Mnemonic images for common English words - as per Gary Lanier & Lociinthesky for memorising poetry / texts - (long term)

I am aiming for long term memorisation.

I have come across several mentions of how when some people memorise they have a list of common words e.g. and = hand. There is a brief list on this forum with a few words added, but I know there are people who have created images for phrases, punctuation etc.

In this thread user Lociinthesky said he had a system with 150 words. A memory champion in Foer’s book used this system and had a long list of words, but the book did not share them.

Gary Lanier also said he had created something similar, but as people do not always revisit this forum regularly, it seems, I have not had a reply about the details of his substitute words.

Could you share this information if you have it please.

Hello - I am also interested in this. Please post if you come across it. In the meantime, I will progress on my own and in a few weeks, I’ll post what I’ve come up with. Thanks!

I am also working on a list of substitute words. I don’t have enough to post yet, but I’ll certainly do it when I do, and/or if this thread generates interest (whichever comes first).

Look forward to seeing this list too.

Honesty, it isn’t really worth the effort to try to make a list of the common words because in a poem you never know what words will come up. The exception of words that will probably show up are: a, the, of, and, but, I, you, this, has, have,
Just to name a few

Besides that you should just come up for images on the spot. I have memorized a lot of poems in preparation for the USA championship and some of the words I had images for were not even in some of the poems. It is hard to create a system for words because words essentially infinite amount.

I’ve never practiced memorizing poetry and know almost nothing about it, BUT it seems that just like most people have predetermined images for common names that predetermined images can also be made for commonly used words in poetry. Here’s a link of the top 2000 words used in poetry. The words were gathered from poetry online with a total word count of over a half a million.


Hmm. Nice list, William. The words may be common in poetry, but they seemed like they were pulled straight from day-to-day speech.

It’s the ordinary words that make up the bulk of our sentences and paragraphs. I would think a list like this would be very suitable for building a mnemonic vocabulary. Having a prepared vocabulary for even just the most common 100 or 200 words would probably speed up the effort to memorize sentences and phrases.

If I were to get into memorizing poetry, I’d probably work down the list until I feel like the frequency of the words have diminished to the point where making more images doesn’t seem necessary. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that point for me is around 100-200 words.

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I was thinking along the same lines. Anyway, I was having trouble sleeping, so I spent some time putting together a draft list for the first 100 words:

  1. the, theatre
  2. I, aye-aye
  3. and, android
  4. to, tomato
  5. you, ewe
  6. a, apple
  7. of, oven
  8. my, myna
  9. in, inn
  10. that, Thatcher (Margaret)
  11. me, meal
  12. it, It (Cousin It from the Addams Family)
  13. is, Isis
  14. but, butt
  15. for, fore (golf)
  16. your, yore (picture knight's suit of armor)
  17. with, withered
  18. be, bee
  19. so, sew
  20. was, wasp
  21. her, hearse
  22. as, ass
  23. on, onion
  24. all, All (dishwasher soap)
  25. she, shepherd
  26. not, knot
  27. he, healer
  28. this, thistle
  29. we, weeping willow
  30. like, lick
  31. are, Ares
  32. have, heaven
  33. just, justice
  34. love, Love American Style
  35. what, watt (light bulb)
  36. one, Juan (Don)
  37. I'm, "I yam what I yam" -Popeye
  38. know, canoe
  39. no, Dr No
  40. when, Wayne (from Wayne's World)
  41. his, hiss
  42. at, at-at (Star Wars)
  43. they, Dey (Susan)
  44. from, fromage (cheese, in French)
  45. will, Wilkinson blade
  46. do, doggy doo
  47. never, Neverland
  48. don't, donut
  49. can, can
  50. up, Up (animated movie)
  51. want, wand
  52. see, seal (navy)
  53. go, Go to Jail (Monopoly)
  54. time, time-machine
  55. now, Noah
  56. out, outhouse
  57. if, Eiffel tower
  58. feel, feel-up
  59. or, ore (gold, silver, etc)
  60. by, buy
  61. there, Daredevil
  62. life, Life cereal
  63. it's, Itsy-bitsy spider
  64. make, maker (from Dune)
  65. how, Howard the Duck
  66. would, wood
  67. look, Lucky Luke
  68. eye, eye
  69. because, Cosby
  70. could, cold
  71. say, Satan
  72. day, Doris Day
  73. who, owl
  74. get, Get Smart (TV spy comedy)
  75. had, Hades
  76. were, werewolf
  77. down, goose (source of down)
  78. only, Puff the magic dragon (... Land called Honah Lee)
  79. our, hour glass
  80. think, the Thinker (statue by Rodin)
  81. heart, heart (Valentine)
  82. back, backpack
  83. then, Thin Man
  84. into, inter (to bury)
  85. am, ammo
  86. come, ejaculate
  87. about, a boat
  88. him, hymn
  89. more, lawn mower
  90. away"Hi-yo, Silver, away!" -Lone Ranger
  91. can't, Kant
  92. still, moonshine still
  93. their, Truth or Dare
  94. way, weigh (scales)
  95. an, ant
  96. them, thumb (hitchhike)
  97. why, YMCA
  98. take, Taken (movie with Liam Neeson)
  99. thing, Thing (Fantastic Four)
  100. even, heaven

