. There's a term for this phenomenon but I've been unable to track it down. Can anyone help?

  • 1
    Great question. I've run into this phenomenon from time to time, and would love to know a word for it. Welcome to the site!
    – Jonik
    Nov 23, 2010 at 0:14
  • I'll add to this a statistician’s point of view: beware of the rare event
    – F'x
    Mar 15, 2011 at 8:46
  • Er, you posted "atavism" and "avatistic". Perhaps you meant "atavistic"?
    – MrHen
    Oct 25, 2013 at 16:44
  • For one thing, you can rest assured that this does not only happen to you. It is quite common to learn something, or see/hear of something, for the first time in your entire life, and then within a week, you’ll have seen it half a dozen times in the most unexpected places. I too have occasionally wondered whether this sort-of-kind-of-a-little-bit déjà vu-like phenomenon has a word, but I am not aware of one. Oct 25, 2013 at 16:49
  • I like "coincidence."
    – SAH
    Oct 6, 2016 at 3:54

6 Answers 6


I think you might be thinking of synchronicity.

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    He might also be looking for the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, not being able to track it down because Wikipedia no longer has an article on that term.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 23, 2010 at 9:50
  • I think that, despite what that deleted article says, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is just a type of synchronicity. But interesting find, thanks!
    – Marthaª
    Nov 23, 2010 at 14:25
  • @RegDwight: Sometimes the Wiki moves in mysterious ways... I noticed this deletion before and never understood the rationale behind it: at least it deserves a paragraph in Recency Effect or Synchronicity; the current disambiguation page doesn't explain it at all. Mar 14, 2011 at 16:59
  • RegDwight, I can offer you the bounty, but you've not commented.
    – n0nChun
    Mar 15, 2011 at 4:17

As others note, some call it the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon and it is somewhat close to synchronicity. It is also related to the recency effect. The psychological term for it seems to be the primacy effect or priming


It's called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. Read more on Damn Interesting.

  • now can I give myself this bounty :P
    – n0nChun
    Mar 14, 2011 at 16:37

That would be a form of confirmation bias. "Synchronicity" is a pop-psychology term.

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    No. Seeing something because you've recently seen it, is not the same as seeing things because it's what you expect. Apr 23, 2012 at 10:40
  • Frequency illusion is the psychological term you are looking for. Apr 23, 2012 at 10:45
  • It is not intrinsically a bias to encounter things in a cluster. There could be a cause leading to the increase. If you simply are paying attention to something that was already happening, but you are noticing it because you finally identified it, sure, that could be a biased perception, but that's hardly certain.
    – The Nate
    Jan 12, 2016 at 3:18

The "official" term is "frequency illusion."

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    Your answer would be improved if you told us more about the context(s) where "frequency illusion" and if you told us what agency considerers it "official." Dec 5, 2013 at 0:01

I have heard it referred to as 'Cognitive Resonance'. If you have recently heard about a new phenomenon you are more likely to notice it again. (and again, and again...)

But 'Frequency Illusion' is apparently the preferred name.

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