Mnemonic

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A mnemonic (noun - also used as an adjective) - is a trick to help the memory. The first 'm-' is usually silent, although some speakers realize it: the normal pronunciation is 'ne-MONN-ic',IPA: /nɪ (or ə) ˈmɒ nɪk/. The word is related, etymologically, to the name of the Greek goddess of memory - Mnemosyne.

Common mnemonic techniques include:

  • rhymes, such as
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
Excepting February alone,
Which hath twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year."
  • word-pegs, whereby items to be remembered are associated with words in a list which is itself easier to remember;
  • initial letters of [groups of] words, such as "Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain" for the colours of the rainbow (spectrum of visible light): Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour", for the notes found on the 5 lines of the treble clef (the notes in the spaces of the bass clef may be remembered by "All Cows Eat Grass");
  • The 'method of loci', 'Palace of Memory' or 'memory walk', wherein things to be remembered in order are imagined being put in familiar places on a well-known route; recalling them becomes a matter of visualizing the route - retracing one's steps - and seeing what is 'stored' at each location, perhaps in each room of one's house. This method is of considerable antiquity, and was used by Cicero in remembering his prepared speeches. It is described in Yates (1966).