What do you call a device that lets you talk telepathically with other people? I know that this doesn't exist yet, but it does in the realm of science fiction. Such a device that connects your brain to other people brain, what are they called? I presume there might be fictional coined terms, but I would like to have a generic word I can use in almost any context.


1 Answer 1


Interestingly enough, this is not entirely fiction any more. There are various terms for technologies which connect a human brain to an external device:

  • brain–computer interface (BCI)
  • neural-control interface (NCI)
  • mind-machine interface (MMI)
  • direct neural interface (DNI)
  • brain–machine interface (BMI)

Some of these communicate in the opposite direction, sending signals back into the brain, such as various experimental devices that create a limited sort of vision for blind people.

In theory, therefore, these devices can allow what is called synthetic telepathy, where two humans communicate mind-to-mind via a computer. Such a device could be called anything, but the general category of these devices will probably be based on one of the above terms, such as a direct neural interface.

Over in the magical word, J.K. Rowling coined the term legilimency to describe spells to read minds. The term is loosely derived from the Latin legere ("to read") and mens ("mind").

Similarly she invented a device to show other people's memories called the pensieve, which is a play on words combining pensive (meaning "deep in thought") and sieve (a device to sift wanted material from unwanted material)

Of course, we can speculate endlessly about possible terms. For example, writers often use the verb "cast" to describe the act of sending telepathic thoughts to someone else, so an author might call a device to do this a telecaster. However, this might be confusing, since telecast is already a word (meaning "to transmit by television") and telecaster is the name of a semi-famous model of electric guitar.

(Although if you're going to play with Greek prefixes like tele- you could keep going and coin the term telegnosticator with gnostos loosely meaning "think/know" and -ator a common suffix for devices. Disclaimer: I have no formal education in Greek, so I'm probably horribly wrong and another root would be better, like skepsis. But you get the idea.)

So, you would also have to take into consideration whether your chosen appellation has already been taken by something else. This, by the way, is why many technology companies seem to have "nonsense" names like Google (actually a deliberate misspelling of the word "googol") because these can be unique and therefore easier to trademark.

Moreover, any new word might have associations to other words, based on common roots or common sounds. A teleskepticon might be meaningful (in horrible Greek, I apologize again) but in English "skepticism" implies doubt more than it implies thought. Meanwhile, in various cultural references, the suffix -con might make people think of the Panopticon, an architectural design and symbol for government surveillance. Naturally, this could sound perfect if your communication device also allowed the government to listen in and possibly record all telepathic communication.


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