[ mem-uh-ree ]
/ ˈmɛm ə ri /
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noun, plural mem·o·ries.
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Origin of memory

1275–1325; Middle English memorie<Latin memoria, equivalent to memor mindful, remembering + -ia-y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does memory mean?

Memory is the ability to retain and recall past events or information in a person’s mind, as in Memory is possible thanks to the brain.

Memory can also mean an individual person’s ability to do this, as in I have a really good memory when it comes to people’s names.

Memory can also refer to the actual retained accounts themselves, as in I have a strong memory of last summer.

Memory is an amazing ability that humans (and other animals) have. It refers to the brain’s ability to store accounts or mental images of past events or information. In other words, to remember something.

For example, you use memory to be able to know what your phone number is whenever you are asked. At one time, you learned this information and your brain has kept it available for when you need it.

The verb memorize means to store something as a memory as in I memorized the words to my favorite song.

The noun memorial means something that is intended to preserve a memory of something else, as in We had lunch next to the war memorial outside the museum.

Example: I have to leave myself a lot of reminders because I have a really bad memory.

Where does memory come from?

The first records of memory come from around 1275. It ultimately comes from the Latin memor, meaning “mindful” or “remembering.” The verb remember shares this origin and means “to recall something from memory” or “to try and commit something to memory.”

Not every person’s memory works exactly the same. Some people are really good at remembering things, while others struggle at it. Head injuries and brain disorders, such as amnesia, can also drastically affect a person’s memory or cause memory loss, meaning a person has a much harder time storing memories than they once did.

Computer memory is the storage space for information and applications within the computer or connected to the computer. Unlike a human being, when a computer runs out of memory space, we can usually add more storage space or store the information externally, as on a separate hard drive.

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What are some other forms related to memory?

What are some synonyms for memory?

What are some words that share a root or word element with memory

What are some words that often get used in discussing memory?

How is memory used in real life?

Memory is a common word that often refers to the ability to recall the past or to a person’s mental images of the past. It can also refer to a computer’s storage space for information and applications.


Try using memory!

Which of the following words would most likely be used to describe a memory?

A. present
B. past
C. future

How to use memory in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for memory

/ (ˈmɛmərɪ) /

noun plural -ries

Word Origin for memory

C14: from Old French memorie, from Latin memoria, from memor mindful
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

Scientific definitions for memory

[ mĕmə-rē ]

  1. The ability to remember past experiences or learned information, involving advanced mental processes such as learning, retention, recall, and recognition and resulting from chemical changes between neurons in several different areas of the brain, including the hippocampus. Immediate memory lasts for just a few seconds. Short-term memory stores information that has been minimally processed and is available only for a few minutes, as in remembering a phone number just long enough to use it. Short-term memory is transferred into long-term memory, which can last for many years, only when repeated use of the information facilitates neurochemical changes that allow it to be retained. The loss of memory because of disease or injury is called amnesia.
  2. The collection of information gained from past learning or experience that is stored in a person's mind.
  3. A piece of information, such as the mental image of an experience, that is stored in the memory.
  1. A part of a computer in which data is stored for later use.
  2. The capacity of a computer, chips, and storage devices to preserve data and programs for retrieval. Memory is measured in bytes. See more at hard disk RAM ROM.
The capacity of a material, such as plastic or metal, to return to a previous shape or condition.
The capacity of the immune system to produce a specific immune response to an antigen it has previously encountered.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with memory


see commit to memory; in memory of.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.