# Adults and Mnemonic DevicesDecember 20, 2005 9:19 AM   Subscribe

A conversation w/ a friend has left me curious about adults and mnemonic devices. What mnemonics, perhaps learned or created as a student, do AskMefi-ites still 'consult'?
posted by boombot to Education (127 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me (Right Now Smack) for spectral types in stars.
posted by headlessagnew at 9:25 AM on December 20, 2005

The name Roy G Biv, standing for
Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet
posted by juggler at 9:25 AM on December 20, 2005

I made this one up for setting the table:

Knife and spoon = five letters each. Right = five letters.
Fork = four letters. Left = four letters.

Of course, I only had to use it three or four times after inventing it.
posted by jon_kill at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2005

Stationery (letters) has the letter E in it. Stationary (staying put) does not.

When teaching my kids to identify lower-case letters, they always get b and d mixed up. We say that B has a belly and D doesn't.

And, embarrassingly, I still occasionally hold up my hands to see which one makes the letter L so I can tell my left from my right.
posted by SashaPT at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2005

Righty tighty, Lefty loosey
posted by like_neon at 9:30 AM on December 20, 2005

"Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain" for the colours of the rainbow
posted by patricio at 9:32 AM on December 20, 2005

Port Out, Starboard Home
posted by jon_kill at 9:33 AM on December 20, 2005

Double the C, Double the S and you will always have SuCCeSS.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:33 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

Run Oh You Great Big Idiotic Vampire is more fun that Roy G Biv.
posted by jon_kill at 9:33 AM on December 20, 2005

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally - order of operations - Parentheticals, Exponentials, Mutiply, Divide, Add, Subtract.

Thank you Mrs Kaufman, wherever you are!
posted by Biblio at 9:35 AM on December 20, 2005

FOIL = First Inside Outside Last for multiplying polynomials.
posted by jon_kill at 9:35 AM on December 20, 2005

HOMES = Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior.
posted by jon_kill at 9:36 AM on December 20, 2005

SOHCAHTOA for remembering trigonometry.
posted by jon_kill at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2005

I second "Righty tighty, lefty loosey" and "Roy G. Biv."

"Thirty days hath September, April, June and November. All the rest have thirty-one..." (does that count?)

"Every Good Boy Does Fine."
posted by SassHat at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2005

Mary Virginia Eats Many Jam Sandwiches Under Nellie's Porch for the planets of the solar system.
posted by idigress at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2005

HOMES for the Great Lakes. Roy G. Biv, and SashaPT's hand thing. And, of course, "Some Eat Pine Tar SlowlY."
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:38 AM on December 20, 2005

"If hundred-base-T you wish to do, split the green and reverse the blue."

I use this when making my own network cables. I had to make it up because I could always remember to put the orange pair to the left, and the brown pair to the right, but I could never remember what to do with the blue and green pairs (which occupy the middle 4 pins)

This rhyme tells me to arrange the pins thusly
1 orange/white
2 orange
3 green/white
4 blue
5 blue/white
6 green
7 brown/white
8 brown
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:38 AM on December 20, 2005

On spelling 'millennium', by Dave Barry:

Two N's and two L's
Then you've spelled it very well
One L or one N
You're a big fat stupid hen
posted by agropyron at 9:39 AM on December 20, 2005

BTW, I know it's not mnemonic, but it's a memory aid for me, at least.
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:40 AM on December 20, 2005

Randy Indian Virgins Use X-rated Garters - we made up for physics classes at school.
posted by biffa at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2005

in remembering the number of days in a month, make a fist, and tap yr index finger knuckle (jan=31) the space between the knuckle and yr middle finger knuckle (feb= 28ish), middle finger knuckle (march=31)...etc. till you get to yr little finger knuckle that you tap twice (july & aug=31) and you just go back the way you came. hard to explain...easy to show
posted by ShawnString at 9:43 AM on December 20, 2005

When I had to study the OSI network model, someone made up "Please DoN'T SPAnk" for Physical, Data link, Network, Transport, Session, Presentation, Application. It's stupid but it stuck. Not that it's that useful to me or anything, but I won't ever forget it.
posted by bDiddy at 9:49 AM on December 20, 2005

In ninth grade electronics class we were taught the mnemonic for the color coding of resistors as, "bad boys rape our young girls but violet goes willingly." I'm guessing that they don't still teach it that way.
posted by octothorpe at 9:49 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

I routinely use the knuckle counting trick for figuring out which months have 30 days in them.

