Using Mnemonic Devices For Difficult Vocabulary

Sometimes vocabulary words are too difficult to learn by rote memorization, and they don’t have any helpful prefixes or roots for you to dissect and make meaning from. Using mnemonic devices for difficult vocabulary can be a great strategy. Mnemonic devices are tricks that help you remember things. You can take words and try to think about chunks of those words that stick out to you and then make a story from them.

For example, “gregarious” means friendly or chatty, so you can imagine in your mind an image of a man named Greg being very friendly and chatty. Mnemonic DevicesTry to actually visualize the image in your mind. When you use different parts of your brain to remember something, it sticks better, and visualizing an image associated with a word will help you remember it. You can even draw a picture of the image on the notecard to help you remember it.

In the table below, think about what you can imagine to help you remember the word.

Word Meaning Example Image
ruthless without compassion, cruel/merciless Imagine a woman named Ruth being mean and yelling at people.
abridge to shorten Imagine a short bridge
ravenous extremely hungry Imagine a raven feasting on a mouse
pugnacious hostile, combative Imagine an angry little pug
pious deeply religious Imagine a pie praying
indignant feeling displeasure at something insulting or offensive, unjust Imagine someone digging a hole and yelling rude words at it
gullible easily fooled Imagine a seagull who has been tricked, and starts eating a rubber fish
frank direct and unreserved in speech Imagine a frankfurter (hot dog) who tells you everything it thinks about you

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