For example:

A: When you add 1 to 45235, you will get 45235
B: You mean 45236
A: Oops, yes. It's 45236

What is the word describes that state of mind when you know what you intend to say, but cannot recall the exact word, or say it differently or wrongly?

7 Answers 7


Jason is correct that "careless" and "sloppy" are possibilities.

"Absentminded" is another possibility.

If the person does not notice their mistake, or ignores the mistake if it is pointed out, the person is "blithe" or "oblivious". For example, one might say that someone "blithely carried on" after making a mistake. "Blithe" is a rare word; "blithely" and "oblivious" are fairly common.

"Reckless" is a legal term. Someone who is "reckless" may be held legally liable for their carelessness.

"A slip" is a technical term for a mistake where you mean to do one thing, but accidentally "slip" into a routine that results in doing something else.

The Design of Everyday Things discusses common mistakes, and how the way things are made can make it easier or harder to make a mistake.

  • 1
    Colloquially, "scatterbrained" is also used :)
    – Ming
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 4:38
  • Which word should I use in formal context?
    – Ooker
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 11:13
  • 1
    "Careless" and "reckless" have formal legal meanings. In non-legal contexts, "absentminded" and "oblivious" are more polite than "careless" and "reckless". Phrases like "blithely carried on" are less formal. "Sloppy" and "slipped up" are even less formal. Beyond "slipped up" are euphemisms for cuss words. The cuss words are even less formal than the euphemisms. If you start swearing formal oaths about how absentminded someone is, you can wrap all the way back to very formal.
    – Jasper
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 15:36

Would careless or sloppy work for you?

  • I know what you mean, it's when your brain says A but your mouth says B and you don't know why your mouth didn't say what you really meant. I'm not sure there's a word for that.
    – Jason S
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 19:11

"Error-prone" is a good one, but I will also give some votes above.


I have noticed that, very informally. to have a brainfart/brain fart" seems to be getting quite common. Here is Wikipedia's explanation.


This is called a "slip of the tongue" or a "lapsus linguae". The former expression is quite common; the latter very rare.

From http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/slip-of-the-tongue -

something that you say by accident when you intended to say something else:

which is almost exactly what you asked for.

I don't know whether there's any particular word for the mental state that leads to making such slips.


It is often referred to as a "senior moment".

see Urban Dictionary

Note it is not necessarily age-related


I don't know if it fits your question but you should look up for "rookie mistake"

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