I also use Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly because I can never remember the damn resistor codes.
posted by plinth at 9:50 AM on December 20, 2005

Re: music

Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle (order of sharps)
Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father (order of flats)

The only thing I retain from years of piano lessons, except some mediocre skill at the keys.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 9:51 AM on December 20, 2005

On occasion, I have used a pi mnemonic, as follows:

How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy chapters involving quantum mechanics. One is, yes, adequate even enough to induce some fun and pleasure for an instant, miserably brief.

Each word represents a digit of pi by the number of letters it contains. (i.e., How = 3, I = 1, want = 4) This gets you 31 decimal places.
posted by cacophony at 9:51 AM on December 20, 2005

Kings Play Chess on Fat Girls' Stomachs.
posted by LarryC at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2005

I like Heinlein's version of the planet mnemonic: Mother Very Thoughtfully Made A Jelly Sandwich Under No Protest. Earth = Terra and the asteroid belt is included between Mars and Jupiter.
posted by zanni at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2005

Good page for this:
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/English_mnemonics
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2005

I suppose, as an afterthought, I should point to this work of genius, which could be considered a mnemonic device and has the same pi encoding, although I don't know if anyone would use it as such...
posted by cacophony at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2005

Dang, plinth beat me to the resistor one.

First eighteen elements in the periodic table:
Here He Lies Beneath Bed Clothes, Nothing On, Feeling Nervous. Naughty Margaret Always Sighs, "Please Stop Clowning Around."

(H He Li Be B C N O F Ne Na Mg Al Si P S Cl Ar.)
posted by hangashore at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2005

Spring [clocks go] forward, fall [clocks go] back.
posted by pollystark at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2005

My Very Easy Method: Just Set Up Nine Planets
posted by bDiddy at 9:54 AM on December 20, 2005

"Red", "left", and "port" all have fewer letters than "green", "right", and "starboard".

The word "accommodate" can accommodate both two "c"s and two "m"s.
posted by nicwolff at 9:55 AM on December 20, 2005

I used to have trouble remembering which side of the woman the man is supposed to stand on in contra and ceilidh dancing, until someone told me that "women like to be right."
posted by grouse at 9:57 AM on December 20, 2005

ShawnString writes "in remembering the number of days in a month, make a fist,"

If you make two fists and just put them together you don't have to remember the double tap.

Make two fists. Put them together back of the hands up. Read from left to right. Kunkles are 31 day months valleys are 30(28):

Little left kunckle = January = 31 days
Valley between Little left and Ring left = Febuary = short = 28
Ring left Knuckle = March = 31 days
Valley between Ring and Middle = April = 30
Ring Knuckle = May = 31
Ring-index valley = June = 30
Left Index Knuckle = July = 31
Right index Knuckle = August = 31
Right Index-Middle valley = Septemeber = 30
Right middle = October = 31
Right middle-ring valley = November = 31
Right Ring = December = 31

Not really a mnemonic device though.

I do use " A friend is a friend to the end" to remember that friend is spelt friend not freind.
posted by Mitheral at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2005

Because I still teach some neuroanatomy:

"Oh Oh Oh To Touch And Feel Virgin Girls Vaginas Always Helps"

to memorise the cranial nerves.

Funnily enough, the students never forget that.

And my mnemonic for the first 20 of the periodic table:
Harold He Likes Beer Bottled, Cold Not Over Frothy. Nelly's Natty MG Always Sits Parked. Crazy Claire Armwrestles KingKong's Cat.
posted by gaspode at 10:00 AM on December 20, 2005

Every Green Bus Drives Fast.. lines on the treble clef. This one particularly stood out as our music teacher made it up and we lived in an area where all the buses were green at the time.
posted by wackybrit at 10:00 AM on December 20, 2005

More (electro)chemistry ones:

Leo (Loss of Electrons is Oxidation)
and
Reg (Reduction is Electron Gain)

An Ox and a Red Cat
(the Anode is for Oxidation, while Reduction is at the Cathode.)
posted by hangashore at 10:00 AM on December 20, 2005

Righty tighty, left loosey (which I learned as an adult and am still grateful for)
Roy G Biv
Thirty days has September....

