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senior moment

noun [countable]

a brief period when someone, especially an elderly person, is unable to remember something

Here's a humorous little anecdote I found on the Internet which nicely illustrates the idea of a senior moment:

A True Senior Moment

An elderly couple had dinner at another couple's house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen.

The two elderly gentlemen were talking, and one said, 'Last night we went out to a new restaurant, and it was really great. I'd recommend it very highly.'

The other man said, 'What's the name of the restaurant?'

The first man thought and thought and finally said, 'What's the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know … the one that's red and has thorns.'

'Do you mean a rose?'

'Yes,' the man said, then he turned toward the kitchen and yelled, 'Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?'


the term highlights the idea that our brains simply weren't built to cope with the information overload … of the 21st century

The term senior moment was coined in America in the mid-nineties, but has become more widely used in the UK during the past couple of years. Originating with specific reference to seniors or senior citizens – people aged sixty or over – it has now entered more general use and can be applied in any situation where someone experiences a momentary lapse of memory, regardless of their age.

The term highlights the idea that our brains simply weren't built to cope with the information overload and stress generated by life in the 21st century. An absent-minded activity, like putting cornflakes in the fridge or milk in the cupboard, can also be referred to as a senior moment.

Online pharmaceutical retailers, e.g. drugstore.com, even advertise a drug called 'Senior Moment'. This is intended to combat the condition and is marketed for 'adults of all ages'. Senior Moment® liquid-filled capsules contain chemicals which '… protect against the breakdown of the brain's cellular structure and support optimal memory function'.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 26th May 2003.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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