Suppose at some point during a meeting or even a casual conversation your mind wandered off and you stopped listening. Then suddenly someone asks you a question. You want to let them know you've been thinking about something else for a moment and haven't been following, really.

I would say something like "sorry, I was/got lost in thought" but it seems too formal and even awkward.

What are the options (and is the one proposed above valid)?

2 Answers 2


Putting the question of politeness aside, there are a number of idiomatic ways to describe this kind of lapse of attention.

Sorry, ...

I was daydreaming.

My mind was wandering.

I was thinking about {something else}

I was going over in my mind ...

I must have drifted off there ... (sleepiness)

I missed what was said there. It just dawned on me that ... (e.g. I forgot to turn off the oven)

"I was lost in thought" is valid.


What's that? (a very British locution in this context)

What..what? (a very American one...)

Um, come again?

I am not sure I got your point. (Slyly implying that you were listening, but they did not express themselves clearly.)

So yeah, sure, I guess... you were saying?

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