And "Go Eat PopCorn" to remember the order of the Epistles Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Corinthians
posted by clh at 10:01 AM on December 20, 2005

LarryC writes "Kings Play Chess on Fat Girls' Stomachs."

What the heck is KPCFGS?
posted by Mitheral at 10:01 AM on December 20, 2005

What the heck is KPCFGS?

Kings Play Canucks Friday: Gretzky Scores

(Kingdom Phylum Class Family Genus Species)
posted by hangashore at 10:04 AM on December 20, 2005

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pumpkins, for the order of the planets.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:06 AM on December 20, 2005

Will A Jolly Man Make A Jolly Visitor? for the first US presidents.
posted by judith at 10:07 AM on December 20, 2005

Dammit, that'd be Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species.

(Kings Play Canucks On Friday: Gretzky Scores)
posted by hangashore at 10:07 AM on December 20, 2005

Every good boy does fine; FACE

notes for lines and spaces of treble staff, from bottom up.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:08 AM on December 20, 2005

Slightly different (than Wikipedia) one for the Cenozoic:

Put Eggs On My Plate Please Henry

(Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pleistocene, Holocene)
posted by daveleck at 10:10 AM on December 20, 2005

Oh dang - that should have read:

(Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, Holocene)
posted by daveleck at 10:11 AM on December 20, 2005

I said it back then, I'll say it again...

We never were taught a mnemonic for the colours of the rainbow either, for us it was just a sing song "Violent, Indigo, Blue and Green (take a breath) Yellow, Orange, Red"

For resistor colour codes, we were taught "B. B. ROY of Great Britain has a Very Good Wife" it has extra words to make a sentence. Now I remember it using "Badly burnt resistors on your ground bus void general warrantee"
posted by riffola at 10:13 AM on December 20, 2005

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
Empty the Garbage Before Dad Flips ... both from that musical thingy. Thank you Miss Gibbons!

And, embarrassingly, I still occasionally hold up my hands to see which one makes the letter L so I can tell my left from my right.

Me too !

And I learned young that in the car, left was always "my side" and right was always "your side."
posted by Makebusy7 at 10:16 AM on December 20, 2005

BAGS (beauty, age, goodness, size) for the exceptions to the rule in French of adjectives coming after the noun. (BAGS come first).
posted by Flamingo at 10:18 AM on December 20, 2005

Monkeys Eat Peanut Butter

For methane, ethane, propane and butane...
posted by ny_scotsman at 10:22 AM on December 20, 2005

FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) for coordinating conjunctions. Invaluable for my "make the comma your bitch" lecture.
Which I am currently ignoring.
posted by bibliowench at 10:24 AM on December 20, 2005 [2 favorites]

Can Oscar See Down My Pants Pocket?

for the Paleozoic Era, although this mnemonic reflects a US bias

(Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, Permian)

Also, stalaCtites are on the Ceiling, stalaGmites are on the Ground.
posted by luneray at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2005

King Philip Came Over For Great Soup:
Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species
posted by driveler at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2005

For the less healthy version:

My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas. For the planets.

I, too, use the LEFT=FORK RIGHT=KNIFE when setting the table.

What my SO remembers from grade school is something we still say joking around.
A! G! Get back here with my silver watch!
A! U! Get back here with my gold watch!
posted by phox at 10:27 AM on December 20, 2005

I have no use for it these days but I'll never forget this one: we were graphing slopes in math class and our teacher was trying to help us remember the difference between zero slope (a flat, horizontal line) and no slope (a vertical line).

He turned to the class, thrust his middle finger (a vertical line) at us and yelled, "NO SLOPE!!!"
posted by (alice) at 10:28 AM on December 20, 2005

Never Eat Shredded Wheat is the only way I remember compass directions.

Had an editor once who screamed at the top of his lungs one inch from my face that "there's A RAT in separate" and I've never mispelled it since.

also, Man Very Early Made Jar Stand Upright Neatly Period.
Except I guess there isn't a Pluto anymore....
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:29 AM on December 20, 2005

For the days of the month, I always still say "30 days hath September..."

