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Modern English

synesthesia (noun) — a mixing of the senses

synesthesia — sih-ness-THEE-zhuh () rhymes with "anesthesia"

synesthetic (adj.) — the quality of synesthesia

synesthetic — sih-ness-THEH-tick () rhymes with "anesthetic" & "synthetic"

synesthete (noun) — a person with synesthesia

synesthete — SIH-ness-theet () rhymes with "esthete"


"syn-es-the-sia n. Physiol. Sensation produced at a point other than or remote from the point of stimulation, as of a color from hearing a certain sound (fr. Gk, syn = together + aisthesis = to perceive)" [2].

"Synesthesia is an involuntary joining in which the real information of one sense is accompanied by a perception in another sense. In addition to being involuntary, this additional perception is regarded by the synesthete as real, often outside the body, instead of imagined in the mind's eye. It also has some other interesting features that clearly separate it from artistic fancy or purple prose. Its reality and vividness are what make synesthesia so interesting in its violation of conventional perception. Synesthesia is also fascinating because logically it should not be a product of the human brain, where the evolutionary trend has been for increasing separation of function anatomically.

-R. Cytowic, "Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses" Springer-Verlag, NY (p.1) as quoted in [3].

About the Condtion

"Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which a stimulus in one sense modality is involuntarily elicited in another sense modality. For instance, someone with synesthesia (called a synesthete) may be able to see sounds, taste shapes, or read otherwise black-and-white printed words in color".

"Synesthesia is thought to occur in anywhere from one in as few as 1:2 to 1:2,000 people. In infant (and younger) humans, it has been shown that synesthesia could even be standard up until three months of age, in that infants may at least see sounds, if not have other synesthetic perceptions. Synesthesia is also thought to commonly occur in other types of animals as well" [4].

List of Synesthesia Types

The following list of synesthesia types was created by Lisa Emerson. Most of the included terms were also created by her.

sight -> syn

  • chronopsia - sight syn [unit of] time
  • esthesiopsia - sight syn emotion
  • facetopsia - sight syn personality
  • geusopsia - sight syn taste
  • optopsia - sight syn sight
  • chromopsia - sight syn color (sight)
  • kinesiopsia - sight syn movement (sight)
  • morphopsia - sight syn shape (sight)
  • osmopsia - sight syn smell
  • phonopsia - sight syn sound
  • tactopsia - sight syn touch
  • algiopsia - sight syn pain (touch)
  • baropsia - sight syn weight/pressure (touch)
  • thermopsia - sight syn temperature (touch) [5]

View the full list of synesthesia types

Related Reading

External Sites


  1. Emerson, Lisa J. synesthesia: mixed signals. 23 Jan. 2011. <>.
  3. R. Cytowic, "Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses" Springer-Verlag, NY (p.1)
  4. Emerson, Lisa J. synesthesia: mixed signals. 23 Jan. 2011. <>.
  5. Emerson, Lisa J. synesthesia: mixed signals. 23 Jan. 2011. <>.