At times, I have my images for a line of poetry but keep getting caught out on one of these smaller words…probably over thinging about it and my mind goes blank searching for image. As a beginner, having a predefined list is a great aide .
Again thanks

Thank you tarnation for your list. I had been slowly working on a list as well, but yours inspired me to spend more time on the one I was doing, plus some how your list made it easier to come up with more images for abstract words. The list I’m presenting here is from a list of the 500 most common words used in the English language. It can be found at: I like this source because it lists word forms rather than lexemes. My list here is for the 1st 150 words most common to the English language. Approx. 70 of the first 100 words are also on tarnation’s list, and will be denoted by the symbol for the swung dash ~ in front of the mnemonic image given by tarnation for that given word.
Some of the images I came up with were from the list on .

When you see an asterisk * behind a word it means that it is also listed for a an image on a different word. One should look over the entire list before selecting individual mnemonic image - word pairs. When ever I could, I gave multiple mnemonic images for each word, in order to help you create the strongest mnemonic choices possible.

Given that Wikipedia claims that the 100 most common lexemes (lemmas) account for 50% of the total of English that is written and spoken (the Oxford Corpus of over a billion words), it seems to me that having a mnemonic image pairing of the first few hundred of the most common words makes this into a system (or list) that is as effective (in its own way) as the Major System, Dominic System, or Ben System. The technique of converting common words into mnemonic images, C.W.I.M.I (mnemonic image “Swami”) can be used to more effectively remember verbatim text facts and poetry.

