English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It is ironic that the name of a mental device which is supposed to make our lives easier is itself so hard to spell. Is there a mnemonic for the spelling of mnemonic?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Edwin Ashworth, aedia λ, Centaurus, Drew, tchrist Mar 17 '15 at 21:54

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but I do hope you're not just trying to be clever in a question. – Robusto Feb 6 '11 at 19:21
It's easier for me to remember "the way it sounds plus an extra M" than to remember another mnemonic. – tankadillo Feb 6 '11 at 19:23
@Robusto - I was reading the answer to a different question to my daughter (aged 13) and asked is she had any good questions, which is how this came up. I think she genuinely wanted to know an easy to remember way to spell mnemonic. – ukayer Feb 6 '11 at 20:07
I, for one, pronounce both the m and the n at the beginning of mnemonic, but this is not standard and is just a quirk of mine. I also like to pronounce the g at the beginning of gnu, the p at the beginning of ptarmigan, and other such aberrations. – JSBձոգչ Feb 6 '11 at 21:44
I picture Monica from the TV show "Friends" (whom I find quite attractive) with a big M tattooed on her knee. You know, an M on the knee of Monica = mnemonic. Hey, whatever works for you! – rhetorician Feb 23 '13 at 2:04

12 Answers 12

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Sure; repeat to yourself my niece is mnemonic.

This assumes that the mn is the source of difficulty and you don't need a mnemonic for the rest of the word.

share|improve this answer
+1 this one works – ukayer Feb 7 '11 at 15:32
+1. I'm convinced you made this up on the spot, which would be awesome. – jprete Nov 15 '11 at 1:13
@jprete: I'm glad you think so, since yeah, I did. :) – chaos Nov 15 '11 at 5:39

It might help to associate it to a word which is related etymologically: amnesia.

share|improve this answer

A collection of mnemonics for mnemonic from the web:

  • Memorization's Not Easy; Memory Often Needs Initial Cues
  • My Nanny Eats Mostly Old Noodles In Cans
  • Memory Needs Every Means Of Naming It Correctly
  • Mnemonics Neatly Eliminate Man's Only Nemesis - Insufficient Cerebral Storage
  • Many Nuns Enjoy Monks Only Not In Convents

But I think the best is @Peter Taylor's simple suggestion to remember amnesia.

share|improve this answer
i think the 2nd and the 5th are pretty good ; ) – xtarsy Nov 15 '11 at 10:20
I'd find it easier to just remember the letters than try to remember the 4th one. – Urbycoz Nov 15 '11 at 12:35
@Urbycoz Yeah, that's a good example of a bad mnemonic. – Hugo Nov 15 '11 at 12:44

If it were a class of words you're talking about, I'd say a mnemonic would be useful. But as you are referring to a single instance, why create a mnemonic that you will have to remember (and may get wrong) to remember a single word? That adds an unnecessary burden (and abstraction) to the task.

share|improve this answer
Mnemonics are just as much about specific instances as for general ones - for example, the use of "Naughty Elephants Squirt Water" to remember the clockwise order of the cardinal compass points. – HorusKol Feb 6 '11 at 22:59
@HorusKoi: That's four things, not one thing, and an order. Similarly, "I Don't Play Like My Aunt Lucy" lets you remember the musical modes: (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Myxolydian, Aeolian, Locrian) helps you remember seven things. My point is, a contrivance to help you remember a single word's spelling is actually forcing you to remember a lot more than just the spelling. – Robusto Feb 7 '11 at 1:07
Good point made, Robusto. +1 from me. – Arjun J Rao Feb 7 '11 at 14:54

M N E M O N I C.

Two M's
Two N's

M always comes before N

Never a P!
Never a U!

share|improve this answer
who dragged P and U into this whole mess? – Pranav Hosangadi Nov 15 '11 at 6:00
While we're at it- there's no F'in mnemonic. – Urbycoz Nov 15 '11 at 12:38
@PranavHosangadi, I think some people mistakenly think mnemonic is related to pneumonia, and come up with creative misspellings based on that. – Marthaª Nov 15 '11 at 20:09

Maybe try these to remember how to spell MNEMONICS:

  • Men Never Eat Many Oysters Near Ice Cold Swamps
  • Many New England Memories Of Nantuckett Ice Cold Shrimp
share|improve this answer
Who the hell can remember something like this ? – Arjun J Rao Feb 7 '11 at 14:53
@Arjun: I guess (hope) that that was the joke. :-) – ShreevatsaR Feb 7 '11 at 18:18
[A]: Men Never Eat Many .. what was it again? [B]: Dude, what are you talking about? [A]: I'm trying to recall the mnemonics for mnemonics .. [B]: D'uh! ;) – Lukman Jun 23 '11 at 9:35

My niece enjoys mnemonics only never in class.

share|improve this answer
But that requires you to remember that mnemonics starts with an m. – Urbycoz Nov 15 '11 at 12:37

My nanny Eva makes oranges not inch closer.

It's a weird one, but that's how it got stuck in my head!

share|improve this answer

Angry at his last trickery, Seinfeld said: "Mmmm... Newman!"

A bit more in the scientific side: pneumatics, air brakes on buses, trucks and trains are examples of pneumatic systems.

share|improve this answer

My 11 year old has just been interviewing people for his English project on spelling strategies and just came up with what I thought was a good mnemonic for mnemonic-

Men Never Eat Marmalade On Nice Ice Creams

share|improve this answer

"mnemonic" is based on ancient Greek mnéme μνήμη meaning memory. I'm no great specialist for old Greek so I'm not sure whether the m was really pronounced and I can't give information about the etymology of the word. I would guess something that is in the mind, memories you have in your head.

share|improve this answer

Hmmm? How to remember how to spell nemonic? (sic)

Hmmm! Spell phonetically by jogging your memory... mnemonic.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.