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Wednesday, September 9, 2015


This week's word is mnemonic [ni-mon-ik], a noun meaning "something intended to assist the memory, such as a verse or formula". (Or, used as an adjective, the word means "helping the memory".)

Back when I was in 9th grade, my Earth Science teacher asked our class to make up mnemonics to help us remember the order of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. (Yes, this was back in the old days, when Pluto was considered a planet!)

My teacher suggested substituting a different word (beginning with the same letter) for each planet, thus creating a sentence that would be easy for us to remember. Over 30 years later, I can still recall the sentence I came up with:

My very energetic mother jumped 
straight up near Polaris.

And, to this day, I still use that mnemonic whenever I need to remember the order of the planets (now minus one).

Anything can be used as mnemonics -- images, acronyms, songs, rhymes, phrases. Another mnemonic that I learned in junior high is this acronym:


Each letter stands for a color, in the order that each appears in a rainbow:

Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet

Have you ever used a mnemonic to help remember something? What was it?

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