And I'm embarrassed to say that I stick my hands out palm down to make sure I've got my left from my right. (Left forefinger and thumb make an L).
posted by lampoil at 10:31 AM on December 20, 2005

MR. SRIM for Japanese Bungo verb cases (mizenkei, renyoukei, shuushikei, rentaikei, izenkei, meireikei)

'Some Old Horse Caught A Horse Taking Oats Away' for figuring out Sine, Cosine and Tangent.
posted by Alison at 10:33 AM on December 20, 2005

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species

King Phil Came On Fran's Good Shirt
posted by superkim at 10:34 AM on December 20, 2005

Taxonomy:
Kids playing chess on freeways get squashed.
(kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species)

Redox:
OIL RIG
(oxidation is loss, reduction is gain [but you have to somehow remember that you're talking about electrons, not charge])

Roy g'Biv:
Randy old yaks get bovine immunodeficiency virus.
posted by Eothele at 10:39 AM on December 20, 2005

I still remember a weird tennis mnemonic for what happens when you raise i to different powers. Playing four sets, you win the first (+) then you lose the second and third (- -), then you win the last (+). When you win, you are so excited that you scream "i 1, i 1":

i^1= +i
i^2= -1
i^3= -i
i^4= +1

If that makes any sense (come to think if it, I have no idea why it couldn't be any game).

Also, "cosine uses the CLOsest SIde." And "righty-tighty". And "tibia=tight (what's touching if you put your legs tightly together), fibula=far".
posted by unknowncommand at 10:39 AM on December 20, 2005

In full, that's...

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except for February alone,
Which hath but twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine each leap year.

car
gem
boy

... when I was first learning color-correction and needed to memorize the opposing colors. cyan <> red (car), green <> magenta (gem), blue <> yellow (boy).

When people first learn to use computers, they have a hard time remembering to highlight a word before formatting it. So I've heard computer-trainers say...

Sellect then affect.

I make up my own mnemonics all the time to help me remember odd keyboard shortcuts. For instance, in After Effects, Command+Y (PC: Control+Y) creates a new Solid (a rectangle of any color). But there's no "Y" in "Solid," so I made up "WHY would I like a new Solid?"

In same same program, you press T to adjust Opacity. Many people remember this as OpaciTEE.
posted by grumblebee at 10:43 AM on December 20, 2005

Some Classical ones:

In Latin only certain prepositions take nouns in the Ablative case. My Latin teacher said all of these prepositions lived in a town together, an Ablative town; the town is called Cumsineinsubabdeexpro. I still use this often, though I need it less than I used to.

The "seven hills of rome" (there are more than seven, different people have different lists, but the mnemonic I learned is "CPA in QVEC": Capitoline Palatine Aventine Quirinal Viminal Esquiline Celian.

Oh, yeah, and PTK-BDG/LR: said out loud, rhythmically: Puh, Tuh, Kuh; Budduguh. Normally in Latin poetry, a vowel is scanned as long when if falls before a pair of consonants. But if the first of those consonants is any of the sounds of ptkbdg, and the second is L or R, then the vowel is short instead. E.g. in line 4 of bk 4 of Ovid's Fasti:

num uetus in molli pectore uulnus habes?

the O in "molli" is long, but the pEc in "pectore" is short.

ShawnString/Mitheral: you're both wrong; if you put up two fists you can't do any tapping at all, but you don't need to double-tap either. When you get to your pinky-knuckle in July, you wrap around and start again at August with your index-knuckle.

posted by xueexueg at 10:52 AM on December 20, 2005

King Philip Came Over For Great Soup

Mine is "King Philip Came Over For Good Sex."
posted by Gator at 10:53 AM on December 20, 2005

Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me (Right Now Smack) for spectral types in stars.

I took an introductory astronomy class in college in about 1993. My professor was a nice guy and a huge Celtics fan. As a jokey assignment, he had us come up with our own mnemonic devices for OBAFGKM. The one my friend and I came up with referred to the end of Larry Bird's career, and got a laugh from the prof:

Obviously, Boston's Aging Forward's Gonna Keel Momentarily.

A bit labored, and no longer relevant, but that's still how I remember the stars thingy.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:57 AM on December 20, 2005

Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure (sometimes "Protest")

This gives the order of streets in downtown Seattle moving south to north:
Jefferson
James
Cherry
Columbia
Marion
Spring
Seneca
University
Union
Pike
Pine

It's common also to confuse the order of Pike and Pine, but the N in Pine reminds me it's north of Pike.
posted by donovan at 11:00 AM on December 20, 2005

When teaching math, I change "please excuse my dear aunt Sally" to what my mother often had to tell the principal: "Please excuse my dumb-ass son."
Regarding cave deposits, stalagTites on the Top, stalagMites on the bottoM.
posted by notsnot at 11:04 AM on December 20, 2005

What I learned in highschool, by bonehead, age 12.

