The Meaning of Reminiscing: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what the word reminiscing means? This guide will provide you with all of the knowledge you need on the word reminiscing, including its definition, etymology, usage, sentence examples, and more!

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What is the definition of reminiscing?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, Dictionary, and other Dictionary apps, the word reminiscing is the present participle form of the intransitive verb reminisce, pronounced “ˌrem.əˈnɪs.” If someone is to reminisce about something, they are thinking about past memories or recalling past experience. This could also be stated as engaging in reminiscence, which is the noun form of the word reminisce. Reminiscence refers to the act of recalling said memories, or a collection of memories or things that are recalled. People often use the word reminiscing along with its other forms, reminisced and reminisce, to talk about the good old days gone by. The word usually has a positive connotation. One might reminisce about their college days, when they did not have to worry about paying bills or taking care of a family. An older person might reminisce about their younger days or jobs they used to have. People strictly reminisce about things that have already happened in the past.

Many languages other than English talk about memories from the past. The word reminisce can be said in many different ways in different languages. Below is a list of translations from Word Sense.

  • Marathi: भूतकाळ आठवणे‎, आठवण काढणे‎, गतकाळातील स्मृतींना उजाळा देणे‎
  • Mandarin: 回憶‎, 回忆‎ (huíyì), 追憶‎, 追忆‎ (zhuīyì), 緬懷‎, 缅怀‎ (miǎnhuái), 敘舊‎, 叙旧‎ (xùjiù), 話舊‎, 话旧‎ (huàjiù), 懷舊‎, 怀旧‎ (huáijiù)
  • Polish: wspominać‎ (impf), wspomnieć‎ (pf)
  • Hindi: याद करना‎ (yād karnā)
  • Russian: вспомина́ть‎ (impf), вспо́мнить‎ (pf)
  • French: évoquer des réminiscences‎, se remémorer‎
  • Greek: αναπολώ‎
  • Scottish Gaelic: cuimhnich‎
  • Spanish: añorar‎, rememorar
  • Czech: vzpomínat‎ (impf), vzpomenout‎ (pf)
  • Finnish: muistella‎

What is the etymology of the word reminiscing?

According to Etymonline, the verb reminisce has been used since the year 1829. Its meaning to indulge in reminiscences has been used since 1871. The word reminisce is a back-formation that comes from the noun reminiscence. According to Etymonline, the word reminiscence is a noun that has been used since the 1580s to mean some act of remembering. This comes from the French reminiscence which has been used since the 14th century. This comes directly from the Late Latin reminiscentia, meaning remembrance or recollection. This comes from the Latin reminiscentem, the nomative form of reminiscens which is the present participle form of the word reminisci, meaning to remember or recall. This comes from the prefix re- meaning “again” and the root minisci meaning “to remember.” This comes from the root of mens, which means “mind.”

How can the word reminiscing be used in a sentence?

The word reminiscing can be used in many different ways. This word is considered polite, so it is appropriate to use in any casual, professional, or formal conversation. In this first example, Jane will use the word reminisce during a speech at her uncle’s funeral.

Jane: The last time I spoke to Uncle Will, he told me he wanted his funeral to be a happy occasion. He knew we would be missing him, of course, but he said he would rather have us reminiscing about the good times than crying about the fact that he is gone. Let’s go around in a circle and talk about a great memory we had with Uncle Will.

Sarah: I’ll start. Hi everyone, I’m Will’s daughter, Sarah. My father was an amazing man. My favorite memories with him are when he pushed me to do something that I thought was scary, like jumping into a pool, or off of a swing. He always told me no matter how high I jumped or how old I got, his arms would always be there to catch me.

Here, Jane uses the word reminiscing to prompt the funeral attendees to tell happy stories about their memories with Uncle Will. In this next example, Jane is at her ten year high school reunion. She talks to her old high school friends.

Jane: Oh my God, I can’t believe we used to be so brazen about sneaking off campus. They didn’t even try to stop us.

Miguel: There were so many of us, what were they going to do? I think deep down they knew that twenty high school kids going to gorge themselves on McDonalds wasn’t worth the headache.

Jane: Absolutely.

Anika: I miss this! I miss you guys! Reminiscing is making me remember how fun high school was. I miss not having to pay bills and prep bottles and take my kids to school at o’ dark thirty in the morning.

Jane: Well, at least it isn’t you who has to be ready to learn calculus at 7:00AM!

Anika: You’ve got me there! I do not miss every new year having to switch my whole sleeping schedule.

What are synonyms for the word reminiscing?

There are many alternative words one can use in place of the word reminisce. These words are called synonyms. Synonyms are words or phrases that have identical or similar definitions to other words. One might choose to use a synonym to avoid repeating the same word, or to expand their own vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word reminiscing is provided by Thesaurus.

  • call up
  • remind
  • cite
  • hark back
  • recall
  • remember
  • revive
  • review
  • retain
  • recollect
  • retrospect
  • live in the past
  • look back
  • think back
  • muse over
  • bethink
  • mind

Overall, the word reminiscing is the present participle form of the verb reminisce, which means to think about or discuss past memories and events. People often reminisce about happy times from their own past. The word reminisce is often associated with telling stories that will make others happy. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.wordsense.eu/reminisce/
  2. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/reminiscing
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reminisce
  4. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/reminiscence
  5. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/reminisce
  6. https://www.etymonline.com/word/reminisce
  7. https://www.etymonline.com/word/reminiscence?ref=etymonline_crossreference