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I've been working on a research problem for several weeks. The details aren't important, but basically I've been trying all kinds of advanced math and physics tricks to solve a particular system. Then this morning I realized that the solution was literally as simple as rotating my picture of the system by 90 degrees, and it works with no additional tricks.

Enter, a strange combination of excitement/relief that I finally have the answer and frustration/embarrassment that I didn't think of it sooner.

When I went to describe it to someone, I realized how odd it is that I have no word/phrase for that feeling, considering how universal it seems to be. Everyone has had those moments where you realize that you've just been completely blind to something that seems like it should have been obvious.

Sample sentence: "I was looking for my sunglasses for ten minutes; when I realized they were on my head, I felt so <word>!"

I searched on thesaurus.com for synonyms of:

  • embarrassed
  • excited
  • frustrated
  • relieved
  • satisfied

In particular, I didn't find anything that bridges the positives and the negatives of this particular emotion. If such a word or phrase exists, I'd love to know what it is!

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  • 3
    Descriptions are hard. But what you say when that happens is what Homer says on The Simpsons. It's hard to spell, but easy to say: "D'oh! Jun 8 at 19:56
  • 1
    In research this is often a "eureka moment" or "light bulb moment", when you suddenly realize the solution to a problem. But that's usually for something clever, not when the solution was obvious and you just missed it.
    – Barmar
    Jun 8 at 20:00
  • "I felt so stupid" or "I felt such an idiot" would be common in this circumstance.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 8 at 20:26
  • I realized I was just too organized. The term captures that what I searched for was there all along staring me in the face, but the correctness or simplicity was unexpected. Because too organized. Jun 8 at 20:36
  • For those who admit to talking to themselves, I usually call myself and "idiot" with an odd sense of victory and satisfaction. That being said, it seems "d'oh" IS now a real word since 2001 (and a lot of people use it).
    – user22542
    Jun 8 at 20:36

4 Answers 4

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I felt so relieved and embarrassed.

This expresses precisely the combination of feelings you described.

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  • Absent a single-word descriptor, I think this is probably the best wording. Jun 14 at 16:57
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The solution was "staring you in the face all along"

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-thesaurus/stare-someone-in-the-face

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"I was looking for my sunglasses for ten minutes; when I realized they were on my head, I felt so sheepish."

looking or feeling embarrassed because you have done something silly or wrong.

They were obviously a little bit sheepish about the misunderstanding.

[Oxford Learner's Dictionary]

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In many cases this would be your Eureka moment

Merriam Webster
eureka moment:
a moment of sudden, triumphant discovery, inspiration, or insight

… he would later tell, over and over, the story of how the idea for the collection came to him—the Eureka moment—improving it with each rendition. — Donald Dale Jackson, Smithsonian, October 1988

Then one day, listening to a Communist fulminator in Pioneer Square, he'd had a eureka moment in which he realized that the way to get ahead in his new country was to exploit some labor himself. — Jonathan Franzen, Freedom, 2010

Wikipedia has it as:

Wikipedia
The eureka effect (also known as the Aha! moment or eureka moment) refers to the common human experience of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept.

Eureka (Ancient Greek: εὕρηκα) is an interjection used to celebrate a discovery or invention. It is a transliteration of an exclamation attributed to Ancient Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes.

Such occasions are epiphanic

MacMillan
epiphanic
relating to or typical of a moment when you suddenly realize or understand something important

from the noun epiphany

Merriam Webster
epiphany
a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something;
an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking;
an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure;
a revealing scene or moment

So you might say "It was my Eureka moment", "It was an epiphany for me" or (less likely to be widely understood) "I was epiphanic"

These words largely relate to the positive aspects. More neutral would be to describe the moment as a revelation, or the realisation as revelatory.

Cambridge
revelatory:
making something known or showing something that was previously secret
It was a revelatory moment when I realized that there were other people who watched the show

If you felt embarrassed about missing such an obvious thing you might say “I felt such a numpty.”

Cambridge
Numpty:
A stupid or silly person

Scotslanguage
Numpty:
“a foolish person”
Numpty is such a useful word that it has been adopted by the rest of Britain and has its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary where it’s given the label “British slang, originally Scots”.

(That is how I feel about taking so long to develop this answer to its now obvious conclusion)

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  • I was tempted to suggest frivolously the contemporary "I was like wow!" but suspected that it was not specific to your question and that it would be a little difficult to justify here. So I went for the longer answer ...
    – Anton
    Jun 8 at 21:41
  • "Eureka Moment"? — Archimedes shouted " Eureka" when he found some astounding scientific fact. Bit of a stretch for this case.
    – user405662
    Jun 9 at 6:55
  • @ermanen you are correct. Thankyou.I have added what I should have included.
    – Anton
    Jun 9 at 7:12
  • But where's the embarassment? Jun 10 at 5:47
  • @aparente001 it is right here! As you will see in the last part of my revised answer. Thanks. (I feel a numpty for taking so long to develop this answer to its now obvious conclusion)
    – Anton
    Jun 10 at 7:15

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