Never Go Down A Volcano Alone, declensions of the Latin noun: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Vocative, Ablative.
posted by bonehead at 11:06 AM on December 20, 2005

I don't own a boat, but a friend does and I will always remember "Red Right Return" as where you should be in the channel when returning to the marina. Red buoy on the Right side of your boat when you're Returning to the marina.
posted by SheIsMighty at 11:08 AM on December 20, 2005

To remember placement of the Great Lakes, I use SHO(w) ME. SHO are the top three, ME are on the bottom.
posted by wallaby at 11:10 AM on December 20, 2005

People Don't Need To See Prince's Ass -- or --
All People Seem To Need Delicious Pizza

used for remembering the seven layers of the OSI network model (forward or backward):
Physical
Data
Network
Transport
Session
Presentation
Application
posted by pmbuko at 11:13 AM on December 20, 2005

I learned the compass directions as Never Eat Slimy Worms.
posted by PY at 11:15 AM on December 20, 2005

Nine Girl Are Running Under A Wharf And Here I Am!
to spell Ngaruawahia .
You know, in case you're quizzed on the geography of the Waikato in New Zealand.
posted by slightlybewildered at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2005

BAGS (Beauty Age Goodness Size. For French adjectives that go before the noun)

SOH CAH TOA (Sine, cosine, tangent for right triangles)
posted by Hildago at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2005

Compass directions for me are "Never Eat Soggy Wheaties"
posted by rabbitsnake at 11:31 AM on December 20, 2005

Oh, and the way to tell the difference between Bactrian and Dromedary camels is that Bactrians have two humps, and so does the letter 'B'.. likewise the 'D' in Dromedary has one hump.

With elephants, the ears on African elephants looks like the continent of Africa.
posted by Hildago at 11:32 AM on December 20, 2005

SheIsMighty, on rivers, Red Right Return is used when going upstream, as in Red Right Returning from the Sea. Sometimes there is only one marker in a river and you need to know which side to stay on to stay in the channel. I don't know the navigation aids would work on a closed lake.
posted by tayknight at 11:38 AM on December 20, 2005

Order of east-west streets in downtown Columbus, Ohio: "Spring along gaily through the broad, stately town" (Spring St., Long St., Gay St., Broad St., State St., Town St.)
posted by kindall at 11:39 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

"Oh Oh Oh To Touch And Feel Virgin Girls Vaginas Always Helps"

My mother taught me two different mnemonics that she had learned in medical school, one for the cranial nerves as above :

"On Old Olympus, Towering Tops A Finn and German Viewed Some Hops"

and for the bones of the wrist:

"Never Lower Tilly's Pants, Grandma Might Come Home" (Navicular Lunate Triquetral Pisiform Greater Multangular Lesser Multangular Capitate Hamate)

Ones I actually use:

- the ll's in parallel are parallel.
- "red, right, returning" to remember how to navigate a boat.
- My classifications mnemonic: King Phillip Came Over For Great Sex
- All Chaperones Must Previously Have Had Sex (human classification - Animal, Chordata, Mammalia, Primata, Hominidae, Homo sapiens)
- "SLIC Men R Red" systems of the body (Skeletal, Lymphatic, Integumentary, Cardiovascular, Muscular, Endocrine, Nervous, Respiratory, Reproductive, Excretory, Digestive)
- She was all gal (ALGAL) and he was a fun guy (FUNGI); they took a likin' (LICHEN) to each other.
- I. P. on the M. A. T. (Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase)

I also had more that I used in the short term for tests and so forth, but I can't recall them at the moment.
posted by nekton at 11:43 AM on December 20, 2005

Still do the hand thing for left and right--although, weirdly enough, I don't think I learned about it until I was an adult (I would have killed for it as a child). My mother always had to resort to writing a little bit in the air to make sure she could tell her right hand from her left.

Of course, the finger-L doesn't work if you're dyslexic; as my dear friend explained years ago, "these both look like Ls to me!"
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:46 AM on December 20, 2005

Honestly, mnemonics have always confused me more than just learning the actual concept. For year, for instance, I could screw and unscrew easily, until I learned "righty tighty, lefty loosey", which always pops up to interfere with the actual screwing. Similar with FOIL and mnemonics for the nine solar system planets.

