how to memorize a book (part 2 – Vocabulary: don’t forget that definition!)

So you’re reading your book and you come across a word whose meaning doesn’t immediately come to mind. Dangit, I know it has something to do with oscopy. You look up the word real quick and then you’re back at the book, reading away and enjoying yourself. All of a sudden, that word appears again, and you’ve forgotten the definition already! What the crap, I just looked this up, arggg …something to do with. You look the word up again, and decide to learn that word for good.

Why didn’t you memorize it the first time you looked it up!?! It’s because that word didn’t really mean anything to you, or at least not to your brain. You see, your brain handles pictures a lot better than it handles unfamiliar words that it can’t connect to. Yes, your brain needs to connect! Brain needs to relate one thing to another in order to remember it and retain more stuff. Brain acts like connect the dots: each dot is an item to remember, and each line is a relation from one item to another. Without any relationship between one item and another, BRAIN CAN’T CONNECT THE DOTS!!!

Back to the point – so how do you remember that word on the first go? Well, just make a ridiculous association between the meaning of the word and the phrase/word(s)/thought that sounds similar to the word.


Word: Emancipate

Meaning: to free from restraint, influence, or the like.

Sounds like: Man, Plate


*apply method*


Picture show for brain: Just picture a man freeing a plate from its restraints/influence.

You see how we connected the dots there? The part “eman-” in emancipate is unfamiliar, but man is familiar! And “-cipate” is unfamiliar but plate kind of sounds like it and is familiar. So when brain sees emancipate it can be reminded that eman sounds like man and cipate sounds like plate. And then… well you’ve got your relationship between man and plate (i.e. man freeing the plate) and brain remembers the story of man and plate because … well it can see the image of a man freeing a plate and it’s a pretty ridiculous image and also hard to forget. Look at those dots connect; relate the unfamiliar with the familiar to remember the unfamiliar. Brain can hold all this information, but it needs to be reminded of where it put the info sometimes.

So the trick is to create a picture show that links the meaning of the word to the words that are familiar and sound similar to the original word. Basically the familiar words (man, plate) are stars in your little mind picture show and they just act out the definition.

Sound good? Try it on a word from a language that you don’t already know. The method works there too.


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