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Oblivious to or of

Oblivious to or of?

A reader wonders why, “In modern usage, we hear…‘oblivious to’ more than we hear the correct usage.”

Writing about oblivious in 1926, H. W. Fowler felt that the word was “badly misused”:

1. Its right sense is no longer aware or no longer mindful; it is not simply unaware or unconscious or insensible.

2. Even when the word might bear its true sense of forgetful (as opposed to unaware), it is often followed by the wrong preposition (to). —Modern English Usage

Both of Fowler’s objections have been invalidated by time. Although oblivious is still used in the sense of forgetfulness, its usual sense nowadays is “unaware or unconscious of,” and either of or to is acceptable to use with it.

Some SAT preparation sites list of as the only option with oblivious, but others indicate that either of or to is acceptable. (The SAT is a battery of tests taken by high school students who intend to apply to university.)

The earliest documentation in the OED of the use of “oblivious to” in the sense of unaware is dated 1854: “The anti-reformer in Ireland is just as oblivious to the existence or the curability of evils there.”

Oblivious can be used without a preposition:

He’s the most oblivious man I’ve ever met.
Women Have a Sixth Sense, Men Are Oblivious

In cryptology, an “oblivious transfer protocol” is “a type of protocol in which a sender transfers one of potentially many pieces of information to a receiver, but remains oblivious as to what piece (if any) has been transferred.” Here oblivious means unaware.

In computing, there is something called a “cache-oblivious algorithm.” I’ve no intention of trying to explain that one.

Fowler concluded his entry on oblivious by suggesting that speakers could avoid problems by choosing a more common word to begin with:

The making of these mistakes is part of the price paid by those who reject the homely word, avoid the obvious, and look about for the imposing: forgetful, unaware, unconscious, unmindful, and insensible, while they usually give the meaning more precisely, lay no traps.

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§ Как начать играть в игру Oblivious?

Oblivious является браузерной игрой, т.е. не требует скачивания клиента, и для начала игры вам будет достаточно нажать на кнопку «ИГРАТЬ!», расположенную ниже. После этого вы будете автоматически перенаправлены на официальный сайт Обливиус, где и сможете немедленно начать играть, пройдя несложную процедуру регистрации в игре Oblivious.

10 Responses to “Oblivious to or of?”

  • thebluebird11 on January 10, 2014 12:16 pm

Obviate the word “oblivious”? No way! My friends know me as the Queen of Oblivion. I do not watch TV, read newspapers, go online for news or keep up on much. I have neither the time nor the inclination. They know that if a bomb went off or a hurricane is coming, someone had better call me to tell me (as they did when 9/11 happened) because otherwise I will be oblivious of/to it.
As far as which preposition to use with it, I guess I can go with using either one. They both sound OK to my ears, although I was schooled that “of” was the correct one.

R. E. Hunter on January 10, 2014 1:25 pm

This tip really surprised me. I’ve never once seen “oblivious” used with “of”, only ever with “to”.

Tehlanna on January 10, 2014 3:22 pm

I usually combine it with the word that makes the most sense depending on how I’m using the word – most often I’m using it to mean “unaware”, and I would never pair “unaware” with to. So I almost exclusively pair “oblivious” with of. I also learnt that pairing it with the word to was incorrect.

venqax on January 10, 2014 3:43 pm

I suppose if you consider its meaning to be “unaware”, “have become unaware”, or even “forgetful”, then *of* is the only preposition that makes sense. You wouldn’t say you were unaware to something, or forgetful to the fact of something. I don’t think I’ve ever inferred or used oblivious to mean forgetful, so that is a new one to me. I’ve always thought it to mean unaware but sometimes depending on context, with an additional connotation of judgment. E.g., being unaware of something one should, in theory at least, be aware of. So you would say someone is oblivious of his friends’ feelings, or oblivious of the consequences of his actions, but not that he is oblivious of his aunt in Junction City. But maybe that is reading too much into it. I’ll stick with oblivious of, consciously, but I’m sure I’ll be oblivious to my backsliding.

Dale A. Wood on January 10, 2014 9:08 pm

I believe that “oblivion” is a much more useful word than “oblivious” is.
Sometimes I find myself going about in a state of oblivion, but not very often.
For some people, existing in a state of oblivion is their routine thing!
Briefly, they are the ones who think that 2 + 2 = 5, and H2O is beer.
D.A.W.

Dale A. Wood on January 10, 2014 9:11 pm

To R.E. Hunter:
Someone could be oblivious to the intelligent life that resides on Mars.
LOL! D.A.W.

Nana on January 12, 2014 8:42 pm

2+2 does = 5, for very large values of 2, and Town Hall Black H2O Oatmeal Stout is a beer.

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—————
Considering ‘blind to’ would be an acceptable alternative, but so would ‘unaware of’, I’d agree that usage should fit the context.

I, personally, would use ‘to’ when someone is distracted, and ‘of’ when someone is clueless.

venqax on January 13, 2014 2:38 pm

@R. E. Hunter: With all due respect, you need to read some better stuff.

Nick on April 22, 2015 1:37 pm

This word continues to drive me crazy, and here’s why: Whether it is being used to mean “forgetful,” “unaware” or “unmindful,” wouldn’t the natural preposition to follow be “of”? After all, one is not unmindful, forgetful or unaware TO something but rather OF something.

Where am I going wrong here?

bobo on July 01, 2015 11:51 am

§ Сражения и прокачка в Обливиус

В игре Oblivious есть несколько боевых режимов:

— Прохождение сюжета. PvE-контент, суть которого в выполнении сюжетных миссий. Чем дальше вы пройдете, тем более могущественные героини станут вам доступны и смогут быть использованы в остальных режимах.