It's easier (for me) just to remember the real things.
posted by orthogonality at 11:51 AM on December 20, 2005

For Kingdom, Phylum etc., I learned and occasionally use "King Philip Came Over From Germany Stoned."

I remember, though rarely use "All Altruists Gladly Make Gum In Gallon Tanks" to remember the 2^3 simple sugars, allose altrose glucose mannose gulose inose galactose tannose.

"Red cat, an ox". (Reduction at cathode, at anode oxidation.)

And Roy G Biv, Righty Tighty, 30 Days like so many other people.
posted by Aknaton at 11:53 AM on December 20, 2005

Every Good Boy Does Fine can also be phrased as Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, or my personal favorite, Elvis's Guitar Broke Down Friday.

When I was in college, my friend Steve was having trouble remembering the names and identities of two freshman, Don and Doug, so for him I made up what is possibly the least useful mnemonic device ever: Doug ends with G, which stands for glasses, which are what Don wears.

And from way upthread, My Very Easy Method: Just Set Up Nine Planets beats the hell out of every other planet mnemonic device I've ever heard. I'll finally be able to remember the order now. Thanks.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:02 PM on December 20, 2005

All cows eat grass
All cars eat gas
All children eventually grow

(spaces for reading music in bass clef)
posted by Marnie at 12:03 PM on December 20, 2005

"King Philip Came Over For Great Soup"
"King Philip Came Over For Good Sex"

King Philip Came Over For Green Stamps (I'm old).

For stalagmites and stalactites, "When the mites go up, the tights come down."

Treble clef; FACE (lines), Every Good Boy Does Fine (spaces).

nekton - I use that for "parallel" too!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:04 PM on December 20, 2005

I don't think I saw this one mentioned, and it doesn't apply directly per se, but I like the L of left thumb and forefinger to simulate a lowercase 'b' of bread and the lowercase 'd' made of the right hand's thumb and forefinger for drink. Useful when figuring out whose bread dish and water is whose at a crowded table.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 12:26 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

Kings Play Chess on Fridays Generally Speaking (Kingdom, phylum, etc.)
Good Boys Do Fine Always (Bass clef on the lines)
posted by mfbridges at 12:35 PM on December 20, 2005

ABC = Allen St, Blair St, Cambridge Tce (streets in Wellington NZ -- everybody gets the first two confused, especially when organising meals at Indian restaurants).
posted by John Shaft at 12:36 PM on December 20, 2005

luneray -- I learned it as Come Over Some Day Maybe Play Poker: Three Jacks Call Two Queens.
(Covering Mesozoic & Cenozoic as well.)
I have trouble with the Three Jacks Call Two Queens part because I don't know anything about poker, but generally I remember the periods on my own. I mix up two and three when I try to tell the device to other people, but it really doesn't matter. I like yours for Paleozoic better.

I learned KPCOFGS in middle school to the tune of Yankee Doodle, so in my head I always sing it.

For spelling "dessert," I remember the extra s because you always want more; that's the nature of dessert. :p
posted by Marit at 12:41 PM on December 20, 2005

That's how I remember it too.

- SUBAA [since, until, before, after, as] for prepositions that are also subordinate conjunctions (and can be used as adverbial phrases)
- I Prefer Milk And Tea (Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase)
posted by jessamyn at 12:47 PM on December 20, 2005

You can spell dessert with one "s" if AWOL.

Every American Dame Gets Babies Eagerly.
Guitar tuning.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:53 PM on December 20, 2005

- stalagmites (g=ground); stalactites (c=ceiling)
- Always called the hand-month counter the "knuckle calendar"
- Anybody learn any mnemonics for British monarchs, or the popes?
- Hey, slightlybewildered, do you have any hints for spelling "Whangaparaoa"?
posted by rob511 at 12:58 PM on December 20, 2005

I'm sure I had more of these in college, but this is the only one I remember. Say "tryptophan" with a lisp as "twiptophan" and you get "W" as its symbol. Somehow lisping was rationalized as something you'd do when you get sleepy (as tryptophan does), but I don't remember now.
posted by artifarce at 1:17 PM on December 20, 2005

The 12 cranial nerves: On Old Oympus' Towering Top, A Fat-Assed German Viewed Some Hops. (The only thing with that is that I keep thinking it should be "brewed some hops".)

