Examples of Mnemonics: 4 Tools to Help Your Memory

A mnemonic is a tool that helps us remember certain facts or large amounts of information. They can come in the form of a song, rhyme, acronym, image, phrase, or sentence. Mnemonics help us remember facts and are particularly useful when the order of things is important. Below, we’ll explore several examples of mnemonics that’ll help us remember everything from tricky spelling words to U.S. presidents.

mnemonic phrase fourteen hundred ninety-two columbus sailed ocean blue mnemonic phrase fourteen hundred ninety-two columbus sailed ocean blue
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Examples of Spelling Mnemonics

Are you a fan of spelling bees? Who doesn’t love a bright blue ribbon hanging proudly by their desk? If you have some tricky words coming up on next week’s spelling bee or spelling test, see if you can come up with any spelling mnemonics. All you have to do is construct a phrase or sentence where the first letter of every word represents the difficult spelling word. Take a look:

  • ARITHMETIC: A rat in the house may eat the ice cream.
  • BECAUSE: Big elephants can always understand small elephants.
  • DOES: Daddy only eats sandwiches.
  • FRIEND: Fred rushed in eating nine doughnuts.
  • GEOGRAPHY: George's elderly old grandfather rode a pig home yesterday.
  • LAUGH: Laughing aunts under green hats
  • NECESSARY: Not every cat eats sardines. Some are really yummy.
  • OUGHT: Only unique goats have this.
  • RHYTHM: Rhythm helps your two hips move.
  • SAID: Snakes and insects dance.
  • TOMORROW: Trails of my old red rose over window.

Some of these words land on our list of the 100 Most Often Misspelled Words and 100 More Often Misspelled Words. For more on this, check out these ways to Improve Your Spelling.

Examples of Order Mnemonics

Often, we need to remember the specific order of things. This can include scientific principles, music-related teachings, mathematical equations, and more. Here’s a great list of mnemonics to demonstrate just how handy they are.

The Order of Taxonomy

In science, species are organized under a number of categories. Think of them like Russian nesting dolls. The order, from largest to most specific, is as follows:

  • kingdom
  • phylum
  • class
  • order
  • family
  • genus
  • species

To help students remember the order of taxonomy, the following sentence is often used:

Kids prefer cheese over fried green spinach.

The first letter of each word in the sentence represents the category. So, “kids” represents “kingdom,” “prefer” represents “phylum,” “cheese” represents “class,” and so on. Let’s look at a few more examples.

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The Order on a Music Staff

When reading music, the notes on the staff (the lines) with a treble clef are: E, G, B, D, F. To help new students of music remember the order of the notes, the following sentence can be memorized:

Every good boy deserves fun.

As for the spaces on the same staff, they read as follows: F, A, C, E. To remember that order, there’s this wonderful mnemonic device:

Furry animals cook excellently.

Next, we have the lines on the staff with a bass clef, as read from the bottom: G, B, D, F, A. For this, musical students often use this line:

Good boys do fine, always.

Order of the Planets

Let’s return to science. Do you know the order of the planets (from closest to furthest from the sun)? They are:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • Pluto

To help you remember the order, try this:

My very excited mother just served us nine pies.

Since Pluto has been removed from planet status, there’s a new mnemonic device in town that doesn’t include it:

My very educated mother just served us noodles.

Order of Math Operations

Let’s move onto math. When working out equations, there’s an order of operations to follow:

  • parentheses
  • exponents
  • multiplication
  • division
  • addition
  • subtraction

To remember this order, try:

PEMDAS: Please excuse my dear aunt Sally.

The Order of the Great Lakes

Mnemonics are also useful when studying geography. To remember the order of the Great Lakes from west to east, try:

Super Man helps every one.

Technically, “Superman” and “everyone” should be one word each. But, mnemonics enjoy a little bit of wiggle room if the shoe fits. This device will help you remember the order of the lakes:

  • Superior
  • Michigan
  • Huron
  • Erie
  • Ontario

Just don’t forget to put the proper noun “Lake” before each title, as in “Lake Superior,” “Lake Michigan,” and so on.

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The First Eight U.S. Presidents

How about a little history? If you have a quiz coming up on the order of the presidents, you can easily remember the first eight with this sentence:

Will a jolly man make a jolly visitor?

