What is a Thinko?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2019
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A thinko is a mental glitch which causes some sort of error in someone's thought processing. Like a typo, a thinko is correctable, although it may take a moment to unravel the confusion. You may also hear thinkos referred to as brain farts, and someone who experiences a thinko may refer to making a slip or drawing a blank. Most people make thinkos at some point or another, especially when they are in a hurry or stressed out.

The classic example of a thinko is using the wrong word in a sentence. This often happens when someone is thinking more quickly than he or she can speak, or when someone is distracted, and it can sometimes result in an amusing or embarrassing slip of the tongue. This sort of thinko is generally easy to correct, since it is usually promptly noticed, and the speaker can pause to clarify the topic under discussion. In a related thinko, someone may momentarily forget which word is appropriate for a sentence, or lose track of what he or she is saying.


In addition to involving speech, thinkos can involve things like memory. Many older people, for example, complain of never being able to remember where they left their keys, glasses, or other personal belongings. Glitches of memory do not just attack the elderly, of course, as younger people may commit the same thinkos. The lapse in memory may be linked to a situation in which someone is distracted or stressed out, leading him or her to put belongs in a strange place and to forget where these possessions have been left.

A thinko can also result in a physical pratfall which may vary in severity. For example, someone who is used to driving a car with a manual transmission might reach for the clutch in a car with an automatic transmission and become momentarily confused, or a knitter might lose track of where he or she is in a pattern and experience a momentary blank.

Making frequent thinkos can be a sign that someone is under stress, and he or she may want to slow down. It is a good idea to know one's limits and to be firm on these limits in order to reduce the amount of strain one experiences, as mental glitches from strain may sometimes be harmless, but they can also be very dangerous or debilitating. Heavy workloads may result in thinkos and other mistakes, especially when combined with stressful activities outside of work, ranging from participating in too many groups and organizations to raising children.


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