The planets of the solar system: Mark's Very Extravagant Mother Just Sent Us Ninety Parakeets.

Port from starboard: There's a little red port left in the bottle. (This one is the one I need the most, because I can't navigate a boat without it.)
posted by tracicle at 1:26 PM on December 20, 2005

Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls, But Violet Gave Willingly.
Black brown red orange yellow green blue violet gray white for the colors on resistors (0-9).
Sober physists don't find giraffes hiding in kitchens like mine.
Electron orbitals, really you don't need more than f. I think there are related ones for spectrographic notation (I think it's "jungle kitchens" then).
posted by 445supermag at 1:39 PM on December 20, 2005

The one I use for the OSI Model:

Please Don't Throw Sausage Pizza Away
= Physical, Datalink, Transport, Session, Presentation, Application
posted by entropy at 1:43 PM on December 20, 2005

For amino acids, "Arrrh"ginine (like a pirate) to remember R for arginine. Leucine is L, so lysine can't also be L so it's the closest unused letter, K. The two acids are D and E, in alphabetical order, aspartic acid (D), glutamic acid (E). Phenylalanine (F) is its own mnemonic.
posted by 445supermag at 1:49 PM on December 20, 2005

With flatware, they also go in alphabetical order. There's also FOKS (pronounced 'fucks') for fork-O-knife-spoon.

The order of suits in poker is reverse alphabetical (SHDC).

Extended compass directions (e.g. "N by NW") are major direction first.

Definite is finite. Remuneration like money.

Mary's Violet Eyes Make Johnson Pee (SUN P). I learned a longer one as a kid but shortened it.

For the months, I've only needed "30 days hath September, April June and November".

"White is right, and the queen gets her color."
posted by fleacircus at 1:49 PM on December 20, 2005

Confusing your cations and anions? Cat-ions are paws-itive.
posted by adamk at 1:59 PM on December 20, 2005

Like almost everyone else, I use/have used Righty Tighty Lefty Loosey, 30 Days, FACE, Every Good Boy Does Fine, and Roy G. Biv.

For spelling embarrass: When you're embaRRassed, you get Really Red.

To spell encyclopedia: there was this little song I heard years ago (not Schoolhouse Rock, my mom used this in her school days too): "It's the en-cy-clo-pedia, E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A!"

And of course: I before E except after C, unless it's sounded like A, as in neighbor and weigh, or if it's weird.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:23 PM on December 20, 2005

The Seattle one reminded me of one I made up with a friend when both of us were new to Philadelphia. To memorize the major through streets in Center City (Race, Arch, Market, Chestnut, Walnut, Lombard, Spruce, Pine, South) we invented this mnemonic:

Relatives Always Make Country Western Lyrics Seem Pretty Logical, Sadly.

For standard tuning on a guitar:

Eat A Damn Good Breakfast Every Day.
posted by Miko at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2005

(the 'Day' is just to finish the sentence).
posted by Miko at 2:26 PM on December 20, 2005

My Very Easy Method: Just Set Up Nine Planets

That rocks.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:31 PM on December 20, 2005

I use the dessert one, as well. Two 's's in dessert because you always want more, but no one wants more deserts.

Also, for stalactites and stalagmites:
Stalactites cling TIGHT to the ceiling, stalagmites MIGHT grow there one day.

And when i was learning vocab words in high school for SATs, I had crazy mnemonics for all of them. The only one I remember is about my little brother and the meaning of 'duress':
Randy, if you don't do what I say, I will FORCE you to wear a du-ress!
posted by inging at 2:33 PM on December 20, 2005

- righty tighty, lefty loosey
- more dessert, less desert
- knuckle thing for the months
- port and left are the same number of letters, leaving starboard to be on the right
posted by deborah at 2:35 PM on December 20, 2005

I really like the "b for bread/d for drink" trick, mrmuhnrmuh. I usually end up waiting until someone else starts when I'm at a Fancy Lunch. Cool!
posted by SashaPT at 3:04 PM on December 20, 2005

The Old American Sat On His Coat And Hat - trigonometry

MOOCS - the Five Nations (Iroquois): Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca.
posted by tangerine at 3:06 PM on December 20, 2005

Another nautical one: Red Right Returning. Means to keep red channel-markers on your right while returning to a harbor/port, to stay in the channel.
posted by Miko at 3:17 PM on December 20, 2005

a pint's a pound the world around (at sea level) not very useful outside the US, I suppose
posted by Grod at 3:23 PM on December 20, 2005

Still do the L-shaped hand thing.