  1. the ~ theatre; tea; thug; tee(golf); drop the "t’ to get “he” and use He-Man,
    2.of ~ oven*; dove*; glove; ~ tomato*; tutu*; glue*; tooth*;
    4.and ~ android; hand; Ann (Raggedy Ann - or Andy);
  2. a ~ apple; ape
  3. in ~ inn; motel;
  4. is ~ Isis (terrorist idiots) or (goddess); Izzy; Liz; lizard;
  5. it ~ Cousin It (Adams’ Family); Clown (from S. King’s IT);
  6. you ~ ewe; U-turn street sign; You Tube; Ubik, Uber;
  7. that ~ Thatcher (Margaret); thot (hoe)*; hat; holy hat ( t is the cross on top of the hat ); phat;
  8. he ~ healer; He Man*; Hee- Haw ( Name of old country music variety TV show-also means a country rube);
  9. was ~ wasp; wuss; coward; Fuzzy Wuzzy;
  10. for ~ fore (golf); frog; Ford (auto)
  11. on ~ ~onion; switch (on light switch); iron (clothes iron);
  12. are ~ Ares; pirates (pirates say “aarrahh”…or something like that!)
    16 .with ~ withered; width (make image very wide); whip;
  13. as ~ass(donkey); asp;
  14. I ~ aye aye; eyeball; glass eye; (suggestion- use "glass eye for “I” and “eyeball” for “eye”, common word #222).
  15. his ~ hiss; hissing cat, Hermann Hesse;
  16. they ~ Dey (Susan); hay; cross - t - on a pile of hay;
  17. be ~ bee; Hamlet (“To be or not to be”);
  18. at ~ At-at (Star Wars); bat; vat; atom; Attila (the Hun); Attucks (Crispus);
  19. one ~ Juan (Don Juan); wand;
  20. have ~ heaven; halve, (cut the image in half);
  21. this ~ thistle; cobra hissing ( t is the shape of a risen cobra -and it is hissing);
  22. from ~ fromage (cheese in French); frump, frumpy (person); prom, drum; frown; frond(fern leaf); rum (cask of rum);
  23. or ~ ore; oar; ruins of Orr;
  24. had ~ Hades; Mad Hatter;
  25. by ~ buy; baby waving bye-bye: bi-sexual;
  26. hot - hot pants; hotties; hut; thot (That Hoe Over There);hot potato; Hottentot; hot peppers;
    (Actually, “hot is also listed as #487” “not” is probably the real #30 on the word list.
    not ~ knot; Don Knotts, Fort Knoxx, slip knot;
  27. but ~ butt; cigarette butt; bat; boot;
  28. some - sum (of the equation); slum, slump pump;
  29. what ~ watt (light bulb); Watson ( Dr. or Mr.); wet hat ( W stands for wet and add hat to it-wet hat((it drips!))
  30. there ~ daredevil; hare (hare with a cross- holy hare); fair (state)
  31. we ~ weeping willow; we- we; peeing;
  32. can ~ can (tin can); candy; candy striper;
  33. out ~ outhouse; umpire; (shouting “You’re out!”); Lady Macbeth ( “Out damn spot!”)
  34. other - otter; udder;
  35. were ~werewolf; weirdo (moi); worm*:
  36. all ~ All (dishwashing soap) awl (tool that bores holes);
  37. your ~ yore (picture knight in suit of armor); yolk (egg); York Peppermint Patty; yoke (on ox);
  38. when ~ Wayne (From Wayne’s World); Wayne (Newton); wet hen;
  39. up ~ Up (animated movie); a sign pointing upward( and everything around it is floating upwards); throw-up;
  40. use - Jews; Uzi (machine gun); ooze; Ozzie(and Harriet);
  41. word - Bible (The Word); perv;
  42. how ~ Howard the Duck; Howard (Cosell), howl (wolf howling); Indian Chief ( Saying “How”);
  43. said - sled; Sid (Caesar); Sid (Vicious); sad(sad clown);
  44. an ~ ant; aunt ( pronounced as ‘ant’ in much of America);
  45. each - peach; itch; beach;
  46. she ~ shepherd; She-Ra- Princess of Power;
  47. which ~ witch, switch (to beat with); wrench; wench;
  48. do ~ do-do (doggy-do); Do (big hair); dew (morning moisture); Dew (Mountain);
  49. their ~ Truth or Dare; heir;
  50. time ~ time machine; a dime with a tiny clock on it;
  51. if ~ Eiffel Tower; elf;
  52. will ~ Wilkinson blade; Last Will and Testament; Will Robinson (from “Lost in Space”);
  53. way - wave(Giant Wave); large crowd doing “The Wave”; Milky Way (our galaxy); Milky Way candy bar;
  54. about ~ a boat; Albert (Fat Albert); a bolt;
    59 many - Minnie Mouse; minion; minivan; minnow;
  55. then ~ Thin Man; hen; Ken (Barbie’s);
  56. them ~ thumb(hitch hike); hymn; hem (of dress - with little crosses dangling on the end of the hem);
  57. would ~ wood; wooden world (or globe); Woody Woodpecker, wood pile; woodchuck;
  58. write - rite dye (wet rite dye); last rites;
  59. like ~ lick; Ike (Eisenhower-“I like Ike”); dike;
  60. so ~ sew; snow;
  61. these ~ Bees (Many of them); “dez nuts”, tease;
  62. her ~ hearse; hermaphrodite; hermit; Hercules; Hearst (William Randolph);
  63. long - Long John Silver; lung; lung fish;
  64. make ~ maker (From Dune); Maker’s Mark (whiskey);
  65. thing ~ Thing (Fantastic Four ); ding-a-ling; The Thing(from the movie- for the plural form of thing -“things”);
  66. see ~ seal (Navy Seal); seal (animal); sea; seed; see-saw;
  67. him ~ hymn*; hem*; ham;
