Dept of Abused Terminology: The “Aha!” Moment

Ah, the “aha” moment…  while currently only garnering about 199,000 results on Google, in the circles of training and education where I live, the phrase “Aha Moment” has definitely crossed the annoying- phrase threshold and is well on its way to the point of no return… somewhere between “multi-modal” and “at the end of the day.”

Recently, I heard someone use the term 3 or 4 times in the span of about 30 seconds. (David G has me wondering if that is more like a “haha moment” ?)   Well, I’m officially adding “aha moment” to my secret Learning & Development Jargon Bingo Card… it’s right next to “stakeholder” and “learning style” and nestled underneath “subject matter expert”  (aka, SME, a TLA which is pronounced it’s ugly phonetic-rendering of “smeeee”).

The Aha Moment —  also known as an “sudden insight” or “epiphany” (yes, there’s a perfectly good existing word out there, folks) — is the holy grail of the edutainer (cf. Wikipedia, cf. XKCD) who is addicted to the experience of creating awesome, relevant, life-changing moments in the lives of their audience/learners… however fleeting those moments of glory may be.

Apparently, while Mutual of Omaha has tried to own the term, so has Oprah Winfrey, leading them to a legal dispute last year about who owns the right to speak these poor, abused words of the English language.  You might say that Oprah and Mutual of Omaha had a bit of a  pipe wrench fight…  because, as a friend (props @Lev P) suggested to me, whenever I hear someone use the term “AHA MOMENT,” I should start humming that classic tune from the 1980s…


About danspira

My blog is at: My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on May 26, 2010, in humor, Jargon, Learning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Oh yes, and if “epiphany” or “revelation” are words that sound too fancy (or too Catholic) to you, then there’s always “realization.” Realization is a pretty straightforward word, right? Here’s an example of how you might use it in conversation:

    “No, you didn’t have an ‘aha moment’ …you simply had a realization. Stop saying ‘aha moment’ before I hit you with my pipe wrench.”


    “Yes, realization has 4 or 5 syllables, depending on your level of drawl, and ‘ahaw moment’ only has 2 and 2 syllables each… but that’s okay. You can improve your diction without having to resort to eyeball-roll-inducing clichés.”

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