noun, plural me·men·tos, me·men·toes.

an object or item that serves to remind one of a person, past event, etc.; keepsake; souvenir.
anything serving as a reminder or warning.
(initial capital letter, italics) Roman Catholic Church. either of two prayers in the canon of the Mass, one for persons living and the other for persons dead.

Origin of memento

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin mementō, imperative of meminisse to remember
Can be confusedmemento momentum

Usage note

Memento is sometimes spelled momento, perhaps by association with moment. The word is actually related to remember. One of its earliest meanings was “something that serves to warn.” The meaning “souvenir” is a recent development: The stone animal carvings are mementos of our trip to Victoria. Momento is considered by many to be a misspelling, but it occurs so frequently in edited writing that some regard it as a variant spelling rather than an error. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mementos

Contemporary Examples of mementos

  • Fleeing their homes, many Syrians left behind middle-class lives; most arrived with none of the mementos that stir memory.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Drawing on the Memories of Syrian Women

    Masha Hamilton

    November 26, 2014

  • “In theory these mementos serve to bring back the moment,” she writes in the book.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Didion Nearly Scrapped New Memoir

    Susan Cheever

    October 29, 2011

  • The room is deliciously crowded with books, photographs, and mementos—things Didion once treasured for the memories they evoked.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Didion Nearly Scrapped New Memoir

    Susan Cheever

    October 29, 2011

Historical Examples of mementos

  • Here were representatives of the living and mementos of the dead!

  • And, though unselfish, she did want to retain some mementos of her foreign trip.

    Patty's Success

    Carolyn Wells

  • Then she brought two other mementos and hung them also on the wall.

    The Master of Warlock

    George Cary Eggleston

  • The father of her son looks into her eyes and points to the mementos of their early love.


    James Huneker

  • They also place them about and upon the dead bodies of their friends, as mementos of affection.

British Dictionary definitions for mementos


noun plural -tos or -toes

something that reminds one of past events; souvenir
RC Church either of two prayers occurring during the Mass

Word Origin for memento

C15: from Latin, imperative of meminisse to remember
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for mementos



c.1400, "Psalm cxxxi in the Canon of the Mass" (which begins with the Latin word Memento and in which the dead are commemorated), from Latin memento "remember," imperative of meminisse "to remember, recollect, think of, bear in mind," a reduplicated form, related to mens "mind" (see mind (n.)). Meaning "reminder, object serving as a warning" is from 1580s; sense of "keepsake" is first recorded 1768.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper