Daily Archives: October 3, 2011

Semantic Satiation Semantic Satiation Semantic Satiation Semantic Satiation

What do some of your favorite public librarians and Zippy the Pinhead have in common? They all enjoy semantic satiation (not muu-muus, thank you very much, at least not for this public librarian).

semantic satiation n. A peculiar sense of loss of meaning that occurs when a word is recited slowly 15 or 20 times in succession. 1

Here is an excellent example for you. To Mr. Griffith (and his legal team), I’ll be more than happy to remove this image if you have any objections.   

recidivism Reversion to an undesirable behavior pattern, such as committing another criminal offense after punishment or becoming drug-dependent again after an apparent cure of addiction. 2

And what words do we like to repeat? Ones that pop up frequently include “Yemen,” “Rococo,” and, erm, “semantic satiation.” Well, I also enjoy “brick tong,” but that doesn’t appear in our library catalog.





And in case you were wondering, this is a brick tong.

Brick tongs help you carry many bricks at once. They are mighty handy. Photograph courtesy of me and my dad's shed.

What words and phrases get stuck in your head?

– Amy

1 “semantic satiation” n.  A Dictionary of Psychology. Edited by Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  12 September 2011 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t87.e7462&gt;

2 “recidivism” A Dictionary of Public Health. Ed. John M. Last, Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. 12 September 2011 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t235.e3825&gt;


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