I want to tell that something reminds/hint us of another thing. For example, in an application, a sorting method used in it has similarities to bubble sort but not completely the same. In this case, when reading about the sorting method used in the application reminds or hints me of, or brings to mind the idea of bubble sort. So, I tried to put this idea into a sentence this way:

The sorting method used in the application reminisces bubble sort.

But in this sentence, is the word reminisces used appropriately?

So I thought of phrasing it the other way:

The sorting method used in the application is a reminiscent of bubble sort.

I seldom hear the word reminiscent being used in this context and it sounds weird when I use it this way. Is it correct?

Since it also feels like a hint, I thought maybe I could use the word "allude":

The sorting method used in the application alludes bubble sort.

Here, again, alludes doesn't sound like a right word to use.

What word or way of phrasing should I use to get this idea across clearly?

  • I think you are looking for resemble.
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 16, 2012 at 13:31
  • 1
    "...is reminiscent of...", drop the 'a'.
    – Mitch
    Feb 16, 2012 at 13:37
  • @Mitch Thanks. Then would the sentence "The sorting method used in the application is reminiscent of bubble sort." be correct?
    – xenon
    Feb 16, 2012 at 13:53
  • @Mitch: Wonder why you have not chosen to post it as an answer. That would obviously be the right answer.
    – Kris
    Feb 16, 2012 at 15:00

5 Answers 5


Speaking as one with a background in both literary criticism and programming, I think OP's problem in finding le mot juste arises from the fact that he's mixing those two domains in a slightly unusual way.

Litcrit contexts often use expressions like alludes to, is evocative of, suggests, reminds us of, etc. - partly because they're slightly "vague", and encourage the reader to exercise his imagination.

In a technical context talking about how some particular sort algorithm relates to a bubble sort, I wouldn't expect to be told it's reminiscent thereof. Either it does share characteristics or it doesn't. And if it does, I'd want to know exactly how it's similar. If it doesn't, I'd rather not be told I should be seeing it in the same light.

In essence, I think OP should either accept RiMMER's suggestion resembles, or he shouldn't mention the bubble sort at all. If I'm not mistaken, RiMMER has a strong technical background, which is why he'd be biased towards using the "clinically correct" word here (if indeed there is a resemblance) rather than more creative metaphoric alternatives.

The only other thing to add is that "reminds me of a bubble sort" isn't necessarily inappropriate, provided OP is able and willing to identify specific shared characteristics of both algorithms.

  • +1: nice answer! Also, I'm honored you remember my technical background :)
    – Frantisek
    Feb 18, 2012 at 9:57

Resembles is your word, my friend!

(transitive) To be like or similar to (something); to represent as similar.


The sorting method used in the application resembles bubble sort.

  • Thanks! Resembles does tell that it has similarity but does it explicitly give the idea that bubble sort was bring to mind? I mean I know when we say it resembles something, automatically that something has to come into our mind before we resemble it but somehow this whole thing is kind of implicit. It's like reminisce on the other hand tells that "bring to mind" effect more obviously.
    – xenon
    Feb 16, 2012 at 13:50
  • @xEnOn Why do you have to emphasize the "bring to mind" thing so badly anyway? I think the word "resemble" says enough of your idea. Feb 16, 2012 at 13:54
  • @SpiritZhang You are right that "resemble" says enough. However, check the title of the OP.
    – Kris
    Feb 16, 2012 at 14:59
  • +1 My support for this answer was too long to fit into a comment! :) Feb 16, 2012 at 17:35

I think all that you're looking for is the correct use of 'reminiscent':

...is reminiscent of...

That is, 'reminiscent' is an djective, not a noun, so it does not take an article.

In your example:

The sorting method used in the application is reminiscent of bubble sort.

with the 'a' dropped.


I would simply go for simple forms involving inspire and remind, with inspire being especially suggestive of something springing to mind.

More pedestrian constructs, or at least less inspiring, could be formed using derive as the base verb — and more Olympian ones by referring to Athena springing full-formed from the mind of Zeus. :)

If it is a sudden, perhaps Archimedean breakthrough, you might even chance using eureka as a verb.

  • "The sorting method used in the application inspires bubble sort."? I don't think so. Feb 19, 2012 at 1:01
  • @FumbleFingers You've got the active/passive thing swapped. Surely you’ll agree that is inspired by makes fine sense.
    – tchrist
    Feb 19, 2012 at 1:05
  • If you mean "is inspired by" then I quite agree. In fact, so long as "by" is included, it's a very natural thing to say - but we would be talking about the authour of this sort algorithm having been inspired by bubble sort, not OP himself being "inspired/prompted" to think of bubble sort when he looked at this algorithm. Feb 19, 2012 at 1:08

I think, you may use suggest

suggest: to evoke (a person, thing, etc.) in the mind of someone by the association of ideas; To bring or call to mind by logic or association; evoke

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