“Spring Forward, Fall Back” And Other Memory Tricks

At the beginning of Daylight-Saving Time, we all spring our clocks forward one hour … and gripe about losing an hour of sleep. Then, we all turn around a few months later, fall back, and thank our lucky stars that we get some extra shuteye.

The official term for it is daylight-saving time or daylight-savings time (because we all ended up saying this version more … it’s now official), but the easiest way we’ve found to keep DST straight is the helpful little expression spring forward, fall back. Spring forward and fall back are what we call mnemonics.

Mnemonics (named after the Greek goddess of memory) are tricky little linguistic devices used to remember something … and great mnemonics never go out of fashion. Let’s take a look at a few.

Are these lakes great or what?

From west to east, the lakes are Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. They’re easier to remember with this phrase: Super Man Helps Every One.

Or, if you just want to remember them without regard to placement, try HOMES. Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. Whatever works!

Take off, eh?

A terrific mnemonic for remembering six Canadian provinces in order from west to east is BASMOQ. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. But then, of course, you’ve got to add the somewhat more complicated NNN and & (which some use to remember the rest: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island).

Treble clef musicians, take note

Notes on the lines of the treble clef are E, G, B, D, and F. Thus, we get the mnemonic Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. Favor also works for the F. The notes for the spaces are even easier: FACE.

All the President’s men (on Mt. Rushmore)

Left to right on Mt. Rushmore, we see Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. Why Just Remember Lincoln?

Sorry, Pluto

Remember having to learn the planets in order? Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Remember, Pluto got kicked out of the Planet Club.

That leaves us with My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles. If Pluto had remained, it could’ve read My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles … Promptly.

Always do what worldly nurse says

There are seven continents: Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, Antarctica, and North America. So, Always Eat An Apple Says A Nurse.

Oh, you want to coordinate conjunctions, do you?

Well then, you must be a fanboy (for, and, nor, but, or, yet).

Color my world

If for some unfathomable reason you need to remember all the visible colors of the spectrum, there’s a mnemonic for it.

R for red, O for orange, Y for yellow, G for green, B for blue, I for indigo, and V for violet gets you: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain.

Another popular one is Roy G. Biv, which takes a lot less time to say.

When in Rome

Roman numerals are hard to remember unless you’re a Super Bowl nut or have a collection of old Chicago albums. Here’s a handy mnemonic.

Since I stands for one, V stands for five, X stands for 10, L stands for 50, C stands for 100, D stands for 500, and M stands for 1000, you end up with: I Value Xylophones Like Cows Dig Milk.

A mnemonic for mnemonic

And finally, just because we can … mnemonic is an absolutely impossible word to spell. Voilà: Mary Never Expected Much Or Normally Included Cleo.

You won’t find that one online; we just made it up since we’re the ones who can’t spell it.

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