What is the medical term for having déjà vu? (And what is the opposite sensation called?)

Déjà vu is that spooky feeling in which you feel like you have previously experienced something that is actually being encountered for the first time.

In French, the term literally means “already seen.” Déjà vu is often referred to as paramnesia, which is both “the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time” and also “a condition in which the proper meaning of words cannot be remembered.”

Have you ever stared at a word that you’ve seen thousands of times but that looks unfamiliar? This sensation is often described as the opposite of déjà vu. Jamais vu, is French for “never seen.” This psychology term is used to describe a familiar situation that the observer doesn’t recognize.

Déjà vu is also similar to a phenomenon called presque vu, or Tip of the Tongue. In French, the term means “almost seen.” It is a disorienting sensation of being on the brink of remembering something. When experiencing presque vu, people often say that they have something on the tip of their tongue.

Now, what do you call the state between waking and sleeping? (Here’s the answer.) And what do you call someone who wakes up in their own dreams? (Look here for that one.)


  1. Blog De moda Actual -  November 6, 2014 - 11:57 am

    Hola he leído tu post y es realmente divertido, a partir de hoy te sigo!!

  2. Cloverpaw -  November 21, 2013 - 5:31 am

    I’m always forgetting what deja vu means. I’ve experienced a form of it; it’s like, I’m in a certain situation and I feel like I’ve dreamed that situation before. What would you call that? Just the other night I could not for the life of me remember the name of that guy with the big red beard and mustache and the pistols from Loony Tunes. It wasn’t until the next morning I remembered his name is Yosemite Sam. I guess that’s presque vu.

    My name is Cloverpaw and I’m a ThunderClan apprentice. My mentor is Cinderheart. She’s the best. When I’m a warrior I’m going to be the best hunter in the forest.

    • RedLeafRenegade -  October 21, 2015 - 11:35 am

      I shall destroy the Thunderclan and their forests with the One Ring
      Now that I know your name, Cloverpaw, I shall be able to hunt you down like the creatures you hunt and destroy all you know and Imprison you >:)
      Then none shall be able to get in the way of my Ultimate Triumph

      One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them
      One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them

      -Lord of the Ring: Book 1: Fellowship of the Ring

  3. OnceInABlueMoon -  April 22, 2012 - 12:59 pm

    That strange-looking clock kind of invokes deja vu…..I don’t know what it was though. It just gives me an eerie feeling…..

  4. AFFRIGHT | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  October 29, 2010 - 9:29 am

    [...] in a different ERA — the same “TREPIDATION” holds true today with a quote from Yogi Berra — “It’s like DEJA VU all over again.” — not meant to be a [...]

  5. Prashanth -  October 25, 2010 - 12:07 am

    I have experienced deja vu too. And one common jamais vu situation is I sometimes totally forget the spelling of “with”. I misspell it as “wiht”. Not a typo but….

  6. so many agendum to keep up -  September 9, 2010 - 4:50 am

    Years back I read a comment that one teenager posting his commnet that he did not want to reconcider his career at the age of 40, and I thought that that could be true.

    It would be easy to pack and leave for a new life at the age of 20, but I wonder what it would take to do that for one after two decades after.

  7. I scarcely catch up with my homework -  September 9, 2010 - 4:33 am

    Come out come out wherever you are!

  8. LABOR DAY | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 8, 2010 - 2:53 pm

    [...] MOBS that keep the score on — who should have the power and who should pay the dues. — “The future ain’t what it used to be “ — Never take a HIKE in white shoes.–>>Rupert [...]

  9. ROSH HASHANA | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 8, 2010 - 11:38 am

    [...] Affair” or “Take a Hike” if you want to. — “It’s “Deja Vu” All over again.” — “Tradition” doesn’t need no more red [...]

  10. DEJA VU | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 8, 2010 - 8:45 am

    [...] Deja Vu “ALL OVER AGAIN”” said the great Yogi Berra.” — like the feeling of having been there again and [...]

  11. To J.D. from K.I. -  September 8, 2010 - 6:31 am

    I don’t get deja vu lately but had ones more than a few times when younger–a feeling that a very familiar image run through my mind was from so distant back in the past but its sensation tells me that has just happened a moment ago for the first time.

    If one is caught up with the past, then deja vu comes upon one with a litte grip. One would be advised to extricate oneself from a twilight zone!

  12. wazzup pplz -  September 7, 2010 - 9:47 am

    me too, it happens during my sleep, i’ll get the picture of the future then it happens later on..

  13. Bob -  September 6, 2010 - 11:12 am

    I experience déjà vu often.

