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I'm looking for a word or phrase I think I've heard or seen, meaning something like, "a curious thing," but lighter, less forward. Like a passive observation one makes, of a handful of instances over a decade, but only lately worth acknowledging a pattern.

It's always been there, a ______, but ...

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  • A motif is 'a usually recurring salient thematic element (as in the arts) especially a dominant idea or central theme: Ms. Cisneros doesn't present too many nice guys here, and the perfidy of men is a motif in several of the stories. — Bebe Moore Campbell' [M-W]. 'Leitmotif', preferred by some, is largely synonymous. // 'Recurring theme' is perhaps the most idiomatic. 'A constant' also fits. 'Keeps cropping up' is verbal and informal. Nov 16, 2020 at 14:47
  • It’s always been there niggling at the back of my mind, but only recently have I ...
    – Jim
    Nov 16, 2020 at 16:52

2 Answers 2

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How about

a part of the furniture

Collins

If you describe someone or something as part of the furniture, you are suggesting that they have been somewhere such as their place of work for such a long time that it is hard to imagine that place without them.

which they say is [humorous, informal].

I would use as:

That funny looking statue over there, has it been there long or is it part of the furniture?

Something that has always been there, but you just never noticed it before.

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  • Not the one I remember, but that's a really creative one and I like it a lot. I like that the phrase itself feels like a part of the furniture. Nov 16, 2020 at 14:27
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"They've always been there, those fleeting moments of synchronicity/pause-worthy coincidence/subtle moments of perfect/uncanny coincidence, but ..."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity

Synchronicity is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.

uncanny

adjective having or seeming to have a supernatural or inexplicable basis; beyond the ordinary or normal; extraordinary: uncanny accuracy; an uncanny knack of foreseeing trouble. mysterious; arousing superstitious fear or dread; uncomfortably strange: Uncanny sounds filled the house.

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