Interesting and Unusual Words: “Aforementioned”

By Matt Vicker


Now you may be thinking: “Hang on a minute, Matt, ‘aforementioned’ is not unusual – I use it all the time.” I would respond with: “Ah, you’re right.” (I’m not going to argue with you!) ‘Aforementioned’ is, however, interesting (well to me, in my idiolect, at least). It means that something has been ‘previously mentioned, esp. in a text’ (OED, where else?) and I have been using it as a get-out clause in making a reference in essays and exams since I can remember having to write essays and exams. It’s a word that can avoid you the hassle of re-writing out the same point that you’ve made before and it adds a certain variety to the vocabulary that you use.

As the aforementioned OED definition says (see what I did there?), it applies particularly to a text – it’s is really difficult to put into everyday spoken conversation. It could be that it is too formal to be used or that it is just as easy to say, ‘as I said earlier’ or ‘as previously mentioned’. Can we say: ‘now we are back on the aforementioned topic of *something random and humourous*‘ or does that just sound odd? In that sort of situation I am most likely to say: ‘now we’re back on *something random and humourous*‘. I make that a challenge to you, subtly drop ‘aforementioned’ into a conversation and see if you can pull it off. Let me know of your successes and/or failures in the comments!

The OED entry for ‘aforementioned’:



  1. I’ve always thought aforementioned is such a strange word.

    I think you might be able to get away with saying it in a more formal spoken encounter, such as a structured meeting.

    “Pleas could I draw everyone’s attention back to the aforementioned document on page 6?” Maybe…

    Also, I feel that it is an adjective used more often directly before the noun, instead of after e.g. “the aforementioned linguists” as opposed to “the linguists aforementioned”. Just me?

    1. Yeah, it is more of a formal term I guess. I think you are spot on with adjective argument – I would nearly always use it to modify the noun, for example: ‘the aforementioned quote from Yule’. Using it as a noun just seems a bit weird, but if the OED say it is acceptable then we’ll have to go along with it!

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