(sin-uh s-thee´-zhuh)


:a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation  of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway

etymology: from ancient Greek syn “together”  and aisthesis “sensation”

First Known Use: circa 1891

Sources: Wikipedia,

Synesthesia… extraordinary phenomenon and one which I did not realize had a name until a few years ago, even though I had experienced it as long as I could remember.

Doesn’t everyone see letters and words as colours?  B is blue, c is yellow, e is red, f is pink, i is white, p is blue and s is green.  These are the ones that stand out.  A is a dark colour, as are  g and r.  M, n and l are a completely different colour but I cannot determine just what it is. Words take on the colour of their first letter so pillow is blue. Numbers have colours, too. The number 2 is yellow and 5 is pink.

This form of synesthesia is known as grapheme-colour synesthesia.  Different synesthetes  do not see the same colours for all letters but it is common for A to be seen as red. For me, A is indecipherable.

Another form of synesthesia is known as chromesthesia in which sound is associated with colour.

Auditory-tactile synesthesia is one in which sounds can induce sensations in parts of the body.

Spatio-temporal synesthesia is a form in which individuals have a mental map of days, weeks and/or months of the year.  I, for instance, see the days of the week as a circle with Monday at twelve o’clock, going counter-clockwise with Sunday at one o’clock.  The months of the year, I see as a circle with January at one o’clock, going clockwise with December at twelve o’clock.

People with spatial-sequence synesthesia see numerical sequences as points in space. For instance, here is a map of how I see numbers from 1 to 100.  Until I read about this type of synesthesia I had assumed that everyone saw numbers this way.


There are other forms of synesthesia, as well.

Slightly less than 5% of the population is believed to have at least one form of synesthesia. It is believed that synesthetes are likely to be creative.

Do you have any of these synesthesias?  Maybe you do and didn’t even realize it.

#etymology #weekly  #feature