Struggle To Remember Exact Word Trick Helpers
June 2, 2009 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Was relating a couple mnemonics to a friend, words or common abbreviations that are spelled by using the first letters of a group of things. Those that came to mind: HOMES for the Great Lakes, A PAIL for types of wounds and ETC for people who attend religious services on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Possibly shoddy Google-fu leaves me unable to find more (not the ROY G BIV variety), but here's hoping the Hive Mind can share some.
posted by ambient2 to Writing & Language (40 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Doctors use a lot of them.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:12 AM on June 2, 2009

Something like PEMDAS work for you? (Order of mathematical operations.)
posted by inigo2 at 7:14 AM on June 2, 2009

God, Everybody Loves Notre Dame
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy
The first five books of the Old Testament.
posted by mmascolino at 7:15 AM on June 2, 2009

NATO, for computer scientists to remember the order of execution for logical operators: Not, And to Or
posted by unixrat at 7:18 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

PANIC for electrode names

Positive: Anode, Negative Is Cathode

CIVIL for electronics

in a Capacitor the I (current) leads Voltage, Voltage leads I (current) in an inductor L
posted by Tapioca at 7:22 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Music educators, at least those who have the time and budget with elementary-age children to go beyond rhythm notations pounded out with sticks of wood, and progress to teaching the notes on the treble clef staff using recorders or xylophones, can use simple mnemonics to teach the notes.

Tones notated between the lines on the staff are, from bottom up, F-A-C-E, or "face".

The memorization mechanism for tones notated upon the five lines on the staff (E-G-B-D-F) isn't quite as simple; my teacher back in second grade (Mr. Nicotera; an awesome teacher all around) used what (given your definition of mnemonic) might be called a reverse mnemonic to teach it: Every Good Boy Does Fine.
posted by The Confessor at 7:23 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I was in the Boy Scouts, they gave us the mnemonic I'M NO WIMP to help us remember the states that border the Great Lakes. Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania.
posted by box at 7:23 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

The seven deadly sins: WASPLEG = Wrath, Avarice, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, Gluttony.
posted by littlecatfeet at 7:26 AM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

"Oh be a fine girl kiss me (right now, smack)" for the sequence of stars OBAFGKM; RNS are more exotic and not part of the original mnemonic, I think.
posted by adamrice at 7:36 AM on June 2, 2009

In Seattle, they have JCMSUP for remembering the streets of core downtown, Jesus Christ Built Seattle Under Protest

Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike, Pine

Note that each letter represents two streets, unlike a normal mnemonic.
posted by nomisxid at 7:48 AM on June 2, 2009

King Philip Came Over From Genus Species (I know, wtf): Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species. There's also this variant.

Mother Very Eagerly Made Jelly Sandwiches Under No Protest: Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto

We also had one for the various geologic ages (Cambrian, Devonian, etc.); I can't remember what we used, but here's a compilation of them.

Finally, here's a whole mess of them across a variety of disciplines.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 7:56 AM on June 2, 2009

King Philip Came Over From Genus Species

Makes more sense the way I learned it: King Philip Called Out Fifty Good Soldiers.

That's a different kind of mnemonic, though, than the kind in which the first letters of the items to remember spell an unrelated word or words. I think the OP was looking for those.

I'm confused by why you say "not the ROY G BIV variety" because it seems like what you mean. do you mean it needs to be a legitimate word already? So for instance, GIGO wouldn't count because the letters don't form a familiar word?
posted by Miko at 8:01 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I always use "Please come over for games & snacks" to remember Phlyum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species

I'm curious as to why you would not include ROY G BIV in your list. A mnemonic is any memory aid, so both acronyms (initials that spell words) and phrases that share the same initials as a list would qualify as mnemonic.

And here is a whole dictionary of them.
posted by soelo at 8:01 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I learned it, "King Philip Came Over From Germany Sick"
posted by trip and a half at 8:07 AM on June 2, 2009

I was taught "Kings Play Chess On Fat Green Stools"

For property taxes, "No Darn Foolin' Around" for the due/late dates (November-December, February-April)
posted by Seboshin at 8:13 AM on June 2, 2009

Another variant: "King plays chess on fine-grained sand."
posted by monocot at 8:13 AM on June 2, 2009

I like mine better: Keep Putting Clothes On For Goodness Sakes
posted by stray at 8:14 AM on June 2, 2009

OP is looking for mnemonics that are *words*, so a lot of these aren't what s/he's looking for.

Doctors do use a lot. The hospital itself does, too. PASS is for the fire extinguishers (Pull Aim Squeeze Spray) and RACE is for evacuating (Rescue Alarm Confine Extinguish). Right now I have a big pile of PSST! pamphlets, which I don't know if it counts - Protect / Signs / Symptoms / Treatment (for the 'flu). Within that is CHIRP, (Cover cough, Healthy Hands, Isolation, Reduce Germs, [make] Prepare plans).
posted by cobaltnine at 8:17 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

King Phillip Comes Over For Good Sex.

Discussion over.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:22 AM on June 2, 2009

I can't find my copy here to check, but Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge: The Book of Mnemonic Devices is very thorough and probably has a lot of the word-like ones, as it has a lot of everything.
posted by sineala at 8:24 AM on June 2, 2009

King Phillip Came Over For Grape Soda, is how I learned it. And I use this mnemonic about once a week, unlike Big Chief SOHCAHTOA, which I never use.

