“Mnemonics is like magic, it can be used to perform feats of memory that are extraordinary, and impossible to carry out using the natural memory alone.”- Wikipedia
'Mnemonics' is the process or technique of improving, assisting, or developing the memory. As a proficient user of mnemonic devices in daily life, I am sharing my mnemonic tips and tricks to cram new words:
While preparing for GRE, I accumulated some generic rules to remember a word. Every person has his own way of remembering things. Take your time to discover the subliminal tricks that best fits you.
1. Never memorize a new word by rote learning, means by reading the words again and again. Rather try to visualize the word in your mind. As example, the word 'copse' means 'a dense growth of bushes', now when you think the word ‘copse’, close your eyes and try to visualize it, bring the picture of the bushes you see in the gardens. Doesn’t copse also sound or feel like bushes?
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2. Always try to relate the new unknown word with some other known word. Suppose the word ‘splice’ means ‘to join or tie’. Now the word ‘slice’ means ‘cut into pieces’. See the relation between the words ‘slice’ and ‘splice’. They sound very similar but means opposite. Another similar example is ‘extinct’ and ‘extant’. Try to find linkage between words in your own way. It might be frustrating it the beginning, but eventually you will find the link. There is always a link. Each person has their different and unique way of thinking. Find and use yours. You can relate with words from your mother-tongue language too. Does the word ‘copse’ remind you of any word? Think.
3. Try to amass the words together which forms a rhyme, like ‘equivocate, prevaricate, tergiversate’, all are synonyms meaning ‘be deliberately ambiguous’. This is very helpful, because if in case you forget the meaning of ‘tergiversate’, the power of rhyming will make the whole series pop out of your mind.
4. Discuss and use the words you learn. Unless you use them, you will anyways forget them sometime. And try to learn from your surroundings. Paying attention to words used around you is the best way to increase your vocabulary. And don’t be reluctant to pick up new words whenever you can. Your storage device doesn’t get full (It’s not like a computer hard disk). Rather the larger your vocabulary becomes, the easier it gets to connect a new word with words you already know, and thus remember its meaning. So your learning speed or pace should increase as your vocabulary grows and so should your memory.
5. A very interesting way to memorize a word is by learning the word’s root and etymology. Etymology is the study of the sources and development of words. In this technique you can learn several words at a time and find links among them.
See ‘philanthropist’ and ‘philanderer’ have the same Greek root ‘phil-’, means ‘love for something’. While, the meanings are:
‘philanthropist, someone who makes charitable donations for human wellfare', and
'philanderer, a man who likes many women and has short sexual relationships with them’.
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(English To Bangle
6. Try using all of your senses to learn words. You can try learning words through pictures. Specially, learning proper nouns by this method is pretty effective. You can start listening to audio recording of words too. Try recording the words while reading with synonyms and listen to it later in leisure time.
7. Use the dictionary software called ‘Word Web’. Go to free to download it free. Some more helpful sites are:
For Picture dictionary:
For etymology, meaning and pictures:
For audio wordlist:
8. Finally, practice and perseverance is the one and only way to succeed. Unless you practice, nothing is going to change. Because, practice shows us where we are committing mistakes and what are the notches that needs to be filled. I am saying it verbatim, "There is no other way than practice and revise".
Remember, the goal of expanding your vocabulary is to lift you slightly above the crowd without losing the audience in words unfamiliar to them. You should be able to understand and use the words and terms encountered in your daily life, as well as prepare yourself by learning the vocabulary needed to bring you closer to your goals.