loss of a large block of interrelated memories; complete or partial loss of memory caused by brain injury, shock, etc.

1780–90; < Neo-Latin < Greek amnēsía, variant of amnēstía oblivion; perhaps learnedly formed from mnē-, stem of mimnḗskesthai to remember (cf. mnemonic) + -s- + -ia -ia. See amnesty

amnestic [am-nes-tik] , adjective Unabridged
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World English Dictionary
amnesia (æmˈniːzjə, -ʒjə, -zɪə)
a defect in memory, esp one resulting from pathological cause, such as brain damage or hysteria
[C19: via New Latin from Greek: forgetfulness, probably from amnēstia oblivion; see amnesty]
adj, —n
adj, —n

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Word Origin & History

"loss of memory," 1786, coined from Gk. amnesia "forgetfulness," from a-, privative prefix, "not" + mimneskesthai "to recall, cause to remember," a reduplicated form related to Gk. mnemnon "mindful," mneme "memory," mnasthai "to remember;" from PIE base *men- "to think, remember" (see mind (n.)).

"causing loss of memory," 1879, from Gk. amnestia "oblivion, forgetfulness;" see amnesia.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

amnesia am·ne·sia (ām-nē'zhə)
The loss or impairment of memory.

amnestic am·nes·tic (ām-něs'tĭk)
Amnesic. n.
An agent that causes amnesia.

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
amnesia   (ām-nē'zhə)  Pronunciation Key 
Partial or total loss of memory, usually caused by brain injury or shock.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
amnesia [(am-nee-zhuh)]

A loss of memory, especially one brought on by some distressing or shocking experience.

Note: A common variant is selective amnesia; the term is applied to public officials who, when questioned about alleged wrongdoing, profess that they cannot remember.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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