Verses or rhymes used to help you to remember things are known as mnemonics. They’re sometimes made of the the first letters of a series of words you want to memorise. For example, Richard of York gives battle in vain for the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green blue, indigo, violet); Every good boy deserves fudge for the lines of the treble clef of a musical stave (e, g, b, d, f), and My Very Efficient Monkey Just Sorted Unused Napkins for the major planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune).

Do you have any other interesting mnemonics in other languages?

This entry was posted in Language, Memory.

20 Responses to Mnemonics

  1. Josh says:

    I seem to remember a couple in french:

    ISABEL= Italie, Suisse, Allemagne, Belgique, Espagne, Luxembourg
    (pays qui touchent à la France)

    Mon Vieux, Tu M’as Jeté Sur Une Navette= Mercure, Vénus, Terre, Mars, Jupiter, Saturne, Uranus, Neptune
    (l’ordre des planètes)

  2. Mike says:

    Here’s one for the order of the planets in German:
    “Mein Vater erklärt mir jeden Sonntag unsere neun Planeten.”

    Now I guess they’ll have to come up with a new one, though, since this is obsolete. Poor Pluto. :(

  3. parkbench says:

    A mnemonic of sorts is the “Iroha” panagram to remember the order of the Japanese かな (kana).

  4. Ben L. says:

    Skirting the boundaries of both iroha and “Every good boy does fine/deserves fudge” we find Guido da Arezzo and the poem “Ut queant laxis”, whence our modern solfege, i.e. “do-re-mi”. Note that the syllable “ut” has been replaced by “do”.

  5. Tomensnaben says:

    For the colours I learned the name “Roy G. Biv.” Then there’s taxonomy (kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, species”: “Kings play chess on green squares” or “King Phillip came over for good sex” (Can I say that?).

    Anyway, I never cared for them. You see, I always learned them after I had always memorised the items normally. But after I heard the Mnemonic, I couldn’t bring up the information without it.

  6. TJ says:

    I remember when I was in highschool, our Arabic language teacher told us this one: سألتمونيها
    which means “you (pl.) asked it from me” (yes all of that in one word)

    these letters all together are used in Arabic sometimes to edit some verbs and make them change in variety.

    Also, there is صنفكم which means “your (pl.) type”
    and these are the collection of the letters that change their shapes at the end of the word in the hebrew abjad!

  7. Podolsky says:

    Russian has a similar sentence to Richard of York gives battle in vain for memorizing the colours of the rainbow: каждый охотник желает знать где сидит фазан – красный, оранжевый, желтый, зеленый, голубой, синий, фиолетовый.
    There are also a few sentences for the pi number. In old (pre-revolutionary) school pupils learned verses for learning Latin words with their gender.

  8. Alex says:

    There are a couple of Hebrew mnemonics that have been incorporated into the liturgy. In the Passover Seder, for example, there’s a sixteen-word poem at the beginning that sets out the order of the activities during the evening, one (or two) words per activity; further along, when listing the Ten Plagues, we recite a mnemonic, דצ”ך עד”ש באח”ב (Detsakh Adash Be’achav), formed from their initial letters.

    Also, TJ’s first example reminds me of a pair of Hebrew grammatical mnemonics: איתן (“Ethan”) for the verbal pronominal prefixes, and משה וכלב (“Moses and Caleb”) for all other prefixes (such as relative, definite article, etc.).

  9. jdotjdot89 says:

    There are many, many instances like what Alex said–and those are really more acronyms than mnemonics. Another example of those is בג”ד כפ”ת, which is the list of which Hebrew letters can take a דגש קל (soft dagesh), for those of you who know Hebrew grammar. There’s one also for the letters after which בג”ד כפ”ת doesn’t take a soft dagesh, but I’ve forgotten it at the moment.

  10. Alex says:

    jdot, that would be אהו”י.

  11. Bukvoed says:

    In Norwegian, I learned ROGGBIF for the colours of the rainbow (rød, oransj, gul, grønn, blå, indigo, fiolett) – it’s not a really good mnemonic since it’s not a real word or anything (it’s pronounced as though it’s spelled ROGGBIFF) like it.

    I still remember the way my elementary school teacher taught us how to come up with what the terms of adjective comparison was. ‘Postmannen kommer med suppe’ – positiv, komperativ, superlativ.

  12. Bukvoed says:

    Forgot to add what the phrase means: ‘the mailman is coming with soup’.

  13. bulbul says:

    My highschool math teacher once gave us this as an aid in memorizing the first ten digits of pi (in Slovak, NB the number of letters in each word):

    Daj ó milá ó dobrá zapamätať si takýto čísel rad
    3. 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3

    (Help us, oh gentle one, oh good one, remember this row of numbers).

  14. Pjotr says:

    “Spring Forward, Fall Back”. Wintertime is coming! Should the clock go forward or backward? This

    mnemonic device tells us how to adjust the clock on the 28th October. In the fall (autumn) the

    clock will be set back an hour. This and many other mnemonic devices can be found on


    Pjotr Wiese

  15. I’ve just written a book;”Crazy Herb’s Hebrew Words or Memory Systems For Learning Jewish Culture and Modern Hebrew”. You can read about it at “”. I’d be interested in any comments.
    Herb Fried

  16. firewall says:

    Luogo interessante, buon disegno, lo gradisco, signore! =)

  17. Applethorn says:

    My personal fave: “Lefty-loosy, righty-tighty,” reminds me in which direction to turn things on or off (nuts/bolts, etc). This has been very useful to me — but it sounds so silly I’ve never told it to anyone. Hope it helps somebody out there!

    I use melody to memorize new information. When my daughter was about 2 years old, I made a song to teach her our address and phone number. Since then I have used this method to memorize whatever string of numbers or information I need to know.

    You need a little privacy to do this, unless you don’t mind people thinking you are a little crazy… I am leading a once-a-week Spanish club at the school where my daughter is now in 4th grade. I am teaching them to sing/chant the alphabet in Spanish, to the old Army “sound-off” song — I don’t know if it has a name — the kids think I’m crazy, but they like Spanish club.

  18. Volt says:

    We have sentencies for periodical table of elements. I remember for first group only:

    Hezká Lída našla krásný rubín císaře Františka.
    Helium Lithium Natrium Kalium Rubidium Caesium Francium

    Nice Lidia found a beautiful ruby of the emperor Frantz.

  19. Volt says:

    First is Hydrogen, of course :(

  20. PP says:

    Šetři se osle.
    šest tři sedm osm
    6 3 7 8
    6378km = equatorial radius of Earth