Mnemonics in Vocabulary

Vocabulary Tutorial

Mnemonics in Vocabulary


Studying vocabulary can sometimes be stressful for students, particularly at the high school level. Advancement in the difficulty of vocabulary words is necessary for high school students who already have a solid base of reading experience.

Sample Problem

Question source

Some students have trouble keeping the proper attitude and focus when they see uncommon words for the first time. Since some of the words are brought up in context infrequently, studying vocabulary can sometimes seem to students like memorizing a mundane list of definitions.


The use of mnemonics, or memory aids, tremendously helps students learn advanced levels of vocabulary. It sparks interest when dealing with unfamiliar words that lack any recognizable context and ultimately helps students grasp the new words in easier ways.

For example, Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the word bilious as “sickeningly unpleasant” and “of or indicative of a peevish nature of ill disposition” when used outside medical context. A mnemonically effective trick to learning the word bilious could be an association with a bad boy named Billy who was bilious in his relationships with others.

The memory association contains alliterative words bad, boy, and Billy as well as the visual cue of “bil” beginning the name Billy and the adjective bilious to describe him. Providing this most basic context through a simple mind game can go a long way in triggering students’ memories as they learn more challenging vocabulary in attempt to advance their reading levels.

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