In a Word

n. the inability to remember a word

In her 1989 textbook Cognition, psychologist Margaret Matlin notes that most people who read the definitions below find it hard to summon the words they refer to. How many can you name? I’ll give the answers tomorrow.

  1. An absolute ruler, a tyrant.
  2. A stone having a cavity lined with crystals.
  3. A great circle of the earth passing through the geographic poles and any given point on the earth’s surface.
  4. Worthy of respect or reverence by reason of age and dignity.
  5. Shedding leaves each year, as opposed to evergreen.
  6. A person appointed to act as a substitute for another.
  7. Five offspring born at a single birth.
  8. A special quality of leadership that captures the popular imagination and inspires unswerving allegiance.
  9. The red coloring matter of the red blood corpuscles.
  10. Flying reptile that was extinct at the end of the Mesozoic era.
  11. A spring from which hot water, steam, or mud gushes out at intervals, found in Yellowstone National Park.
  12. The second stomach of a bird, which has thick, muscular walls.
  13. The green coloring matter found in plants.
  14. The long-haired wild ox of central Asia, often domesticated as a beast of burden.
  15. The art of speaking in such a way that the voice seems to come from another place.
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