mne·​mon·​ic | \ ni-ˈmä-nik How to pronounce mnemonic (audio) \

Definition of mnemonic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : assisting or intended to assist memory To distinguish "principal" from "principle" use the mnemonic aid "the principal is your pal." also : of or relating to mnemonics
2 : of or relating to memory mnemonic skill



Definition of mnemonic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a mnemonic device or code

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Other Words from mnemonic


mnemonically \ ni-​ˈmä-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce mnemonic (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?


The word mnemonic derives from Greek mnēmōn ("mindful"), which itself comes from the Greek word meaning "to remember." (In classical mythology, Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses, is the goddess of memory.) As with many classical borrowings, we retained the double initial consonant, but not the pronunciation of both, since the combination doesn't occur naturally in English. ("Pneumonia" is a similar case.) "Mnemonic" can also be a noun meaning "a mnemonic device." If the spelling of this word strikes you as particularly fiendish to remember, try this mnemonic to get you started on the right track: keep in mind that although the pronunciation begins with an "n" sound, the spelling begins with an "m," as in "memory."

Examples of mnemonic in a Sentence

Noun HOMES is used as a mnemonic for the names of the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective These fellows are going to let fly, one last time, before their probable rendezvous with mnemonic erosion. New York Times, "Emotions Haunt a Man for Life in Cynthia Ozick’s Tragicomic ‘Antiquities’," 19 Apr. 2021 Zane Fyfe, who is in his sixth year as coach at Apponequet, uses words like animals, or mascots, or mnemonic phrases., "What we know about the Duxbury football team’s Holocaust-related play calls," 24 Mar. 2021 The mnemonic response grows stronger with every encounter. Apoorva Mandavilli New York Times, Star Tribune, "Antibody tests may not register low levels of virus," 30 July 2020 This generally means going from the particular to the general (as enshrined in the mnemonic PIG, for particular-inductive-general). Quanta Magazine, "Bongard Problems and Scientific Discovery," 8 June 2017 But Lionel also has a near-perfect echoic memory for words and voices, details and clues erupting in involuntary bursts of sing-songy rhymes that serve, in part, as mnemonic devices. Katie Walsh,, "‘Motherless Brooklyn’ review: Solid, enjoyable mystery flick written and directed by Edward Norton," 31 Oct. 2019 To ward off migraine attacks, Dr. Newman recommends following the mnemonic SEEDS: Sleep: Get enough sleep and follow roughly the same schedule every day. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Is It a Migraine or a Another Headache? How to Tell the Difference, According to Neurologists," 28 May 2019 Under these conditions test subjects are generally unable to come up with mnemonic devices or use such memory aids as kitchen timers or to-do lists. Nicola Ballhausen, Scientific American, "Foresee and Forget: How to Remember the Future," 7 Mar. 2018 In one of his studies on earworm songs, Lassi Liikkanen of Finland’s Helsinki Institute for Information Technology theorizes that the involuntary bits and bobs that pop into our heads may be mnemonic devices, or memory aids. Markham Heid, Time, "You Asked: Why Do Certain Songs Get Stuck in Your Head?," 24 Jan. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Not only was the whine agitating—EHHNNNNNNNN—but its constant drone was like a cruel mnemonic for everything that bothered him. Bianca Bosker, The Atlantic, "Why Everything Is Getting Louder," 8 Oct. 2019 The mnemonic that emergency room doctors use to quickly evaluate patients is A.B.C. — airway, breathing, circulation. New York Times, "Surgeons Labored to Save the Wounded in El Paso Mass Shooting," 9 Aug. 2019 This mnemonic may unwittingly exploit the fact that the hippocampus encodes both location information and autobiographical memories. Quanta Magazine, "Brain’s Positioning System Linked to Memory," 7 Oct. 2014 Another hint that websites can offer is what Dr. Juang calls a visual mnemonic—a simple drawing that suggests to the user what their passphrase is. Henry Williams, WSJ, "Forget Passwords. It’s Time for Passphrases.," 18 Sep. 2018 Which seems to me like the ultimate takeaway: Google doesn't need to engineer mnemonics into its 2FA codes. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "Just How Random Are Two Factor Authentication Codes?," 21 Apr. 2018 Earl helped her fellow students break down the biological processes into mnemonics that would help them remember. Karen Herzog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How UWM peer Georgia State figured out how to graduate more black students," 16 Jan. 2018 But Bai/bye is a nifty mnemonic, deftly associating the brand’s name with a memorable tune. Seth Stevenson, Slate Magazine, "The Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads," 6 Feb. 2017 There's even a quick mnemonic to help you out: sometimes, always, never. Jonathan Evans, Esquire, "Stop Buttoning the Bottom Button of Your Jacket," 30 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mnemonic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mnemonic


1672, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1842, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mnemonic

Adjective and Noun

Greek mnēmonikos, from mnēmōn mindful, from mimnēskesthai to remember — more at mind

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Time Traveler for mnemonic

Time Traveler

The first known use of mnemonic was in 1672

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Last Updated

24 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mnemonic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for mnemonic



English Language Learners Definition of mnemonic

: something (such as a word, a sentence, or a song) that helps people remember something (such as a rule or a list of names)


mne·​mon·​ic | \ ni-ˈmän-ik How to pronounce mnemonic (audio) \

Medical Definition of mnemonic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : assisting or intended to assist memory also : of or relating to mnemonics
2 : of or relating to memory

Other Words from mnemonic

mnemonically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce mnemonic (audio) \ adverb



Medical Definition of mnemonic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a mnemonic device or code

More from Merriam-Webster on mnemonic

Nglish: Translation of mnemonic for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about mnemonic

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