What does “out of sight, out of mind” mean?

Discover the origins and meaning of the idiom 'out of sight, out of mind'. Learn how it conveys the idea that people tend to forget about things or people that are not visible or present.

Understanding the Idiom

Out of sight, out of mind is an English expression that is used to convey the idea that people tend to forget about things or people that are not visible or present.

The idiom is often used to describe situations where people lose interest in something or someone because they are no longer in their immediate environment.

Origins and History

The origins of the out of sight, out of mind idiom can be traced back to the French language.

The proverb “loin des yeux, loin du coeur” which translates to “far from the eyes, far from the heart” was first recorded in the 12th century.

The idiom was later adopted by the English language in the 16th century and has been in use ever since.

The English version of the idiom was first recorded in John Heywood’s book “A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue” in 1546.

The original text reads “Out of sighte out of mynde, the sayinge is true, whiche is often sayd, and not thought upon”.

Can “In Vain” be Used Interchangeably with “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”?

While “out of sight, out of mind” refers to something being forgotten if it’s not seen or thought about, the meaning of in vain is different.

It implies that effort was wasted or unsuccessful.

So, these two phrases are not interchangeable as they convey different ideas.

Meaning and Interpretation

The meaning of the out of sight, out of mind idiom is quite straightforward.

It implies that people tend to forget about things or people that are not visible or present.

For example, if a person moves away and is no longer in someone’s immediate environment, they may be forgotten about over time.

Here are three example sentences that use the idiom:

  1. “I haven’t seen my old friend in years. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.”
  2. “When the clutter is out of sight, it’s out of mind.”
  3. “I always forget about my gym membership when it’s not in my line of sight. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose.”

Some synonyms of the out of sight, out of mind idiom include: