Advice on modifying Dominic system

Hello everyone,

I’ve been using the Major system on and off every since the first publication of “The Memory Book.”

I would like to update and use the Dominic system. But I find his suggestions are largely based on Anglo-specific people and also a bit dated. I found myself having to research Thomas Cromwell and Old Etonian. Kind of learning-before-learning.

So I’m struggling to come up with more relevant characters and actions.

If I post what I’ve done so far, am I violating Dominic’s copyright?

One thing that you can’t help but notice right off the bat is that Dominic is only using 10 letters/initials to build his list of individuals. This leaves out key letters like “W” (so William Shatner will never appear) and “R” (Roger, Robin, Randy, Rick …) and “F” (Fred, Franklin, etc.) so the pool of possible names is greatly reduced.

I was thinking of combining his system with the Major System to multiply the number of possible initials. Like

0: O,Y
1: L,T
2: B,N
3: C,M
4: D,R
5: E,L
6: S,J
7: G,K
8: H,F
9: N,W

But maybe that’s just making things too confusing. I still have at least 15 initials I need to fill out (there’s some I’m still not happy with).

How have others dealt with modifying Dominic’s system, or is everyone else happy with it as is?

Thanks for your input,

Welcome to the site.

The important part of this system is that you use a consistent way of converting numbers to people.
So feel free to create/use your own system when that system gives you more options.

I think that one of the things people miss a lot with Dominic system is that the phonetics aren’t really that critical. If you could fill all your image slots with characters just from natural associations that you might have, that would be fine. If you really wanted William Shatner in the system, you could put him in as BS = Bill Shatner, if it helps you remember. Or you could just stick him in at 31, (the year he was born). Whatever works.

That’s a great observation. I’ve just stuck him in at 70: GO. Because he’s boldly GOing.

I’ve been working longer than I want to admit trying to complete my list.

When I research for various possible initials, I see that I am not alone. Apparently other people are struggling to finish out their Dominic equivalents.


Here are some lists to help you buddy:

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If you post a list of numbers you are stuck on, we might be able to suggest some images. :slight_smile:

Ok, I’ve pored through lots of lists and have come up with my own list of replacements. I can share what I have if anyone is interested. What I realized belatedly is that I need to refine my action/objects. The thing is, Dominic wasn’t consistent on action/objects in his lists. For instance, he used Hitler “goose-stepping”, but there is no object. He has several persons who are “wearing” things, which isn’t much of an action.

You can find Dominic’s original 1992 list on Google books. I would say that list is about 80% unusable to modern readers – especially in North America. His later book (“Brilliant memory”) is better, but there’s still a lot of obscure names. Not too many people here (N.A.) would know who Oliver Cromwell is, or what Old Etonian means.

On some of my names, I realized that the initials by themselves were more compelling: EB makes me think of E.B. White, and CS makes me automatically think of CS Lewis. Unfortunately, both of these are authors … not people we have seen often even if we have read their works.

I’ve also used some cheater abbreviations like S.E. becoming Super Elf and picturing a flying Smurf.

So I’m left with


EB automatically makes me think of EB White, but I can’t really visualize him since he’s an author and a fairly ordinary looking guy. (If it was George R. R. Martin that would be different).

Edit: Checked my list. Think I’ll go with Ernest Borgnine unless someone suggests something better

These might help?

Sharon Stone, Steven Segal, Suzanne Somers

Erin Brockovich (played by Julia Roberts)

On my Dominic list, I have

SS - Sylvester Stallone punching with boxing gloves (big shiny red ones)
EB - Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) doing the splits while draped in a Union Jack

I like your Super Elf for SE. Mine is similar as I have Santa’s Elf licking a candycane.

Incredibly I’ve never seen rocky, but I can probably picture him. Dominic suggests a name of a famous director. While I’ve seen many of his movies, I have no clue what he looks like.

Also don’t know who Emma is, which probably suggests I’m living in the stone age.

I use a Union Jack also with my 21 (BA – Benedict Arnold) though that one’s weak because I don’t have a good image of Benedict. So I’m open to suggestions on BA.


BA for me is B.A. Barracus from the A-Team, played by Mr. T. On the show he was always scared of flying, so the other A-Team members made him drink a drugged glass of milk to knock him out.

BA - Mr. T drinking a glass of milk with a mohawk

The mohawk works ok as an object (Sherlock Holmes with a mohawk is unforgettable), but I’ve found that using objects that are strongly linked to a person’s identity can get messy. For example, remembering 21##21 leads to an image of Mr. T with a mohawk. But he’s already got one! So coming up with something a bit better is one of the things on my list of improvements for my list (once I get around to finding some time to sit down and go through it again).

Is encoding it this way really worth it. Why not connect letters to any image. Why can you assosiate complex things but not simple things. Whats the difference between complex and simple.

I don’t believe you are breaking copyright laws because copyright doesn’t have to do with ideas. The phrases in the book could be trademarked but I doubt it but i think thats a commercial use thing as well.

Mine involves Spongebob Squarepants and a pineapple :bigsmile:

Oh, great! I might use that one. Cartoon characters are often easier to remember than human faces.


In my list, SS is Bobby Moore.

Note that Dominic correctly suggests using any immediate number associations before converting to the letters.

So, as England won the World Cup (Soccer) in 1966, I have Bobby Moore as 66/SS

I have a firefighter as my 31 because I lived at number 31 when we had to call th Fire Brigade due to a kitchen fire.

Don’t know if that helps?

Hello Mark,

I combine the Dominic and the Major system. I do not think it is copyright if you post what you have done so far. It surely isn’t violating anyone’s system. Dominic O’Brien gave the world a system. If tinkering with his system to suit you works for you - you have achieved what Dominic has set out the foundations for - Memorising what you need to.

You might find this useful …

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I was stuck on ND and NE. I’m using North Dakota Buffalo Man (found good picture) and New England Patriot (football team, generic player). These stick but seem unsatisfying. I also have Old Angler for OA, using O’Brian’s “Old Etonian” thrick.