"Friends 'till the END" helps me not spell it freind.

Together is spelled "to get her".

When tying a tie, "the big guy is always right" reminds me that the larger end hangs down the right side of your neck.

And not strictly a mnemonic, but I tend to remember phone numbers/passwords as the shape or pattern they make on the keypad, rather than the number.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:56 PM on December 20, 2005

Leaves of three, let it be
Leaves of four, eat some more.
posted by 445supermag at 4:01 PM on December 20, 2005

I still used "J. Jason, DJ, FM/AM" for the names of the months till I was 30 or so.
posted by nicwolff at 4:01 PM on December 20, 2005

"Belief" contains "lie."
posted by kindall at 4:03 PM on December 20, 2005

In First Aid class, DR. ABC = Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Circulation.
posted by cbrody at 4:54 PM on December 20, 2005

All good mnemonics involve sin.

It's been a good decade since I needed a mnemonic to recall the cranial nerves, but I still teach medical students about the Finn and German On Old Olympus' Towering Top (above).

For the bones of the hand, I learned "Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can't Handle." (We call the multangular bones Trapezium and Trapezoid these days.)

For the branches of the facial nerve, top to bottom, we learned some kind of wack-ass clean mnemonic (really!), which I promptly replaced with "Ten Zebras Bit My Cock" (temporal, zygomatic, buccal, mandibular, cervical).

The deep nuclei of the cerebellum, medial to lateral: "Don't Ever Get Fucked." (dentate, emboliform, globose, fastigial.)

For the pudendal nerve's origin: "S-Two-Three-Four, keeps your pecker off the floor;" and the phrenic: "C-3,4,5 keeps the diaphragm alive."
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:25 PM on December 20, 2005

I use TRouBLe to remember the CSS shorthand notation, and "The green ship left port if the captain red (sic) right" for nautical orientation.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:30 PM on December 20, 2005

There's a site called Medical Mnemonics that lists several hundred mneumonic devices used by doctors. It's pretty funny to browse through, if you're not a doctor.
posted by clarissajoy at 7:26 AM on December 21, 2005

Remuneration like money.

Fuck. All this time I thought there was just one word, "renumeration" and not two different ones.....I feel like a schmuck.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:31 PM on December 21, 2005

Many people mispronounce anemone and nuclear.
It's easy if you imagine: an M, a knee, and a new, clear window.

FOIL = First Inside Outside Last for multiplying polynomials.
posted by jon_kill at 9:35 AM PST on December 20

Foiled again?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:45 AM on December 22, 2005

King Phil's Class Ordered Family Genes, Special.
I like that it was really close to what it stood for so I wouldn't forget the mnemonic.

For OSI layers:
All people seem to need data processing.

This might not count as a mnemonic, but to remember the streets in san francisco, I use mental images. For example, Webster and Pat Buchanan holding hands, facing the Bay (and Webster likes the ocean better because he's not mean, so he's on the west side).
posted by jewzilla at 11:06 PM on December 22, 2005

Port wine is red (port-side lights on a boat are red, starboard lights are green).

Names of rock layers on the Colorado Plateau near Lees Ferry, Arizona: “Many Canyon Walls Know No Capitalist Exploitation,” for the layers from bottom (oldest) to top: Moenkopi, Chinle, Wingate, Kayenta, Navajo, Carmel, and Entrada.

Close by, from top to bottom, “Every New Kangaroo Wants Chocolate Milk” (Entrada, Navajo, Kayenta, Wingate, Chinle, Moenkopi).
posted by gottabefunky at 5:23 PM on January 2, 2006

Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-two.
Divide that son of a bitch by two,
And that's how many Watts are in a Horsepower.
posted by Plutor at 7:31 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Dr. Mrs Vandertramp for French verbs that use "etre" in passe compose instead of "avoir"
posted by arcticwoman at 8:13 PM on May 19, 2006

445supermag said: Leucine is L, so lysine can't also be L so it's the closest unused letter, K.
I always thought of K as in breaK or lyse.
posted by exogenous at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2006