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laurenkem's avatar

Does anyone use this to help them remember the spelling of specific words?

Asked by laurenkem (3398points) June 9th, 2012

I know there’s a name for this specific process, but I’ve forgotten it. I was reminded of the whole thing by an episode of “The Waltons”, one of the later ones in which “Rose” is already living with the Waltons. In this episode, she was trying to help her grandson with his spelling and she used consecutive words, made up a non-sensical statement and told him to take the first letter of every word and that would spell the word he was looking for. For example:

Innocent = I Never Noticed Octopuses Carrying Every Needed Thing

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26 Answers

ucme's avatar

Sometimes Happens In Theory

Trillian's avatar


zenvelo's avatar

I have never heard of that for spelling, just for memorizing facts like the order of the planets (My very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas), or colors of the rainbow (Roy B. Giv), or math processes (Pemdas).

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t use that for words, it’s too much work. It’s easier for me to use root words, suffixes, and prefixes.

I do use that method for other concepts, though. For example, melting, evaporation, and sublimation are a cooling process, and they absorb heat. So to remember this, I remember COOL MESA.

ucme's avatar

I do remember the classic rainbow colours verse from school, “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain”

laurenkem's avatar

@ucme LOL – you’re so bad!

lillycoyote's avatar

No. LOL. That kind of mnemonic has never worked for me, for spelling or anything else. It would be harder for me to remember I Never Noticed Octopuses Carrying Every Needed Thing than it would be just to remember how to spell “innocent.” Though I do remember Every Good Boy Deserves Favor for the the lined notes and FACE for the notes in the spaces on the treble clef staff but that’s about it.

Only last year, I tried to use that device to remember the order and members of taxonomic classifications: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species… and created a little sentence to try to remember but as usual, wasn’t able to remember the sentence.

I think I have more a visual memory and that kind of device doesn’t work for me. I generally have to do it, learn to spell words, just by rote and there are still some I can’t spell correctly the first or second or third time to save my life. I only just recently managed to master the word “squirrel” and spell it correctly on the first try. :-)

laurenkem's avatar

@lillycoyote I’m pretty much the same way, I was just wondering if this was an antiquated teaching method or if people still use it now.

@Trillian I believe you were correct – thank you!

bookish1's avatar

It is indeed a remnant of an antiquated teaching method that goes back to the Greeks. It calls for using images to stand for words, concepts, or entire systems that you want to memorize. It is completely alien to our modern mindset. I first learned this from the history book The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (A great, short, yet enthralling read. Not academic-y. I highly recommend it!)

I still remember “Mister Vampire Eats My Juicy Snacks Under Noisy Pianos” even though Pluto apparently isn’t a planet anymore :-p

tedibear's avatar

I’ve been taught a couple of things that way, and they were decent devices to use until I really learned a subject. The planets were “My very earthly mother just shot uncle Ned’s pig.” Though I guess now she just shoots uncle Ned. Roy G. Biv for the colors of the rainbow. And “A rat in Tom’s house might eat Tom’s ice cream” for the letters to spell arithmetic. Never used that one, just happen to remember it. I know there was one for learning French, but a lot of that has disappeared from my head.

bookish1's avatar

@tedibear: A mnemnonic for ALL of French? Haha. One that I remember from high school is CaReFuL—the capital letters are ones that you still pronounce at the end of a word.

gailcalled's avatar

I remember learning the stellar spectral types with “Oh, be a fine girl. Kiss me right now. Smack.”

For lines on the staff of the piano’s treble clef, “Every good boy does fine.”

Trillian's avatar

@gailcalled and the bass clef is; “Good boys do fine always”.

filmfann's avatar

I still use HOMES for the great lakes, but is the opposite of the OP

ETpro's avatar

In CSS, the shorthand to set all four margins or paddings is TRBL (Terrible) or Top, Right, Bottom, Left.

margin: 10px 15px 18px 5px;

Sets the margins to:
Top = 10px
Right = 15px
Bottom = 18px
Left = 5px.

linguaphile's avatar

From Trig, I still remember SinOH, CosAH, TanOA. I said it over and over like a rhyme. Guess I still remember how to divide opposite over hypotenuse, and so on!

tedibear's avatar

@bookish1 – LoL! No, not all of French. Maybe the “etre” verbs?

bookish1's avatar

@tedibear: In 7th grade, I learned this to the tune of “Ode to Joy” for the endings of regular -er verbs, and it’s still with me:

les verbes réguliers!


Dutchess_III's avatar

(what is :-p sung to the tune of? :)

My son was a horrific speller. He wanted to spell everything phonetically (all of which caused me to start wondering about the importance of spelling in the English language. I figure that eventually, in the next 2 – 3 hundred years we’ll have two different language. One will be the spoken language, the other will be the written, and they won’t match at all!) Anyway, we’d work for hours on his spelling. Our trick was simply to break it up into two or three separate words phonetically, even if it didn’t make much sense. Like, the word “separate” we’d break in to “sep” “ar” “ate.”
I’d say, “So sep ate, ar?”
My son, “What is a sep?”
Me: “Comes before oct.”
We had fun!

I’ll never forget the time he got his first 100% on a spelling test. :) He was so excited! But…he still can’t spell very well! It’s a running joke in our family. (Easter day he sent me a text asking if I had any vnigger. I almost fell over!!)

ETpro's avatar

@Dutchess_III My rule for separate was, “You can smell a rat in “sep arat e”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Good! I’ll remember that because ‘separate’ is kind of tricky!

lillycoyote's avatar

Some words I learned to spell by pronouncing them “in my head” the way they are spelled: I had to pronounce Wednesday as “Wed-nes-day,” rather than “Wensday” in order to spell it correctly and the the same with “separate,” and that is one I had trouble with too. I had to pronounce it as se-par-ate, with “par” as in sub-par, or below par like in golf.

And some words I learned to spell by separating them into their components; like “bureaucrat.” I had the damnedest time with that one until I figured out that it was a “crat” who worked in the “bureau” of something or other. I knew how to spell bureau, those damn French words can be difficult though, and then just tacked a “crat” on at the end of it and that was that. And I finally learned how to spell “definitely:” de-finite with an ly tacked onto the end.

Also, knowing how words, in English and other languages based on Latin and Greek work and are constructed is helpful to me; breaking them down into their prefixes, roots and suffixes. That is also essential to figuring out what words mean if you are not familiar with them.

ETpro's avatar

I before E except after c, or when followed by “a” as in neighbor. Of course, some words are just weird and don’t work like that.

bookish1's avatar

@lillycoyote: Woden’s day has always confounded me with its spelling!

gailcalled's avatar

“Stationery”: the “e” is for “envelop.”

The principal is not your pal.

ETpro's avatar

@gailcalled I’ll stand stationary long enough to memorize those principles.

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