  68. two ~ use your symbol for two; tuba;;shoe; twins; Siamese twins
    74 has - ash; haze (Purple?); hash(beef);
  69. Look ~ Lucky Luke; Look Magazine; binoculars;
  70. more ~ lawn mower; moor, moors, Moore (Thomas Moore);
  71. day ~ Doris Day; Sandra Day O’Connor: Daniel Day-Lewis; payday (a peanut candy bar);
  72. could ~ cold; coal; cud (cow’s);
  73. go ~ Go to jail (Monopoly); the game of Go; go-go dancer;
  74. come ~ ejaculate; comb; honeycomb (dripping);
  75. did - deed; dildo; dead; katydid ( insect);
  76. my ~ myna(bird), Maya Angelou; Mayan;
    83 .sound - Sounder; hound; Hound of Baskervilles; sonar;
  77. no ~ Dr. No; toddler stomping foot and yelling “NO!”;
  78. most - mast; moose;
  79. number - Limburger (cheese); NUNs on iceBERg; Nuremberg Trials;
  80. who ~ owl; Dr. Who; The Who (rock band);
    88.over - oven*; overcoat;
  81. know ~ canoe; snow*;
  82. water - water (glass of, drop of ); waiter;
  83. than - van; hand with a cross stuck in it; fan; afghan (shawl or dog);
  84. call - call girl; E.T. (call home );
  85. first - thirst (in desert) = canteen; purse;
  86. people - pee on a pole; pee apple (apple peeing…apple juice?);
  87. may - may pole; May Day (parade); maid; mayfly;
  88. down ~ goose (source of down); street sign pointing down; drowned (body);
  89. side - a slide; sliders (little hamburgers); side of fries;
  90. been - garbage bin; Big Ben (clock); Ben (the rat in the movie “Ben”);
  91. now ~ Noah; N.O.W. (women protesters burning their bras);
  92. find - fiend;
  93. any -" innie" belly button; Annie (from the play);
  94. new - nude;
  95. work - wok; wreck; ship wreck;
  96. part - part (in hair); fart; peeing art;
  97. take ~Taken (movie with Liam Neeson); steak; stake; cake;
  98. get ~ Get Smart (TV spy comedy); glitter; grit; grits;
  99. place - plate; palace;
  100. made - maid*; maiden; Maid Marian (Robin Hood’s main squeeze);
  101. live - liver: live-Live TV reporter,
  102. where - wares; warehouse; were-wolf*;
  103. after - aft of ship; after-shave;
  104. back ~ backpack; baby back ribs; big butt woman (“baby got back”);
  105. little - Stuart Little; litter; liter; Little Big Man(Indian Chief);
  106. only ~ Puff the Magic dragon (…in land called Honah Lee); ornery; horny; honey;
  107. round - round (a bullet); round-robin; round table(knight’s of the);
  108. man - man; a manly man; mannequin;
  109. year - ear, ear with ear ring);
  110. came - cane; orgasm;
  111. show - Broadway show;
  112. every - ivory; ivy; Everest (Mt.);
  113. good - God; goad; goal; Goodbar (a chocolate peanut candy bar);
  114. me ~ meal; opera singer (singing"me me,me" - and she’s fat and sings last);
  115. give - grieve;
  116. our ~ hour glass; owl*;
  117. under ~ underwear; underpants; udder*;
  118. name ~ lame; Nemo;
  119. very - Vera (from Brit T.V. detective series); vermin;
  120. through - throne; throng; tunnel (to go through);
  121. just - justice; Lady Justice; Justin Bieber;
  122. form - foam; farm;
  123. much - mulch; munch; munchkin;
  124. great - grater (cheese), gator (alligator); Alexander the Great;
  125. think ~ The Thinker (Rodin’s); sink; fink; finch (small bird); Barton Fink;
  126. say ~ Satan; Marquis de Sade; suede(blue suede shoes);
  127. help - whelp; kelp;
  128. low - Sweet & Low(artificial sweetener - the pink one); Lowe (Rob);
  129. line - What’s my Line; fishing line; clothes line; coke line;
  130. before - bees playing golf; bee’s fort;
  131. turn - turd; tern; Turner (Tina); Turner (Edward);
    140;cause - claws; Santa Claus, coz’ (cousin);
  132. same - shame: Shane:
  133. mean - Mean girls; meanies;
  134. differ - drifter; Drifters (the band);
  135. move - movie projector;
  136. right - Mr. Right; Wright brothers (their plane);
  137. boy - boy;
  138. old - gold; mold;
  139. too - glue*; tutu* tomato*; tooth*; tuba;
  140. does - doves*; does (several female deer together);
  141. tell - Tell (William); telephone;
    …-BONUS- …LAGNIAPPE…as they say in Louisiana …
  142. sentence - Santana (Carlos); singing tents; sentries;
  143. set - a tennis set (2 players competing); stage set;
  144. three - use your symbol for 3; triplets;
  145. want - won ton soup; wonk; wanton person;
  146. air - air; heir*; airhead; Air Jordans;
  147. well - well; (wishing or old-fashioned); oil well; Wells (H.G.);
  148. also - a sewing contest (with lots of people); ozone; a group of people all sewn together.
  149. play - play-do; player ( a Casanova);
  150. small - Biggie Smalls; The Incredible Shrinking man;
  151. end - Porky Pig (saying “Th- Th- Th-Th-Th- … That’s all folks!”);

