• The remembering of things from a supposed previous existence (often used with reference to Platonic philosophy).
  • (Medicine) A patient’s account of a medical history.

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Example Sentences

“Yolanda didn’t believe in anamnesis, so the mysterious memories must have been from her childhood.”

“The nurse collected Mr. Collins’ anamnesis while the doctor continued his checkup.”

“Julian had the oddest feeling he was experiencing anamnesis and wondered who he may have been in a past life.”

Word Origin

Greek, late 16th century

Why this word?

Although it sounds similar to the word “amnesia,” “anamnesis” has a different meaning, which is reflected in the words’ opposite roots. “Amnesia,” the term for a partial or total loss of memory, comes from the Greek “amnēsia,” meaning “forgetfulness.” “Anamnesis,” meanwhile, derives from the Greek “anamnēsis,” which adds a prefix to give the opposite meaning, “remembrance.” Experiencing déjà vu — the intense feeling of having experienced something before — is sometimes attributed to anamnesis, but it likely has a more practical explanation. Researchers believe déjà vu can generally be attributed to one of a few different explanations: a minor brain “glitch” wherein short-term memories are confused with long-term memories, a memory that someone doesn’t properly recall, or a dream or other subconscious experience.

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