Remember What’s Her Name?

Aug 6, 2022 | inspiration, Writing

We’ve all done it. Tip of the tongue. Huh? I know I know that word. You are telling a story, and suddenly the word stumps you. Oh my, is this the first sign of dementia? Let’s put you at ease right away.

The good news? Tip of the Tongue happens to everyone, and it doesn’t mean you’re losing your memory. And with some work, the words will return to you; you just need to remind yourself. So keep it active! And don’t freak out. Besides, sometimes describing the word you’re looking for is better for your language brain anyway – and more fun! *

I once heard a young lawyer say in court, “your honor, you know that thing we file?” The judge suggested maybe it’s a motion.“Yes, that’s what I mean, a motion.” I have done this all my life, but now I get funny looks as I age. This is why I prefer writing rather than speaking. If I am writing, I can take some deep breaths, go do something else, and it will come to me. Here are some tips that may work for you.

When I was writing law school exams, I often forgot a word. I could not use another word because it required the right legal word. At that time, we wrote in bluebooks (remember those?). I often knew how long the word was and would leave a space knowing it would come to me as I wrote a few more lines. Try it. It really does work. You can even do this as you type.  

Now with technology, it is easier to do my writing. I go to Dr. Google. If you can think of a word almost the same, write that word and that you want a similar word. Nearly 100% of the time, the right word will magically pop up, and there you are. If it is a person, you can describe the person. Woman actor in The Way We Were. Barbara Streisand will appear. I promise. Movie name? Same thing. Describe it. I love Dr. Google for that purpose.

Before you have to look it up, take a deep breath, walk around the house, and drink a beverage. 

(Water probably helps the brain). The word will magically pop up most of the time. In-person you can describe the word. If you panic because you can’t remember, it will only worsen. Just describe it, and your listener will help you.  

Introductions can be tricky. I love name tags, but they are too often too small, and I have to lean in to read them. If I am with a friend, I ask them to please help me out by introducing themselves first. The other person will then introduce themselves, and you all smile. It may seem embarrassing at first, but the person you introduce won’t notice, and you can thank your friend for their kindness.

My most embarrassing TOT (that’s what they are called, “tip of your tongue”) was when I had a new associate at my law firm. I took him to court with me, and as we approached the bench, I COULDN’T REMEMBER HIS NAME! The judge asked me who he was, and I stumbled. He finally introduced himself, and I never heard the last of it.

Finally, do not doubt yourself. You are not failing. It really does happen to most people. Maybe they hide it better than you.  

Here is an article you may find helpful, although it contradicts what I just said about looking the word up.

Hope you have an ______________ day. Hope you have an auspicious day. See, that’s how it works? *

I do not remember the names of any of these people from my 19th birthday party.

Karin Quirk


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