— Подвиги. Включают в себя путешествия по данжам и сражения с особо опасными противниками, за победу над которыми предусмотрена щедрая награда.

— События. В Обливиус, как во многих MMORPG, проводятся ограниченные по времени испытания. В качестве бонуса за их прохождение вы получаете уникальную экипировку и новых воительниц.

— Рейды. Групповое прохождение врагов и участие в масштабных PvP-сражениях.

Все бои в игре проходят в пошаговом режиме. Отряды врагов и союзников атакуют по очереди, бойцы применяют свои уникальные способности, которые сопровождаются красочными спецэффектами. А если хочется расслабиться и не заморачиваться тактиками, то можно нажать на «Автобой», доверив управление компьютеру.

Прокачка в игре Oblivious сводится к усилению характеристик героя. Все они выглядят стандартно: здоровье, физическая и магическая атаки, защита и выносливость. Чтобы иметь возможность прокачивать параметры, понадобится особо редкий предмет. Так же важно помнить, что все прекрасные спутницы обладают разной степенью редкости, которая выражается в звездах. Чем их больше, тем обширнее возможности прокачки.

Oblivious — это бесплатная игра от известного разработчика GameNet, которая придется по душе всем любителям стилистики аниме. Каждый персонаж детально прорисован и выглядит действительно уникально. Боевая система позволяет продумывать собственную тактику ведения боя и требует внимательно отнесись к построению отряда. Присоединяйтесь!

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  • Sabine Hossenfelder on Free Will October 10, 2020
  • On Garrett Hardin’s Denial and the Gift of History October 3, 2020
  • Maximizing Power with Fewer Children September 22, 2020
  • By Apneaman: On Plandemics and Denial September 15, 2020
  • By Art Berman: Stop Expecting Oil and the Economy to Recover September 7, 2020
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  • By Jack Alpert: How the World Works August 12, 2020
  • What a relief, I was wrong, we’ll be ok… August 11, 2020
  • Eric Weinstein: A Case Study in Denial August 8, 2020

10 Responses to “Oblivious to or of?”

  • thebluebird11 on January 10, 2014 12:16 pm

Obviate the word “oblivious”? No way! My friends know me as the Queen of Oblivion. I do not watch TV, read newspapers, go online for news or keep up on much. I have neither the time nor the inclination. They know that if a bomb went off or a hurricane is coming, someone had better call me to tell me (as they did when 9/11 happened) because otherwise I will be oblivious of/to it.
As far as which preposition to use with it, I guess I can go with using either one. They both sound OK to my ears, although I was schooled that “of” was the correct one.

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R. E. Hunter on January 10, 2014 1:25 pm

This tip really surprised me. I’ve never once seen “oblivious” used with “of”, only ever with “to”.

Tehlanna on January 10, 2014 3:22 pm

I usually combine it with the word that makes the most sense depending on how I’m using the word – most often I’m using it to mean “unaware”, and I would never pair “unaware” with to. So I almost exclusively pair “oblivious” with of. I also learnt that pairing it with the word to was incorrect.

venqax on January 10, 2014 3:43 pm

I suppose if you consider its meaning to be “unaware”, “have become unaware”, or even “forgetful”, then *of* is the only preposition that makes sense. You wouldn’t say you were unaware to something, or forgetful to the fact of something. I don’t think I’ve ever inferred or used oblivious to mean forgetful, so that is a new one to me. I’ve always thought it to mean unaware but sometimes depending on context, with an additional connotation of judgment. E.g., being unaware of something one should, in theory at least, be aware of. So you would say someone is oblivious of his friends’ feelings, or oblivious of the consequences of his actions, but not that he is oblivious of his aunt in Junction City. But maybe that is reading too much into it. I’ll stick with oblivious of, consciously, but I’m sure I’ll be oblivious to my backsliding.

Dale A. Wood on January 10, 2014 9:08 pm

I believe that “oblivion” is a much more useful word than “oblivious” is.
Sometimes I find myself going about in a state of oblivion, but not very often.
For some people, existing in a state of oblivion is their routine thing!
Briefly, they are the ones who think that 2 + 2 = 5, and H2O is beer.
D.A.W.

Dale A. Wood on January 10, 2014 9:11 pm

To R.E. Hunter:
Someone could be oblivious to the intelligent life that resides on Mars.
LOL! D.A.W.

Nana on January 12, 2014 8:42 pm

2+2 does = 5, for very large values of 2, and Town Hall Black H2O Oatmeal Stout is a beer.

—————
Considering ‘blind to’ would be an acceptable alternative, but so would ‘unaware of’, I’d agree that usage should fit the context.

I, personally, would use ‘to’ when someone is distracted, and ‘of’ when someone is clueless.

venqax on January 13, 2014 2:38 pm

@R. E. Hunter: With all due respect, you need to read some better stuff.

Nick on April 22, 2015 1:37 pm

This word continues to drive me crazy, and here’s why: Whether it is being used to mean “forgetful,” “unaware” or “unmindful,” wouldn’t the natural preposition to follow be “of”? After all, one is not unmindful, forgetful or unaware TO something but rather OF something.

Where am I going wrong here?

bobo on July 01, 2015 11:51 am

§ Как начать играть в игру Oblivious?

Oblivious является браузерной игрой, т.е. не требует скачивания клиента, и для начала игры вам будет достаточно нажать на кнопку «ИГРАТЬ!», расположенную ниже. После этого вы будете автоматически перенаправлены на официальный сайт Обливиус, где и сможете немедленно начать играть, пройдя несложную процедуру регистрации в игре Oblivious.

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