I'm looking for a term for a curious situation that I've found myself in a couple of times.

  • A person discusses a new concept/invention.

I am a part of that conversation or simply overhear it.

  • I think 'wow, what a great idea, I wish I'd thought of that!'.

  • I subsequently discover that I misinterpreted their concept/invention and to my surprise 'my' idea has merit in excess of theirs (more generalized applications of the solution, orders of magnitude more efficient, a complete 90deg turn in logic and/or reapplication of concepts in a new setting, or just plain cooler, for example)

Is there a term for this seemingly out of the blue inspiration?

A kind of mental catalyst?

I am of the belief that it is more my idea than the other person's, but in attempting to catalogue the life experiences that gave me the building blocks to make that unconscious conceptual leap, I'm often left wanting.

I am not looking for basic synonyms of 'inspiration' or 'epiphany'. Hopefully something more attuned to the specific circumstances I've described.

It's possible no such term or phrase exists.

(A tangential example of a more specific term would be 'staircase wit', which relates to the predicament of thinking of a perfect reply, but too late.)

  • 'A bolt out of the blue', building on your phrase, meets the requirement to stress the unexpected. Nov 6 at 23:02
  • @EdwinAshworth I'm hoping that there's something specific to this occurance. While you're right that it may feel like a bolt out the blue, that can also be said about surprising but unrelated events Nov 7 at 0:51
  • 'take the ball and run with it' Nov 7 at 1:31
  • @HippoSawrUs that describes a lucky event that you can take advantage of. While it applies, it's not exclusive to this situation. Nov 7 at 1:36
  • @Lmar Latrell - No, that's not what it means. It means "to further develop or expand upon an idea or plan to its fullest potential" (TFD, idioms). It's a football analogy. Nov 8 at 0:48

1 Answer 1


While this term seems idiomatic enough to have many google results, I'm finding exactly one definition that I'm not writing myself...

creative spark - an intangible talent or method that allows an individual to create significant non-obvious value at a point in time. This is an elusive element of thought and work that is the difference between creating obvious work items with regular value and revolutionizing something to create unusual value

Or, just

spark - to kindle, animate, or stimulate (interest, activity, spirit, etc.)

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