How to memorize definitions

l have lot of definations of different terms in my subject and the definations are very long they are about 6 lines average can you give me suggestions and l am tired with memory techniques l forgot many of the defination although l revised them every day

1 Like

When I need to memorize definitions verbatim, I usually do it like this:

  1. Write down the definition on a piece of paper and read it out loud 2 times

  2. Write down only the first letter of all the words in the definition.

  3. Try to read the definition by only looking at the paper with the first letters and say it out loud.

  4. Try to say the definition out loud without looking at the paper.

  5. Review with spaced repetition (which is, from my experience, far more effective than reviewing every day). If you forget a part of it, just look at the paper with only the first letters.

It‘s basically the same technique that Nelson Dellis explains in this video:


can it be stored in the long term memory

l have also watched this video a few days ago but l dont think that it would be stored in the long term memory

It can and will, if you‘re willing to put in the work needed to do so:

Have a reasonable spaced repetition schedule (there are different ones; you can find them on the forum or in the wiki), and stick to it. Don‘t Skip a single review.

You might have to try different schedules to find the one that fits you best.

When you say put in the work, it’s fair to take that as putting in the time. Maybe this question is more individually based and/or with large variances depending on the material etc… Albeit if one must remember over 100 new definitions (with maybe about 20-ish words defining each) within 30 days, and must retain the information for at least another 30 days at will (say for a bar exam), what’s the best method?

Thanks in advance, I appreciate the site and any/all help suggestions. (I’m using and liking ANKI and have even made strings of pictures to add to some answers, but wow, that really slows things down, but it seems the process of stringing the pictures together reinforces the memory )

1 Like

I use Anki for definitions, too. Usually with the „cloze“ option where you can have all first letters appear and the rest of the words are hidden.

Sometimes when I struggle with a definition I come up with images, too, but only for the parts that I tend to forget. Coming up with pictures for everything might be good for recall, but it‘s too time consuming if you need to learn hundreds of definitions in a short time. The cloze option on Anki works better for me in this case (for most other things I use memory palaces, though).


Silvio , are you suggesting rote memorization technique for definition learning.

If you only look at the part you quoted it might seem like it. But the main part of the technique is the idea with writing only the first letters, so your brain has to complete the words by itself which makes it more effective than just looking at the definition over and over again.

I‘ve tried both ways. Just looking at the definitions as they are and reviewing with Anki didn‘t work at all for me. When I came across this „first-letter“-technique it was a complete game-changer; it works for me even for longer definitions.

1 Like

I just reread what you wrote and that’s a great idea using the cloze feature (I’ve only used the first letter as part of the question. I’m going to try it your way for new cards.


I think this is really impressive but as a lofty memorizer placing each of those letters in a memory palace system would be great. I love to use mnemonics that exist only inside my mind and not depend on anything physical. I personally contrived a dedicated list of 26 objects, each representing a letter of the alphabet. Each object represents the letter that starts the object name for example “A”’ is always represented by an axe.
So I use the PAO system to store arrays for letters with my “Letter Objects” and I think it would be great to memorize definitions “off-head” by adding this concept to the idea shared by @Hero1 . Incidentally I use it remember codes which usually include a blend of numbers and letters