  14. Juan Carlos -  September 6, 2010 - 9:41 am

    I feel like i have already experineced deja vu

  15. Archer -  September 6, 2010 - 9:12 am

    Here’s a different twist on deja vu that I came across a number of years ago. To me it’s a legitimate alternative viewpoint. We all know that the majority of we humans have a left and right hemisphere of the brain, the hemispheres being “seperated” by the Corpus Collosum – a network of nerves and tissue. There was a study done about 15 years ago by two undergrads’, here is a brief description of their study on deja vu. There are times when some of us have “entered” a room or experienced some other event for the first time, for all intents and purposes I will stick with the “room”. When the room is “entered” we visually take it in seemingly simotaniously by the left and right eye and relayed to the visual cortex – their premise is this – the left may record (memory) the event a micro second before the right or the opposite may occur – right may record (memory) the event a micro second before the left. Either way there is the distinct possibilty that the split second has allowed “memory” of the event to occur. Let’s say the left side “saw” the room the split second before the right – as the left stimuli has entered and been recorded the right stimuli is just being recorded. Here in lies the rub – the right stimuli “clashes” with the already recorded left. This micro second split of memory may give the person the illusion of being in this room before. I hope you find this as interesting. I’m not positive on this but this article may have been in an old issue od Scientific American.

  16. Néstor Mtz -  September 6, 2010 - 8:40 am

    A déjà vu happens when the Matrix had been changed.

  17. Catherine -  September 6, 2010 - 7:23 am

    I usually do not like to be an alarmist, but I had intense Déjà vu for ten years. Turns out I had a benign brain tumor (oops)…I was told that tiny siezures in the brain cause that familiar sense of having done something before. Boo-hoo. Anyhow, I am fine now (knock on wood!).

  18. Nikki the second -  September 6, 2010 - 7:04 am

    What is spooky and sickening is someone who is closely after others log records and memory. Spookikiki.^0^

  19. Scott -  September 6, 2010 - 6:46 am

    What if you have previously experienced it?

  20. SweetPretzel -  September 6, 2010 - 6:36 am


  21. Nikki -  September 6, 2010 - 5:30 am

    And that brings the point that if you want to let us know about this illness, don’t make us HAVE it!

  22. Nikki -  September 6, 2010 - 5:28 am

    The clock just looks scary and spooky! Makes me feel like I have déjà vu myself! Oh, Dictionary.com, don’t make me feel sick with déjà vu by your article – actually the image!

  23. boo! -  September 6, 2010 - 4:25 am

    My comments have deleted! How come?

  24. boo! -  September 6, 2010 - 4:23 am

    I guess you dig the second one but not the first.

  25. a lazy worker -  September 6, 2010 - 4:21 am

    I wonder what to call a person who tries to be inconsistent to be consistent. A TA at my 247 philosophy class at Stony Brook years back told the class the name of Marcel DuChamp–a twisted hermaphorodite, that is what I come up with at best.

  26. a honest worker -  September 6, 2010 - 4:02 am

    When one wakes up from a dream, one would think that life is mystery.

  27. Evelina -  September 6, 2010 - 2:05 am

    I just say that in Chinese words ,when we encounter some one .the word may probably become unfamilar~`
    Strange psychologicalphenomenon.

  28. Anshu -  September 6, 2010 - 1:25 am

    This is exactly true.. Ya this happens with me often.. Can some one please help me to understand this situation.

  29. Alan Turner -  September 6, 2010 - 12:19 am

    This morning my wife said to me “Do you believe in premonitions?” I replied that I did not. She then said ” I saw both our mothers last night, I cuddled my own mother and never felt so peaceful in all my life.” (both mothers are deceased.)
    Is that Deja vu?
    Nonsense I feel.

  30. shahir -  September 6, 2010 - 12:07 am

    i experience déjà vu all the time…..

  31. Faith -  September 5, 2010 - 10:06 pm

    uuuuuuuuuuuuuuh ok?

  32. Saf -  September 5, 2010 - 8:57 pm

    Which begs the question (as long as we’re being silly), I suppose, of why a perjurer isn’t called a pergeon.

  33. Saf -  September 5, 2010 - 8:55 pm

    A thaumaturge works thaumaturgy, a surgeon doesn’t work surgy. If they did, they’d be called surgists. >_>

  34. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  September 5, 2010 - 6:49 pm

    I prefer to call it, déjà prévu,– Comes from watching a few minutes of a movie before deciding it’s not worth it but then wondering how much of it I previewed last time before deciding it was -then- not worth it….

    What do you call, re-re-re-reading a paragraph to get the right sense of it, until you can’t even focus on a single phrase to clear that much…?

    And, What’s the word for knowing that that can’t be the right spelling and therefor refusing to look it up because it won’t help?- Corpuscular and crepuscular are very different and you know you’ve seen one before.

    Also, I looked-up the other-word, oneironaut, but don’t find the meaning of waking-up in one’s dreams, that is until you realize: that you’re not really awake and then wake-up and see that you were inches-away from the same position you dreamt you were awake in! (Oops: trailing preposition)

    This mode is often accompanied by ‘seeing’ sunbeams or even the sun-disk but in reality you should never look directly at the sun….

    THAT’S A BUG in the definition, I think.

    And lastly– Howcome a thaumaturge is not a thaumaturgeon, like, surgeon?


  35. blogger -  September 5, 2010 - 5:30 pm

    I just call it forgetting.

  36. pooie -  September 5, 2010 - 5:07 pm


  37. Franco -  September 5, 2010 - 4:59 pm

    Vu Ja De


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