Another one I encounter a lot is the 12-step mnemonic HALT, which reminds one not to engage in {behavior} when one is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:29 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

On point, there's always NEWS for the points of the compass.
posted by trip and a half at 8:33 AM on June 2, 2009

I recently used PCMCIA during a rather ridiculous phone interview for a tech job where the interviewer kept asking me about computer industry acronyms. PCMCIA - People can't memorize computer industry acronyms. (BTW He didn't know that they are now called PC cards... needless to say it isn't nice to show up the interviewer)
posted by Gungho at 8:35 AM on June 2, 2009

"Kingwood High Does Math/Geometry/Literature During Class Monday" for the more common metric prefixes: Kilo-, Hecto-, Deka- meter/gram/liter, Deci, Centi, Milli.
posted by tryniti at 8:36 AM on June 2, 2009

at school, my son was taught "never-eat-soggy-wheaties" for North, South, East, West
posted by Eicats at 8:42 AM on June 2, 2009

My favorite medical one: Some Say Marry Money But My Brother Says Big Boobs Matter Most

--for whether the cranial nerves from I to XII are Motor, Sensory, or Both.

I made up one myself to remember the streets, in order, between Burrard and Denman in Vancouver: Three Beautiful Jerks Brought Nicola's Car Bid Down

Thurlow, Bute, Jervis, Broughton, Nicola, Cardero, Bidwell, Denman.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:57 AM on June 2, 2009

Out of the blue the other day I remembered, "Fat Cats Go Dancing After Eating Breakfast" for the order of sharps in music writing. Folks upthread talked about "FACE" and "Every Good Boy Does Fine" on the treble clef. For the bass clef it is "Good Boys Do Fine Always" for the lines. There are a bunch more of music related mnemonics found on this website.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:04 AM on June 2, 2009

What to do for strains/sprains: RICE, or Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

Also, the one nomisxid is referring to is "Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest."
posted by illenion at 9:05 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm finding the variations (regional?) fascinating. I have never heard of PEMDAS before today, but had been taught BEDMAS in two different schools.

And while King Philip Comes Over For Good Sex is clearly the winner, I learned it as King Philip Came Over For Good Spaghetti.

I learned NEWS and Never Eat Shredded Wheat for the points on the compass, but preferred the latter since it actually gave you the points in clockwise order.
posted by consummate dilettante at 9:09 AM on June 2, 2009

You all are insane. The best taxonomy mneumonic is:

Kinky People Can Orgasm From Great Sex

Learn it, love it, live it.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:46 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I learned King Henry Dropped Over Dead Converting Metrics, where O for over is zero (the base unit).

If you have a sick stomach, try the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizza-pies is the planets in order (viva Pluto!).
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:09 AM on June 2, 2009

This sort of thing has a long history. If you want to kick it medieval theologian style, go with Saligia.
An early record of it is quoted in an edition of a work by Bartholomeis (Ostiensis or Hostiensis) who died in 1271. He explained the order as follows:–

"Sed et vij sunt principalia vitia, s[cilicet] Superbia, Accidia, Luxuria, Ira, Gula, Invidia, Avaricia. Unde ver[sus] Dat septem vitia dictio saligia."

Saligia is then a shuffling of the initial letters of the names of the Seven Capital Sins so as to form an artificial catchword, a compendious mnemonic.
posted by zamboni at 10:17 AM on June 2, 2009

Just to add one more option for Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species, I learned "Please Come Over For Gay Sex" from TV Funhouse (they had some other mnemonic devices, too), and it truly helped me in biology class.
posted by LolaGeek at 10:24 AM on June 2, 2009

The memorization mechanism for tones notated upon the five lines on the staff (E-G-B-D-F) isn't quite as simple; my teacher back in second grade (Mr. Nicotera; an awesome teacher all around) used what (given your definition of mnemonic) might be called a reverse mnemonic to teach it: Every Good Boy Does Fine.

I heard it as "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge." I took piano, too, so I had to learn two different staffs of music -- one for each hand -- and in the bass staff, the notes on the five lines were G, B, D, F, and A, for which I was given the mnemonic, "Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always."

In England, sometimes the first one is rendered as "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour," a phrase which Tom Stoppard nicked for the title of one of his plays.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on June 2, 2009

Oh, and the spaces on the bass staff? A, C, E, and G, which you remember with the phrase "All Cows Eat Grass."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:00 AM on June 2, 2009

Certain verbs in the French language are treated differently than others when used in the past tense; the first letters of those verbs can be arranged to form the phrase "DR + MRS VANDERTRAMP". (hell if I can remember which verbs those are now, but I the name of the good doctor and his wife has stuck with me.)

also, I learned it as "King Philip Came Over From Great Spain"
posted by xbonesgt at 11:04 AM on June 2, 2009

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 ("USA PATRIOT Act").
posted by kirkaracha at 11:26 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mr Stockdale, my very strange A level chemistry teacher just made the chemical symbols for the first row of the transition elements into a word... I still remember it 25 years later (although the mental image of him capering around while almost singing it probably helps).

Sctivcrmnfeconicuzn (skuh-tiv-cruh-muhn-feh-cony-cousin).

Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc.
posted by itsjustanalias at 2:37 PM on June 2, 2009

I forgot the FAN BOYS; for conjunctions:

For And Nor But Or Yet So semicolon
posted by Miko at 3:01 PM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Trigonometry: SOH CAH TOA
Sine = opposite/hypotenuse
Cosine = adjacent/hypotenuse
Tangent = opposite/adjacent

Which means that in a right triangle the sine of one of the acute angles is the measure of the opposite side over the measure of the hypotenuse.
posted by soelo at 10:31 AM on June 3, 2009

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