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?

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    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 '10 at 0:14
  • I'll add to this a statistician’s point of view: beware of the rare event – F'x Mar 15 '11 at 8:46
  • Er, you posted "atavism" and "avatistic". Perhaps you meant "atavistic"? – MrHen Oct 25 '13 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. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 25 '13 at 16:49
  • I like "coincidence." – SAH Oct 6 '16 at 3:54

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 '10 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 '10 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. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Mar 14 '11 at 16:59
  • RegDwight, I can offer you the bounty, but you've not commented. – n0nChun Mar 15 '11 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 '11 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. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 23 '12 at 10:40
  • Frequency illusion is the psychological term you are looking for. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 23 '12 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 '16 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." – Michael Owen Sartin Dec 5 '13 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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