Roy G Biv goes to Olympus

Mnemonics. Ways to remember something. I’ve encountered a number of them in my life, and it is remarkable how many I remember and how effective they are.

So who is Roy G. Biv? Rainbow man, the colors of the visible light spectrum, in order of descending wavelength. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. The divisions here are a bit artificial, as the colors/light changes continuously and when one color stops and another begins is literally in the eye of the beholder. I think I learned this one in jr. high, and its definitely stuck with me.

A rat in the house may eat the ice cream. The first letter of each word in this spells out arithmetic. I learned this one relatively early in elementary school, although it took me a while to realize that one only used the first letter of the words in the saying to get to arithmetic. This is a reverse acronym. The more common usage is when a single word is the reminder, as in KISS–Keep It Simple, Stupid or MYOB–Mind Your Own Business.

Red and yellow kill a fellow, red and black, venom lack. A mnemonic to tell the difference between the venomous coral snake and the similarly colored king snake, which isn’t poisonous. Despite the fellow in the saying, I learned this in girl scouts. And I lived in Colorado, where the only poisonous snake is the rattlesnake. Fifty years later, I haven’t forgotten.

On Old Olympus Topmost Top, A Finn and German Viewed Some Hops. A mnemonic for the 12 cranial nerves, in order. Olfactory, Optic, Oculomotor, Trochlear, Trigeminal, Abducens, Facial, Auditory (or Vestibulocochlear),Glossopharyngeal, Vagus, Spinal Accessory, Hypoglossal. I was introduced to this in high school anatomy class, and have met a number of variations since, some considerably more ribald. Medical students have a lot of memorizing to do, and it seems that the more colorful the mnemonic, the easier it is to recall.  This one illustrates one of the difficulties of some mnemonics. The 6th nerve, learned as Auditory or Acoustic, is now more often known as vestibulocochlear, and the 11th, which I learned as spinal accessory, is more commonly known as accessory. Hard to update something which is well stuck in deep memory.

And closing on a high note, (pun intended) here are a few from music: Every Good Boy Does Fine, which is the notes corresponding to the lines of the treble clef, and FACE, which is the notes corresponding to the spaces. Again, learned in elementary school and still in there.

Mnemonics are fun, and effective, and now that I’ve started thinking about them in response to today’s prompt, I suspect a number more will be crawling out from the under the rocks of my memory. Do you have some favorites?


6 thoughts on “Roy G Biv goes to Olympus

  1. I have always struggled with things that require memorization. Mnemonics never really worked for me when it mattered. I remember KISS and Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (Does Fine)..why I remember those, I have no idea!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. its a quirky thing, for sure. My partner, who is a musician, remembers numbers by sounds, chords, etc. Wouldn’t work for me a bit, I’m much more inclined to link by alphabetical order or word connections

      Liked by 1 person

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