Each letter stands for the last name of each president, in order from the first:

  • George Washington
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Martin Van Buren

The Articles of the Constitution

The United States Constitution has seven articles, or sections, which detail how the government works. They are:

  • Article I - The Legislative Branch
  • Article II - The Executive Branch
  • Article III - The Judicial Branch
  • Article IV - The States
  • Article V - Amendment
  • Article VI - Debts, Supremacy, Oaths
  • Article VII - Ratification

To remember each article, students often refer to this mnemonic:

Large elephants jump slowly and die rapidly.

The Value of Pi

We saved the best for last. This one’s really fun. Below, you’ll find a sentence containing eight words. Each word stands for the numerals in pi. They are: 3.1415927. How does each word represent each numeral? Well, the number of letters in each word equals each numeral. Here’s the sentence:

May I have a large container of coffee?

You’ll notice that:

  • “May” has three (3) letters.
  • “I” has one (1).
  • “Have” has four (4).
  • “A” has one (1).
  • “Large” has five (5).
  • “Container” has nine (9).
  • “Of” has two (2).
  • And “coffee” plus the question mark has seven (7).

Who said you couldn’t have fun with math?

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Examples of Acronym Mnemonics

Acronyms are short words formed by a series of letters. Typically, they’re the first letter of each word in a phrase. If you think it seems like they’d work hand in hand with mnemonics, you’re right! Take a look at this list of list of mnemonics containing acronyms.

The Spectrum of Colors

The spectrum of colors are as follows:

  • red
  • orange
  • yellow
  • green
  • blue
  • indigo
  • violet

They can be remembered using this acronym:

ROY G. BIV

Essential Amino Acids

The essential amino acids are as follows:

  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Isoleucine
  • Methionine
  • Histidine
  • Arginine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine

To remember them, try to recall this fictional fellow:

Pvt. Tim Hall

Pvt. is the abbreviation for “Private,” a class of soldier within the United States military.

Treating a Sprain

If you sprain your ankle (or any other body part), there’s a specific order for treating the injury. It is:

  • Rest the injured area.
  • Ice the sprain.
  • Compress with a wrap or bandage.
  • Elevate the injured area.

When the time comes, don’t panic. Just remember the following mnemonic:

RICE

Coordinating Conjunctions

Have you studied coordinating conjunctions yet? They’re the most popular form of conjunctions. They join ideas together with words like:

  • for
  • and
  • nor
  • but
  • or
  • yet
  • so

To remember these words, think of a crowd of boys at a rock concert, otherwise known as:

FANBOYS

The Great Lakes

Remember the fun we had with the Great Lakes above? Super Man helps every one? Well, if the order doesn’t matter and you just want to remember the names, here’s an acronym for you:

HOMES

You can probably guess the names this time around:

  • Huron
  • Ontario
  • Michigan
  • Erie
  • Superior
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Examples of Rhyme or Poem Mnemonics

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Sometimes it’s the melody that sticks; sometimes it’s the lyrics. There are some useful rhyming mnemonics that’ll help you remember essential life facts.

Thirty Days Hath September

If you’ve ever tried to remember which months have 30 days and which have 31 days, there’s a helpful rhyming mnemonic for that:

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine each leap year

Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

History lessons are full of important dates to remember. When it’s time to study Christopher Columbus’ explorations, try this useful mnemonic:

In fourteen hundred ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

I Before E Except After C

Ah, grammar rules. Sometimes, all you can say about the rules of the English language are “because my teacher said so.” When it comes to spelling and vowels, the best way to remember the tricky “I” and “E” duo is to say this:

I before E except after C
Or when sounding like A
As in neighbor and weigh

Here are 11 more rules of grammar to consider! Next up, let’s take a look at two poems that will help sailors predict what tomorrow’s weather might look like.

Red Sky at Night

If you enjoy meteorology, you might consider some of these generally accepted truths:

Red sky at night
Shepherd's delight
Red sky in the morning
Shepherd's warning

A red sky means there’s dust in the air, which shows high pressure, meaning good weather is coming. At dawn, a red sky may also mean dust, indicating a storm is moving in from the west. Red may also mean humidity, which may foretell rain.

Rainbow in the morning
Travelers take warning
Rainbow at night
Travelers' delight

A rainbow in the morning would be visible in the west, so a storm is approaching. A rainbow in the evening means the storm has already passed from west to east.

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Mnemonic Madness

Aren’t mnemonics fun? They can help you remember so many things in life. Whether it’s history, math, science, spelling, or generally accepted truths about life, a good mnemonic device can help you remember absolutely anything under the sun.

If you’d like to make the most out of mnemonics when studying for spekking, check out these Study Habits for Spelling Tests. They’ll be sure to help you ace the next bee or quiz.