Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Usage & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The idiomatic phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is a popular idiom used to express the idea that if something is not visible or present, it’s easily forgotten about or even purposely ignored. The phrase originated in the 1500s, and it’s one we all use to this day. I’m sure you’ve used it before, but do you know the actual meaning? Let’s take a look!

The Origin of the Common Phrase

The origin of the phrase out of sight, out of mind” is not totally clear to me, but it’s thought to have originated from the simple idea that if something isn’t tangibly present, then it’s more difficult to think about or remember it. It’s like the junk drawer in the kitchen.

It can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who wrote that “memory is the residue of thought.” He said what we remember boils down to what we pay attention to, and if something isn’t directly in front of us, then we probably won’t remember it.

What Does the Phrase Out of Sight, Out of Mind Even Mean?

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I could go into detail and make this more complicated than it needs to be, but it basically means that if something isn’t right in front of you, then it’s easier to just ignore it or pretend it doesn’t even exist. We do it all the time with things we can’t deal with or stuff that we want to put off until another time.

I think it’s worth noting that the phrase is sometimes used as a warning. It means that if something is not kept in focus, it can be forgotten. It also implies that one should pay attention to things and not let them slip away.

How Do You Use Out of Sight, Out of Mind Properly?

So, we already know it’s used as an idiomatic expression, and it is usually in informal or conversational contexts. You’ll often see it in the form of a statement, a question, or some advice, whether in written or spoken form. I’ve also seen the phrase often used in the negative sense, as a warning, to remind others to pay attention to important things and not to let them slip away.

How Do You Use Out of Sight, Out of Mind in a Sentence?

  • I threw those bills in the junk drawer for now. Out of sight, out of mind. I’ll deal with them later.
  • After the breakup, he moved away, and she realized that out of sight, out of mind, she couldn’t stop thinking about him.
  • The company decided to outsource its customer service department and soon realized that out of sight, out of mind, they were losing customers.

Use the Phrase Wisely

“Out of sight, out of mind”; you definitely know we all use this popular idiom today. It expresses the idea that something is easily forgotten or ignored if it is not visible or present. You can use it negatively and positively; it just depends on the context.