“It’s on the Tip of my Tongue”


Dear Reader:

Isn’t one of the most exasperating annoyances (that start occurring as we age) forgetting names and words?

When I looked up the reasons for this common frustration…it deals with harmones, aging glands, and several other technical, medical problems that are best left alone…but to summarize…everything is starting to dry up or slow down in its function of getting the “right stuff” to the brain  on time.

One of the most commonly heard expressions is “It was just on the tip of my tongue!”  So I thought it would be kinda fun to look up the origin….Nothing much appeared on the nationality of the origin because in almost every country…the expression can be found…it is an universal problem.

 The origin of this expression appears to be connected simply to the fact that we use our tongues to speak with, and it conjures up an image of a word or phrase being literally on the tongue, at the front of the mouth, ready to leap out in words as soon as the speaker’s memory is jogged.

When I got to that part of the definition I could visualize it quite well. I remember one summer trying to get up enough nerve to go off the high dive….only to have some goofy boy behind me….walk out and push me off. I was furious…but I, also, discovered that I wasn’t afraid to jump or dive off the high diving board any more.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a friend could thump us on our back when our memory bank fails us…thus releasing the word or name (off the tip of our tongue) back into the conversation?

Did you know that there is actually a word for this common occurrence? It is called LETHOLOGICA.

“The word “lethologica” describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.”

It would be kinda cool the next time I have a “senior moment” recalling a word… if I could stop and say: ” I apologize but but I am suffering from lethologica.”  The only problem is- I would never be able to remember the term lethologica.…so that idea would fall pretty flat.

One suggestion (from a group of medical “specialists”) for curing “lethologica” suggested that the speaker  define the word he/she can’t recall and let others help him/her identify it.

I can see this becoming quite annoying for the others at the table….it would be like playing word charades.

I might say: “I can hardly wait until Saturday to see the grandchildren all dressed up, in their costumes,  go ….. go….hummm…. go …you know… walking around to other people’s houses asking for candy?”  

Trick or Treating?….”Yes thank you…how embarrassing…the perils of aging gray matter grow stronger each year.”

Having “lethologica” is sometimes disturbing…but after cancer…it really is just a little annoyance. In fact…the way I look at it now…it simply means that we have lived long enough to have earned this trivial “bump” along our time-line.

We, recall word sufferers of a certain age, should be able to wear a large button on our shirt or blouse that says:


So until tomorrow….Don’t worry about forgetting words…just never forget “The Word.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Poor little Jakie has been having tummy problems…nothing major…but just enough to prevent him from attending pre-school…so I went over to keep him yesterday and we had so much fun….will show you more photos tomorrow….but here’s to Jakie!

( The only time I don’t have to worry about forgetting a phrase…“I love you” is with the grandchildren- Jakie, Eva Cate, Rutledge, and Lachlan!)

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About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to “It’s on the Tip of my Tongue”

  1. Johnny Johnson says:

    I often wondered if it was just me or if this was a common problem, lethologica. Now I know everyone goes through it. It is frustrating though when you know that you know the name or the word but it just won’t pop out of your mouth because it won’t pop into your brain. Now I can tell everyone I have lethologica! Lol!
    I hope Jakie’s starts feeling better!

  2. Becky Dingle says:

    Isn’t it wonderful to find an excuse for forgetfulness….salvages some dignity in the problem.

  3. Pam says:

    Well, I’m glad I’m not alone in suffering from lethologica. And all this time I thought it was CRS.

  4. Becky Dingle says:

    Love problems with cool, long names….makes our “mental mush” episodes sound cooler than they are!

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