I think I’m done with this, although no doubt there are still mistakes here. So, if anybody was following this post, thanks for your patience. I may do another post, and put this list along with about another 100 common words into an alphabetical order listing.


I’m sorry it took me so long to finish the list above. I have no home computer, I’m a horribly SLOW typist, plus after awhile, this site decided I was a robot, and so several times I lost what I had just typed. But that posting is done. Making this list helped me in that it greatly expanded the number of common word - mnemonic images than what I had previously. Before, I probably had about 20 words-mnemonic image pairings, and even that small amount was a big help. Ex. in memorizing the 1st section of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Const. I could never always recall that it began as “All persons born” or "Any person born’ until I came up with the image of “Buffy the Vampire killer (my symbol for #14) using an awl (my image for “all”) to bore ( born) into persons (or perVERT’S sons). Now, I don’t forget. Of course not every word needs to be converted into an 'image”…for me, the meaning and the important words of a text are remembered, it’s the support words I forget.

So, converting common words into mnemonic images, (C.W.I.M.I. or “Swami”), can I think be really usefully for those of us with non great natural memories, to be in a better position to long term remember text verbatim.

So I’m seriously thinking of putting the list of the 1st 160 most common words, along with several hundred other common words into alphabetical order, and posting it either under this posting or a new one. If anyone wants to contribute their own word-mnemonic image pairings, it would be really appreciated by me. I’m, and I suspect tarnation is as well, of the Boomer generation, and so some of our word pairings may have be too obtuse for most of the younger membership here.

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That works out to be a good thing for me as I am a terribly slow reader. :wink:

Nice work, Thom.

By the way, since doing this, I have found it more useful than I originally expected.

This is brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks tarnation & Bonsai. Your encouragement means a lot.

Yes. it is interesting in how putting up a list like this opens up the ability to remember material more effectively.

So, putting the common word -mnemonic image parings in order of which words are most common, is a good way of realizing which word parings should first be learned, going through that list to find a particular word is trying.

So, if I decide to do a another list, adding more words, and putting it into alphabetical order, should it be added to this posting, or a new one? And if a new one, is it best to post it under Memory Systems and Techniques Forum, or one of the other forums like the Poetry or Teaching forums?


Here is the beginnings of the list of 160 most commonly used words, listed in alphabetical order, This is the same list as I put together before (in post #11), putting together a list of suggested mnemonic images to pair with them or the SWAMI Memory System (Simple Words Alternated ((into)) Mnemonic Images ). Numbers in the bracket denotes that word’s ranking.

[5] - a ~ apple; ape; A-bomb;
[58] - about ~ a boat; Albert(Fat Albert); a bolt; boxing match;
[111] - after -aft(of a ship): after shave;
[155] - air - air (puff);hair*;airhead; Air Jordan; Airedale (dog breed);
[40] - all ~ All (dishwashing soap); awl (hand tool to bore holes);
[157] - also - a sewing contest with lots of people competing; a group of people all sown together; aloe; ape with a lasso (“a”=ape and “lso” = lasso);
[48] - an- ant; aunt ( the way many Americans pronounce the word );
[4] - and ~android; hand; Ann (Raggedy Ann -or Andy);
[101] -any -“innie” belly button; Annie (from the play);
[15] - are ~Ares; pirates(pirates say ''arrarahh" … or something like that! );
[17] - as - ass (donkey) asp;
[22] - at - At-At (Star Wars); bat*; vat; atom; Attila (the Hun); Attucks (Crispus);

[112] - back ~ backpack; baby back ribs; big butt woman ('Baby got back!");
[21] - be ~bee; Hamlet (“To be or not to be”);
[138] - before - bee playing golf(fore!); bee’s fort;
[98] - been-garbage bin; Big Ben(the clock); Ben (the rat in the movie “Ben”);
[146] - boy - a boy; boy toy;
[31] - but ~ butt; cigarette butt; bat*; boot;
[29] - by ~ buy; baby waving bye-bye; bisexual;

[92] - call - call girl; E.T. (call home);
[118] - came - cane; orgasm; Cain;
[36] - can ~ can (tin); candy; candy striper;
[140] - cause - claws; Santa Claus; coz (cousin)
[80] - come ~ ejaculate; comb; honeycomb (dripping);
[78] - could ~ cold; coal; cud (a cow’s);

[77] - day~ Doris day; Sandra Day (O’Connor); Daniel Day-Lewis; pay day (peanut candy bar);
[ 81] -did- deed; dildo; dead; Katy-did (insect);
[143] - differ - drifter; Drifters(the band);
[53] - do ~doo - doo;(doggy-doo); Do (big hair) dew(morning moisture); Dew (Mountain);
[149] - does - doves;*, does( girl deers);
[96] - down ~ goose (source of down); street sign pointing down; drowned (body);

[49] - each - peach; itch; beach;
[160] - end - Porky Pig (saying"Th-Th-Th-Th-Th … That’s all folks!");
[120] - every - ivory; ivy; Everest (Mt.);

