It feels like it happens more frequently with each passing week. I am humming a long in a conversation and my brain hits a brick wall – what is that word? It isn’t unusual. I use it all the time. Great, I am going senile. The New York Times brought this interesting information to us from their article, “Why You Can’t Think of the Word That’s on the Tip of Your Tongue.”

Researchers call it a tip-of-the-tongue state, that agonizing moment when you know precisely what you want to say but you fail to produce the word or phrase. Fortunately, it isn’t a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These moments are simply part of the way we communicate, and they are fairly universal. However, there are groups of words that trigger this more than others. Proper names are one of those categories. One reason might be that proper names are arbitrary links to the people they represent. People with the same name don’t possess the same semantic information the way that common nouns or words do.

The only tip for reducing these events is to keep in mind that using certain words or names more often can make you less likely to draw a blank at the crucial moment.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.