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Late 14th century, "state or fact of forgetting," from Old French oblivion (13th century) and directly from Latin oblīviōnem (forgetfulness; a being forgotten), from oblīvīscī (forget), originally "even out, smooth over, efface," from ob- (over) + root of lēvis (smooth), from Proto-Indo-European *lei-w-, from root *(s)lei- (slime, slimy, sticky) (see slime (noun)). Meaning "state of being forgotten" is early 15th century.


obliviate (third-person singular simple present obliviates, present participle obliviating, simple past and past participle obliviated)

  1. (transitive) To forget; to wipe from existence.
    • 1811, George Grennell
      Time has not yet obliviated the veneration of our jacobins for France, while she was seething with faction and blood []

Related terms[edit]