Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Mnemonic

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is mnemonic. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Mnemonic means “assisting or intended to assist memory” or “of or relating to a technique for improving one’s memory.” It also has a broader sense meaning “of or relating to memory.”

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

MNEMONIC in Context

“Restoring Indigenous place names restores mnemonic and spiritual connections among place, culture and ancestral knowledge.” — Bonnie McGill, Scientific American, 22 Apr. 2022

Did You Know?

Need a mnemonic device to remember how to spell mnemonic? Although the word’s pronunciation begins with an n sound, the spelling begins with an m, as in memory. There are very few English words that start this way (mnestic and mnioid are two others), and as with similar Latin and Greek borrowings such as pneumonia, we retained the double initial consonant but not the pronunciation. In addition to its adjectival use, mnemonic is also a noun used to refer to a mnemonic device, such as the famous—or infamous—spelling dictum “I before E, except after C,” which isn’t consistently helpful (just ask your neighbor to weigh in on it).

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