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Mnemonics

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
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Welcome to the mnemonics video. That word itself may be unknown to you, but the point of this video isn't to define the word mnemonics, it's to talk about this powerful concept. But first off, what does mnemonics mean? Mnemonics are creative memory devices, so visuals or associations to help you better remember something.

Here you see mental image, an association, so easy way of thinking of a mnemonic. But let me actually give you an example. Here we have lambaste, which means to criticize harshly. So if you were studying this word, you would look at the definition, maybe you would be a word detective, see how the word functions in context. But you could also take it a step further.

With this word, you could come up with a creative way of memorizing it. What do I mean? Well, imagine this. You've just cooked lamb, you've put the lamb, in fact, in the oven, 400 degrees. It's been going on for 45 minutes, and you forget about the lamb, and you go off and you're texting someone, or maybe you're updating Facebook, whatever it may be.

And all of a sudden, you smell something burning and you go, my gosh. And you look into the oven, and there in the oven, you see the lamb. And the lamb is really upset because you tried to baste the lamb. But in basting the lamb, you messed up. And the lamb now takes on the lamb's head and a mouth and it says, why did you not pay attention, why did you burn me?

Can't you do better than that? All of a sudden, we have this lamb that is lambasting you, or more like a basted lamb lambasting you. Now, that is a ridiculous story, totally ridiculous, and that is the point. The point is that the goofier, the crazier, the wackier the image, the more likely it is to stick in your mind.

So if I just said, yeah, imagine an angry lamb and it's angry at you, you wouldn't remember that. But if you would picture it, looking into the oven through that transparent glass-ish covering, and there's that lamb's head just lambasting you, that is far more visual, far more likely for you to remember the definition. So that is an example of a mnemonic.

Now, let us try a few others. And the whole point here, crazy story, crazy image. Let's see what you can come up with. Here's doleful. What I encourage you to do is pause the video, see if you can come up with a creative, crazy story or image.

Okay, so here's mine, maybe you've come up with a better one. But I imagine a pineapple, and that pineapple has been stripped bare of the skin, and it's all alone and it's crying, it is crying profusely. And in fact, before I go to aberrant, I should probably define doleful for you, which means mournful or sad.

And I think I jumped the gun there. What you should do, not just pulling up aberrant though, that's not part of the mnemonic. But now that I defined that doleful means mournful and sad, try to come up with your own image. Okay, if you paused the video, and now you, or paused the video to come up with your own story, now I'll tell you my story.

There's a pineapple, stripped bare of the skin, and it is crying these big, fat pineapple tears, saying, why am I left alone? Now, I personally don't think that's a great of a story, and I bet that you come up with a better story. In fact, when you come up with a story, when you come up with a mnemonic yourself, it works better than when somebody tells you.

That is, your story is more sticky than somebody else's story. So hopefully you can come up with a better story than my crying pineapple. But if not, I want you to picture a pineapple crying these big pineapple tears, therefore it's mournful and sad. And now we can get to aberrant. So i'll define it this time, something that is out of the ordinary, Something that is not normal.

So anomalous is a good adjective. So you can pause the video now that we've defined the word, and try to come up with something creative. Okay, assuming you've paused the video, aberrant, here is my story. I'm going hiking, way up in the wilderness. It's been a long jaunt, I decide to sit down and have a picnic.

I'm eating my sandwich and notice the mushrooms growing near the log where I'm sitting, so I add them to my sandwich. I'm a big fan of mushrooms on pizza and my sandwich, and I'm eating it. And all of a sudden, walking down the log I see an ant. It's a very massive ant, big, big ant, much bigger than this drawing, maybe much more ant-looking.

But in addition to being an ant, it has a huge head, And it is the head of the bear, and it is growling at me, this ant-bear. And I scream and I run to the rangers. And I tell them, sir, sir, I just saw something totally out of the ordinary, I saw a bear ant, aberrant. Okay, that's probably really cheesy and really stupid, and I hope it is.

Because the point is, therefore it's sticky and you are likely to remember it. Now, you maybe even came up with a better one, and maybe it's not better. But if you came up with one that you like, then great. The point is, will you remember the word for the long term? Will you remember it test day? And if your mnemonic has helped you do that, even my crazy mnemonics have helped you do that, then that's perfect.

So let's try one final one, just try in here, cupidity. Maybe if you weren't sure of these other two, maybe this one is a little bit more obvious. First off, cupidity is excessive greed, especially for money. So you can pause the video. Okay, my mnemonic, I picture Cupid.

I know, not creative at all. Picture Cupid flying around in his diaper, the cherub with the little angel wings. And instead of shooting bow and arrow into people, saying, we make so and so fall in love. He shoots his arrow into a person's wallet or purse, and he swoops down from the sky, grabs the arrow and the wallet, and heads back up.

And there he is, stealing people's money because cupidity, well, Cupid's known for his excessive greed. So that's basically, that's the spirit of the mnemonics, try to come up with these crazy, silly stories. And again, if it works for you, if you come up with a story, that's even better than hearing it from me or from somewhere else.

Okay, finally, mnemonics can also be about words themselves. And what do I mean by that? Well, let's take a look here, verisimilitude. Verisimilitude means something has a likeness to reality. So for instance, CGI, there's animations, computer animation. It looks so lifelike oftentimes, and therefore it has a high degree of verisimilitude.

Now, one way of memorizing this word is to say, aha, if something has a lot of verisimilitude, it is very similar to reality. So verisimilitude is much like reality or very similar to reality. So again, a creative way, something about the structure of the word or the way the word sounds. It's not necessarily a wacky image or story.

So let's try another one, extant. So this means still in existence. A lot of people think it means extinct, but it's actually the opposite. So one way of memorizing it is to take the I-S, the is, and to drop the is in there, where you have existant. Now, it's not spelled the exact same way as existent, but that's our mnemonic, that's our creative way of remembering, aha, extant means is existent.

And finally, we have loath and loathe. These are different words, and a lot of times people mix them up. Which one is which? Well, to be loath means to be reluctant to do something. On the other hand, if you loathe someone, you hate them intensely. So how do you keep these two words separate?

Well, take the last four letters of loathe, rearrange them, and you get hate. So again, it's a creative way of looking at the structure of the word and helping you memorize the word. Now, you may love mnemonics, you may think this is the greatest thing ever, and you may use them as often as you can. And that's great, and I really encourage you to do so.

You may be somewhere in the middle, and I'm guessing you are. So I encourage you to try, even though if it's hard sometimes, try to come up with a creative story. If you can't, then don't worry, don't keep trying to bang your head against the wall trying to think of this wacky story. But if one comes to you, it's a great thing cuz you can definitely use that to help you memorize the word or help you to get that word in long-term memory.

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