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Golomb’s Gambits: The Mnemonic Plague
June 2, 2010  |  by Solomon Golomb

Mnemonics are aids to memory and take many forms. Some are used by students cramming for exams. The more outrageous—or outright indecent—the easier they are to remember. (If you can’t even recall the mnemonic, you’re in deep trouble.) For this column, I’ve selected (or crafted) relatively inoffensive versions.

Check your answers

A. Try to identify what, and how, each of these mnemonics is intended to help you remember. (For extra credit, list other mnemonics for the same or related items.)

1. HOMES

2. ROY G. BIV

3. J. JASON, D.J., FM, AM

4. One egg is enough.

5. Every good boy does fine.

6. Oh, be a fine girl—kiss me.

7. King Philip called out family guards suddenly.

8. Big boys regard our young girls behind verdant garden walls.

9. On old Olympus’ towering top a Finn and German viewed a hop.

10. How I want a drink—alcoholic, of course—after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics.

B. What familiar mnemonics are intended to help you remember each of these?

1. How to reset your clock when daylight savings time begins or ends.

2. How to tighten or loosen screws, valves, etc.

3. The number of days in each of the 12 months.

4. Whether i precedes or follows e in the spellings of most words.


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