What does “that sticks” mean in the following line?

What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient. . . highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood. . . that sticks right in there somewhere.
Source: IMDB, Quotes for Dominic Cobb (Character) from Inception (2010)

1 Answer 1


"Stick" as an intransitive verb (scroll down to Definition #2):

  1. to remain in a place, situation, or environment
  2. to hold fast or adhere resolutely; cling
  3. to remain effective

Similar to how a "sticky note" can be used to keep an idea in 1 place on paper, the sentence means that the complete, understood idea manages to remain in your brain.

Or, perhaps that it's a good enough, complete enough, and clear enough idea to stick around over time.

  • +1 I think it might help the OP even better if it's pointed out that the OP's example is not a complete sentence. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 18:55
  • I’ve updated the question to include the full quote. I think it would help to mention that that “that” refers back to the subject “idea”. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 20:45
  • Had no idea it was a quote ... Will edit this later to clarify. Good catch!
    – mc01
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 22:26

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