[100] - find - fiend;
[93] - first - thirst (in desert) = canteen; purse;
[13] - for ~fore(golf); frog*; Ford(truck); Ford (Henry or Gerald);
[130] - form - foam; farm;
[26} - from ~ fromage (French for cheese); frump; frumpy(person); prom; drum; frown; frog*; frond(fern leaf); rum (cask of);

[106] - get ~ Get Smart(TV spy comedy); glitter; grit; grits;
[123] - give - grieve;
[79] - go ~ Go to Jail (Monolopy): the game of Go; go-go dancer;
[121] - good - God; goad; goal; Goodbar (a chocolate peanut candy bar);
[132] - great - grater (cheese); gator (alligator); Alexander (the Great

[28] - had ~ Hades; Mad Hatter;
[74] - has - ash; haze (Purple?); hash (beef) hashish;;
[24] - have ~heaven; halve (cut the image in half);
[11] - he ~healer; He- man*; Hee -Haw (name of old country music & comedy show - also a term for a country rube);
[135] - help - whelp; kelp;
[67] - her ~hearse; hermaphrodite; hermit; Hercules; Hearst (William Randolph); herd ( a herd of hers!); Hermes;
[72] - him ~hymn*; hem*; ham;
[19] - his ~ hiss (cat hissing); Hermann Hesse; Rudolf Hess;
[487] - hot - hot pants; hotties; hut; thot (that ho’ over there);hot potato; Hottentot; hot pepper;
[46] - how - Howard the Duck; Howard (Cosell); Howard (Hughes); howl (wolf howling); Indian warrior greeting “How”;

[18] - I ~ aye aye; eyeball; glass eye; (suggestion -use “glass eye” for “I” and ''eyeball" for “eye”;
[55] -if ~ Eiffel Tower; elf;
[6] - in ~ inn; motel; hen*;
[7] - is ~ Isis (terrorist idiots) or (goddess); Izzy: Liz: lizard;
[8] - it ~ Cousin It (Addam’s Family); Clown (from S. king’s novel “IT”);

[129] Just ~ Justices; Lady Justice; Justin Bieber;

[89] - know ~ canoe; snow*;

[64] - Like ` lick; Ike (Eisenhower - “I like Ike”); dike;
[137] - line - What’s my Line; clothes line; coke line;
[113] - little - Stuart Little; litter; liter; Little Big Man;
[109] - live - liver; Live- live T.V. reporter;;
[68] - long - Long John Silver; lung; lung fish;
[75] - look ~ Lucky Luke; Look magazine; binoculars;
[136] low - Sweet & Low (artificial sweetner -the pink pack one); Lowe(Rob); Lowe’s (giant box hardware store chain);

[108] - made - maid*; maiden; Maid Marian(Robin Hood’s main squeeze,);
[69] - make ~ Maker (from Dune); Maker’s Mark ( a good Bourbon whiskey); a Big Mac; Mack Truck;
[116] - man - man; a manly man; mannequin;
[ 59] - many - Minnie Mouse; minnie ball; mini dress; minion; minivan; minnow; Moonies;
[95] - may -May Pole; May Day parade; maid*; mayfly;
[122] - me ~ meal; opera singer (singing "me me me’’…and she’s fat and sing’s last);
[142] - mean - mean girls; meanies;
[76] - more ~ lawn mower; moor; Moors; Moore (Thomas);
[85] - most- mast; moose;
[144] - move - movie; movie projector;
[131] - much - mulch; munch, munchies; munchkin;
[82] - my ~ myna (bird), Maya Angelou; Mayan;

[126] - name - lame; Nemo;
[102] - new - nude; new penny(shiny);
[84] - no ~ Dr. No; a toddler stomping his feet and yelling “NO!”);
[30] - not ~ knot; Don Knott; Fort Knox; slip knot;
[99] - now ~ Noah; N.O.W. (Women protesters burning their bras);
[86] - number - Limburger cheese; NUNs on ice BERg; Nuremberg Trails;

[2] - of ~ oven; dove; glove;
[147] - old -gold; mold; Old Father Williams,( and standing on his head);
[14] - on ~ onion; switch(on light switch); iron (clothes iron); Iron (Man);
[23] - one ~ Juan (Don Juan); wand;
[114] - only ~ Puff the Magic Dragon(…in land called Honah Lee); ornery; horny, honey*;
[27] - or ~ ore; oar; ruins of orr;
[38] - other - otter, udder;(cow’s);
[124] - our ~ hour glass; owl*;
[37] - out ~ outhouse; umpire shouting “You’re OUT!”; Lady Macbeth (Out damn spot!);
[88] - over -oven*; overcoat(on a dude with nothing else on!); Judy Garland(Dorthy) singing "somewhere over the rainbow’;

