Word of the Day : October 6, 2011

mnemonic

play
adjective nih-MAH-nik

Definition

: assisting or designed to assist memory

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

To help remember the levels of biological classification, James taught his students the mnemonic sentence “King Philip Came Over For Good Spaghetti” (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species).

"Mnemonic devices can help, like mentally registering the name of a new acquaintance by picturing another friend with that moniker." -- From an article by Kate Zimmerman in the North Shore News (North Vancouver, B.C.), September 4, 2011



Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "bildungsroman," our Word of the Day from September 23? The answer is ...


Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!