Memory Tricks

Mnemonic—pronounced ni-mon-ik, the ‘M’ is silent—are memory devices or strategies to help you remember information. Below are some examples. Creating your own “memory tricks” will come in handy in a variety of situations (e.g., tests, trivia bowls, daily activities). Everyone processes information differently. Thus, when formulating mnemonics, get creative and determine what works best for you.


Feel free to send me mnemonics that you use and/or have created and I will post them for others to see. Don’t forget to tell me your first name or screen name and age. Be sure to scroll down to view all the material.  


A mnemonic for remembering how many days are in each month.


Thirty days hath September 

April, June and November. 

All the rest have thirty-one, 

But February, it is great 

And brings to us twenty-eight, 

Unless it steps out of line 

And brings to us twenty-nine (leap year occurs every four years. The next one occurs in 2016). 


“When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.”

This means that when there are two vowels in a row, the first usually has a long sound and the second is silent. That's why it's team, not taem; coat, not caot; and wait, not wiat. Remembering this rule will help you to put vowels in the right order. ~ Sent by Kats


HOMES is a mnemonic for the five Great Lakes—Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. Notice that if you take the first letter of each Great Lake in the order shown, you get the word HOMES.

Side note: Lake Ontario is the smallest Great Lake; Lake Superior is the largest (and deepest). Lake Huron is the second largest Great Lake, and Lake Michigan, the third largest, is the only Great Lake completely within the United States. Lake Erie is the fourth largest and is also the fourth letter in HOMES.      


A helpful tip:  


When trying to remember something, picture it in your mind and associate it with something funny or silly. For example if you have to remember the words “book,” “shoes” and “tree” you might want to picture a tree, wearing a pair of shoes, reading a book. ~ Sent by Mokeo


ROY G. BIV is a mnemonic for the seven colors of the rainbow—Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. If you take the first letter of each color in the order shown, you will spell ROY G. BIV. 


Here's one for the colors of the rainbow that I've never heard: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain ~ Sent by Jen 


Here is a neat math trick. It only works with numbers ending in 5, and the number has to be squared (meaning that the number must be multiplied by itself). This has been tested for numbers as high as 5 digits.  


For example, 45 x 45.  


Take the first digit, 4, and multiply it by the number that is one higher; in this case, 5.


4 x 5 = 20. Now simply add 25 to the 20 and you have your answer (2025).  


Do this with 115 x 115.  


Take 11 x 12 = 132. Put 25 on the end and you get 13225.  


99995 x 99995.


Take 9999 x 10000 = 99990000. Put 25 on the end and you get 9999000025. Test it with a calculator.


Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally is a mnemonic for remembering the order of operations when solving an equation. 

P = Parentheses, E = Exponents, M = Multiplication, D = Division, A = Addition, S = Subtraction     


Please note: You don’t always add first, where addition and subtraction are involved. Take for instance, 10 – 4 + 2. The correct answer is 8. If you added first, it would be 10 – 6 = 4 and this is incorrect. Think of it as 10 + (– 4) + 2 = 8. It may be helpful to remember the following: 1) Calculate what’s inside parentheses first. 2) Perform all multiplication and division, working from left to right. So if given, 15 x 36/4, working left to right means you multiply 15 by 36 = 540/4 = 135. However, it might be easier to work from right to left. That is, divide first then multiply: 36/4 = 9 x 15 = 135. 3) Perform all addition and subtraction, working from left to right. So if given, 10 – 3 + 4, working left to right means you subtract 3 from 10 = 7 + 4 = 11. ~ Both math tricks sent by Mokeo 


Au is the chemical symbol for Gold. Here’s a sentence to help you remember this fact: A! U! (Hey you!) That’s my gold!  


SKILL is a mnemonic for the Excretory Organs of the Body—Skin, Kidneys, Intestines, Liver, and Lungs. Notice that if you take the first letter of each excretory organ in the order shown, you get the word SKILL.


Melvin Very Easily Makes Jam Spread Unless No Plums is a mnemonic for the order of the planets, beginning with that closest to the sun—Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Note that the first letter of each word of the mnemonic corresponds to the first letter of the name of the planet. Since both Mercury and Mars begin with the letter ‘M’, here is one way to remember that Mercury comes before Mars. Melvin is the FIRST word of the mnemonic, and the first two letters in Melvin and Mercury are the same.   


Another mnemonic for remembering the order of the planets is: My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets ~ Sent by Carolyn 


Here’s a mnemonic done in rhyme to help you remember how many DAYS are in each month: 30 days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31, except February, for it is great and has only 28, except when it steps out of line and brings to us 29. (Leap year occurs every four years. During a leap year, February has 29 days. The next leap year occurs in 2012.)  


Here’s a good mnemonic for remembering when to turn your clock back one-hour or ahead one-hour: Fall Back, Spring Ahead.  


Here’s a mnemonic for remembering the biology principle of Hypertonic (Hypertonicity) vs. Hypotonic (Hypotonicity).

Your body is made up of cells or units of living matter. Hypertonicity occurs when the concentration outside the cell is greater than inside the cell. Thus, water leaves the cell and it shrinks.  The way to remember that a cell shrinks under hypertonic conditions is to think of a hyper kid. Someone who is always hyper is constantly moving about and will most likely be skinny.