[104] - part - part(in hair); fart (parts the crowd); peeing art ( make “p” to peeing ,then take “art”);
[94] - people - peeing on a pole; apples peeing(apple juice?); apple people; a pea on top a pole and a princess sleeping restless on top of it;
[107] - place - plate (place setting); palace;
[158] - play - play dough; player ( a Casanova);

[145] - right - Mr. Right, Wright Brothers(and their plane); “You’re Bloody Damn Right…”;
[115] - round ( a bullet); round-robin; round table (Knights of the … );

[47] - said - sled; Sid (Ceasar); sad (sad clown); Sid(Vicious);
[141] - same - shame, Shane; Sam (I am);
[134] - say ~ Satan*; Marquis de Sade; suede (blue suede shoes… Elvis?);
[71] - see ~ seal; (Navy Seal) seal(animal); sea; sea weed* (kelp); seed; see-saw;
[151] - sentence - Santana (Carlos); singing tents; sentries;
[152] - set - a tennis set; (2players competing); stage set; chess set;
[50] - she ~ shepherd; She-Ra(Princess of Power) sheep;
[119] - show - Broadway Show; snow; a Broadway show done by snowmen-(it’s a snow show stopper!);
[97] - side - a slide(kid’s or a ruler); sliders(little hamburgers); side of fries ( or Fry from Teen Aqua Hunger Force);
[159] - small - Biggie Smalls; The Incredible Shrinking man;
[65] - so ~ sew, sewing, snow*;
[32] - some - sum (of the equation); slum; slump pump;
[83] - sound - sounder; hound; Hound of Baskerville; sonar;

[105] - take- Taken(movie with Liam Neeson); steak, stake;; cake(take the cake and run…with Liam Neeson giving chase!);
[150] - tell (William); telephone; the telly (T.V.); tell(cash register);
[91] - than - van; hand*;; hand with a cross stuck in it; fan; Afghan ( shawl or dog… or both);
[10] - that ~ Thatcher (Margaret); thot* (ho’); holy hat ("t’ is the cross on top of the hat); phat(sexy girl);
[1] - the ~ theater; drop the “t” and get he-- and use He-Man; tea; thug; tee(golf thingy);
[53] - their ~ Truth or Dare; heir;
[61] - them - thumb (hitch hike); hymn; hem (of dress- with little crosses dangling from the end of the hem);
[60] - then ~ Thin Man; hen* Ken (Barbie’s);
[34] - there ~ dare devil; hare;(hare with a cross … Holy hare);
[60] - these - bees (many of them) “dez nuts” (famous saying loved by teenage boys); a tease; ((a girl despised by teenage boys);
[20] - they - Dey (Susan); hay; cross -t- on a pile of hay ( holy hay);
[70] - thing ~ Thing (Fantastic Four); ding-a- ling: The Thing (from the movie-for the plural form of thing -things);
[133] - think ~The Thinker(Rodin’s); sink; finch; fink; Barton Fink
;[25] - this ~ thistle; cobra hissing ( t is the shape of a risen cobra - and it’s hissing);
[153] - three - use your symbol for 3, throne; triplets;
[128] - through - throne; throng; tunnel (to go through a …);
[54] - time ~ time machine; a dime with a tiny clock on it; alarm clock with large ringing bells on it; slime;
[2] - to ~tomato*; tutu*; glue*; tooth*; toot*;
[148] - too ~ glue*; tutu*; tomato*; tooth*; tuba; tube;
[139] - turn - turd*; tern; Turner; (Tina) or (Edward);
[73] - two ~ use your image for 2; tuba*; shoe; twins; Siamese twins; tutu*; glue*;

[125] - under ~ underwear; underpants; udder*;
[43] - up ~ Up (animated movie); a street sign point upwards, and everything up is floating upwards; throw up*;
[44] - use - Jews;; Uzi (machine gun);

[127] - very - Vera (from Brit T.V. detective series); vermin;

