Phrase the first:
Do not deny it — you have had it happen to you. You are speaking quite eloquently when, suddenly, the word you want is no longer available. Your brain searches, but it cannot be found. It isn’t a tough word. In fact, you are quite sure it is an obvious word. But you can’t find it.
True story the first:
A co-worker was describing a recent situation where she called her husband to join her at the window. “Look at that…” and she paused. Her brain refused to come up with the name of the bird. She tried again. “Look at that… Look at that…” It wasn’t a particularly difficult name. It wasn’t a Pale-headed Brush Finch or a Turquoise-throated Puffleg or a Cebu Flowerpecker. But she continued to sputter, “Look at that…” Finally, in exasperation she stated, “Look at that pecking bird.” Her husband responded, “You mean that Woodpecker?”
Yes, those are the types of easy words our brains occasionally deny us. Accordingly, our department has come to call such events pecking bird moments. In fact, when we can’t think of the word, we now just use “pecking bird.” As in, “The other day I climbed into my pecking bird and drove away.”
Phrase the second (related to the previous phrase):
And, when you just don’t seem to be able to come up with that word, your brain is more than happy to supply a poor substitute — a phrase or word that kind of means the same thing, but not exactly. Pecking bird is an example. These are now known as word arounds.
True story the second (showing how these phrases would be used):
Two days ago I was writing something about a secluded hideaway. I had a pecking bird moment and couldn’t think of the word “hideaway.” I first typed “enclave” as a word around, but realized that wasn’t close. Then I used “hidey-hole.” Yes, that is how close my word around came to actually relieving me of the burden of my pecking bird moment.
Feel free to use both phrases freely — if you can remember them.