Hypotonicity occurs when the concentration inside the cell is greater than outside the cell. Thus, water rushes into the cell and it swells. The way to remember that a cell swells under hypotonic conditions is to think of Hippo. Hippos are rather large and plump.   


Our bodies are always trying to remain in balance (i.e., Isotonic, Iso = same). Hence, depending on the circumstances, water leaves (hypertonicity) the cell to dilute the higher concentration outside the cell or enters (hypotonicity) the cell to dilute the higher concentration within the cell.  


On a map, when north is facing upward and south is facing downward, here’s a little trick to help you remember which way is west and which way is east. West would be to the left and east to the right. The first letter in west is ‘w’ and the first letter in east is ‘e’. Put together, the two letters form the word ‘we.’ Note that ‘w’ is located to the left of ‘e’. See for yourself.


                                 W  E                                   


Note: The tool used on a map to indicate the points of a compass is called a compass rose.  


Port vs. Starboard

In boating, here is a mnemonic for remembering which side of a boat is port and which is starboard. The word “left” contains four letters as does the word “port.” Port is the left side of a boat when looking toward the bow. Starboard is the right side of a boat when looking toward the bow.


Here's one for Port vs. Starboard that I've never heard: No Red Port Left ~ Sent by Jen  


Bow vs. Stern

Here’s one for remembering what term to use for the front and back of a boat. When a person bows he bends forward (not backward). The bow is the front of a boat; the stern is the back.  


Waiver vs. Waver

Notice that the word waver also contains the word wave. As you may already know, a big wave can rock a boat or make it unsteady. Recall that the definition of waver is to become unsteady.    


Stationary vs. Stationery

Here’s a mnemonic done in rhyme: Everything around him was scary so the canary stood stationary. Scary, canary, and stationary rhyme and end in ary.  


Foul vs. Fowl

It may be helpful to remember that the word fowl—birds raised with the intent to be used as food—contains the word ‘owl’. Since an owl is a bird and since the word fowl contains the word owl, associating it in this way may help you remember to write the word fowl and not foul when referring to birds.  


Wring (to squeeze out liquid) vs. Ring (outline of a circle)

I associate the ‘w’ in wring (pronounced ring, the ‘w’ is silent) with the ‘w’ in the word wet. Thus, when something is wet, it will dry faster if you wring it out first. People wear rings on their fingers. If you’ve ever seen one, you already know that the band is circular so that it can fit around your finger.  


Principal vs. Principle

To distinguish principle from principal think of a principal as your pal.  


Complement vs. Compliment

Since by definition, complement means that which makes something complete, it may be helpful to associate the two e’s in complete with the two e’s in complement. Or, since the word compliment contains the letter ‘i’, it may be helpful to associate the ‘i’ in compliment with the word ‘I’ which you use when referring to yourself. Remember, people give compliments.

Here’s a sentence to help clarify things: I like to give compliments because they make people happy or I must pay you a compliment. The blue necktie you are wearing complements the rest of your outfit.  


Hear vs. Here

When you remove the ‘h’ in hear you are left with the word ear. As you know, your ear is what allows you to hear. You hear with your ear. 


Made vs. Maid

When you remove the ‘m’ in maid you are left with the word aid. Think of your maid as your aid, someone who helps you cook, clean, etc.  


Sunday vs. Sundae

By definition, Sunday is the first day of the week. When referring to the days of the week, it may be helpful to remember that Sunday has the word day in it. Also, to remember that Sunday is considered the first day of the week, remember that sun rhymes with one.   


Heal vs. Heel vs. Heel

When you remove the ‘thy’ in healthy you have the word heal. Since heal means to regenerate healthy tissue, it may be helpful to associate the word healthy with heal.

Heel to tilt (a ship). Remove the ‘h’ in heel and you are left with ‘eel’. It may be helpful to think that both a ship and an eel are affiliated with water.

Heel (the bottom back part of the foot). Heel contains two consecutive vowels of the same letter ‘e’ and ‘e’. (Heal does not.) Foot also contains two consecutive vowels of the same letter, ‘o’ and ‘o’. It may help you to remember this so that you always associate the word heel with foot.      


Desert vs. Dessert Since each word is pronounced the same way (di-zurt), a helpful way to remember the difference between desert (to abandon) and dessert (a sweet food served after a meal) is as follows: Oftentimes, people crave seconds when it comes to dessert. Notice that dessert contains two s’s, whereas desert contains only one (it abandoned the other ‘s’). Also note that the word ‘seconds’ contains two s’s. Next time you eat your favorite dessert, remember how happy you’ll be if you are allowed to have seconds.

Note: Desert (an arid, mostly barren region) is pronounced dez-ert.  


DR ABC is a mnemonic for remembering what to do if you encounter a person who is unconscious. Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Circulation. Take the first letter of each word in the order given and you have DR ABC.  


Danger: Check for any potential danger. Make sure you and those around you are safe. Response: Can the victim hear you? Does he/she respond to you in any way?

Airway: Check to see if the airway is blocked in any way (e.g., is there food stuck; did he swallow his tongue); if so, the airway must be cleared.

Breathing: Can the victim breathe freely, even if the airway is clear? He/she could have damaged lungs, for example.

Circulation: Is the heart beating? Is there a pulse? Is it weak, strong or racing?

Note: If you'd like to know more, please consult a first aid manual and/or take a course in first aid.