Deja Vu Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Do you know the meaning of deja vu? The Word Counter’s got you covered. Keep reading to discover the word deja vu’s definition, origin, and more.

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Wait, have we done this before? Have we written this same article in the past? Haven’t we researched this exact topic to write about it already? No? Oh, it must be déjà vu.

Déjà Vu isn’t just a great song by Olivia Rodrigo. Read on as we explore the word deja vu to uncover its definition, origin, and more. 

What Is the Definition of Deja Vu?

The word déjà vu can be a little confusing. To help you better understand it, we’ve gathered multiple definitions from a few trusted sources and have them listed below:

  • According to the Collins Dictionary, déjà vu is the odd feeling that you’ve already experienced the things that are happening to you now. 
  • The Oxford English Dictionary describes déjà vu as the strange feeling of having already experienced the present situation.
  • says déjà vu is the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time. 

After reviewing the definitions listed above, we can define déjà vu as the uncanny sensation that you’ve already experienced something — even when you know you never have. 

What Causes Deja Vu?

Déjà vu is a tricky subject to study, partially because it happens without warning and often in individuals without any underlying medical disorders that contribute to the experience.

In addition, déjà vu experiences tend to end just as quickly as they begin — the trippy sensation may be so fleeting that if you don’t know too much about the strange phenomenon, you may not even realize what just happened. 

You might feel a bit confused for a moment, but quickly brush off the experience and not give it another thought. 

Today, experts aren’t totally sure what causes déjà vu; however, most agree that it’s likely connected to memory in some way. Some of the more well-known theories include:

  • Split perception
  • Minor brain circuit malfunctions
  • Memory recall

Although déjà vu usually has no serious cause, it can happen just before or during an epileptic seizure or focal seizure as it is often associated with temporal lobe epilepsy. 

What Is the Origin of Deja Vu?

From French, meaning “already seen,” the word déjà vu is also called paramnesia. Paramnescomes from Greek παρα para meaning “near” and μνήμη mnēmē meaning “memory.”

The history of the word déjà vu is a bit cloudy; however, the earliest account of a déjà vu-like experience was recorded by Saint Augustine in 400 AD, who called it a “falsae memoriae.” 

It was later used by Emile Boirac in 1876 in his Revue Philosophique, where the author mentioned “le sensation du déjà vu” to recall the strange experience in his letter to the editor.

Although references to the term déjà vu go back many years, it wasn’t officially recognized in the scientific community until 1896 when a French neurologist named F.L. Arnaud proposed to use it in a scientific meeting of Societe Medico-Psychologique. 

Words Related to Deja Vu

To further your understanding of déjà vu, let’s take a look at a few synonyms and related words:

  • Familiarity
  • Past-life experience
  • Recall
  • Recognition
  • Recollection
  • Nostalgia
  • Photographic memory
  • Flashback
  • False impression
  • Bubble
  • Apparition
  • Long-term memory
  • Idolism
  • Chimera
  • Hallucinations
  • Daydream
  • Confusion
  • Fallacy
  • Misconception
  • Short-term memory
  • Precognition
  • Prophecy
  • Neurology

Examples of Deja Vu in a Sentence

Now that you understand the meaning of déjà vu, it’s time to practice using this term in a sentence. 

Quiz yourself to see how many sentences you can come up with on your own or review the usages examples we put together for you below:

When I got to the party, I immediately felt a sense of déjà vu.

Gosh, this rise in housing costs is seriously giving me a case of déjà vu.

I know I’ve never had it in the past, but after tasting that wine, I felt a case of déjà vu. 

While experiencing déjà vu, Bob felt like he had already lived through the traumatic bike accident before.

A strange blast of déjà vu hit me like a speeding train when I entered the room.

I thought I was experiencing a loss of consciousness, but I am starting to believe it was déjà vu.

My sister explained what happened to all of her followers on Facebook and Instagram, and it appears déjà vu is much more common than we had thought.

I think the abnormal dream-like memories I had the other day was déjà vu.

My sister read on Twitter that a feeling of familiarity is often a case of déjà vu.

Although the cause of déjà vu hasn’t been identified, it’s probably not a glitch in the Matrix, despite what many people believe.


So, do you know the term déjà vu?

In short, déjà vu is the strange experience that one has witnessed something that has already happened before. 

Coined by French psychic researcher Emile Boirac sometime in the mid-1800s, déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity and also a sense of “eeriness” or “uncanniness.” 

More often than not, the “original” experience is most frequently attributed to a dream —although in some cases, symptoms may include a strong sense that the experience actually happened at some point in the past.


  1. Déjà vu Definition & Meaning |
  2. DÉJÀ VU English Definition and Meaning |
  3. Déjà vu definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  4. Anatomical origin of déjà vu and vivid ‘memories’ in human temporal lobe epilepsy | PubMed