[154] - want - wonton soup; wonk; wanton person;
[12] - was ~ wasp; wuss; coward; Fuzzy Wuzzy; rust; wet donkey ( "w= wet and “as” = ass = donkey);
[96] - water - water (glass of, drop of); waiter; Walter Conkrite; Walt Disney
[57] - way- wave (giant wave); large crowd doing “The Wave”; Milky Way (our galaxy); Milky Way (candy bar);
[35] - we ~ weeping willow; we-we; peeing;
[156] - well- well (wishing or old fashioned one); oil well; Wells ( H.G. or Olson);
[39] - were ~ were-wolf*; weirdo, worm*;
[33] - what ~ watt (light bulb); Watson (Dr. or Mr.) wet hat (‘w’ stands for wet and add ‘hat to it);
[42] - when ~ Wayne (from Wayne’s World); John Wayne; wet hen ("w’ = wet, and add “hen” to it);
[110] - where - wares; warehouse; were-wolf*;
[51] - which ~ witch; switch ( used to whip & chase bad little children with ); wrench; wench;
[87] - who ~ owl*; Dr. Who; The Who (Rock band); Horton (Hears a Who!);
[56] - will ~ Wilkinson blade; Last Will & Testament; Will Robinson (from T.V. show “Lost in Space”);
[16] - with ~ withered; width ~ (make image very wide) whip;
[45] - word - Bible (The Word); perv; turd*:
[103] - work - wok; wreck; shipwreck;
[62] - would ~ wood; wooden world (or globe) Woody Woodpecker); wood pile; woodchuck;
[63] - write - rite dye (wet rite dye); last rites;

[117] - year - ear; ear (with ear ring);
[9] - you ~ ewe; U-turn street sign; You Tube; Ubik; Uber;
[41] - your ~ yore (picture knight in suit of armor; yolk(egg) York Peppermint Patty) yoke (on ox);

This should be complete. There is 161 words on this list -the first 160 most common words, as found on I also included “hot” which was listed as #487,but also listed as #30,which is probably “not”. The mnemonic images used came from a list by tarnation(post #9), a list from Memory Techniques Wiki, and lastly, what I could come up with myself, …which makes me reflect on the story George Foreman told on himself about fighting Muhammad Ali, that after he punched Ali as hard as he could, Ali whispered dismissively into Foreman’s ear, “Is that all you got boy?”, and Foreman said to himself, "That is ALL I’ve got!).

So this is what I could do. I hope that it’ll be of some use to others.
Even though this list represents more than half the amount of the total of words spoken and written every day, I hope to eventually make an upgrade to this list that will include another several hundred more common abstract words, mainly verbs and irregular verbs, which I think will make this list even more usefull for verbatim memorization.


This is a very interesting thread. I am very pleased to see people trying to define pre-established substitute words because this is one of my main interests right now. The problem is that I am trying to do it the hardest way possible and, for now, I am going nowhere.

I want images to be related to the meaning of the words, but this is really hard to accomplish, specially if one needs to attain to the mnemonic principles of extravagant, striking images. Now, when I imagine “at-at” for “at” or “goose” for “down”, I can’t help but think these are awesome images for such abstract concepts. How to beat that?

Anyway, I have a more concrete question that assails me constantly. What if we need to memorise sentences which words are used in our mnemonic list? In other words, what if our sentence-to-be-memorised is (somehow) talking about Margaret Thatcher, Jews and the Bible (“the”, “use” and “word”, respectively, according to tarnation/Thom’s list)? Would we have different images for Thatcher, Jews and the Bible in spite of the fact that we had chosen them in the first place because of their concreteness (or whatever other aspect)? Or should we use some kind of “marker” in the image to show that they should be understood “literally” instead of metaphorically?

I hope I’ve made myself understood… Thanks!


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Just to “fan the flames” a bit, imagine that we take the taunting task of finding a substitute word for EVERY word in the English vocabulary (and succeed): such overlap between to-be-memorised words and mnemonic images would be unavoidable and constant. What to do then?

Moreover, there are lots of homonyms (words with the same spellings but different meanings) in the language. So, we find a substitute word based on sound resemblance (as close to a homophone as possible), but we want to convey different meanings: how to cope with that? OK, use context like we do to disambiguate homonyms, you might argue. And I must agree. But if we are creating a new language of some sort – a mental one – do we need to keep the same caveats of our spoken one? This is one of the reasons I want to use meaning instead of sound, to have mnemonic images that can be unequivocally decoded.

Very difficult stuff, but fascinating nevertheless.

To understand word frequency, see Zipf’s Law.


I don’t have much time today to respond to Mnemoriam’s remarks and questions, but they are good ones. I’ll try to get back to you by Monday or so.
Truly, part of what I’m trying to do here is underlined by Zipf’s Law.

Also, my image for “from” is “frog”, but I would never confuse it for a real frog, because I have the image of it as being the drawing by Andy Wahole’s(sic) tree frog drawing in his endangered wildlife series. Just as ‘and’ is “hand”, but the specific one in the Addam’s Family T.V. show, and would not be confused with an image for the word “hand”…
Got to go… Gods willing,… back later.

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