Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memory -- mnesia

Memorial Day (formerly Decoration Day) was established by proclamation of General John Logan on May 5, 1868, to honor those who had died in the American Civil War. After World War I, attention shifted to American soldiers lost in any war.

Memory is invoked to honor their supreme sacrifice and to recall the adage that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

This solemn holiday aside, there are a few words with built-in memory. Let’s review some of them. In all cases, I’ve selected words based on the root mnesia, Greek for memory.

• amnesia: loss of memory [a = privative]

• automnesia: spontaneous revival of memories of an earlier condition of life [auto = self]

• cryptomnesia: submerged or subliminal memory of events forgotten by the supraliminal self [crypto = hidden]

• ecmnesia: loss of memory with regard to the events of a particular period [ec = out]

• hypermnesia: unusual power of memory [hyper = beyond]

• paramnesia: memory that is unreal, illusory, or distorted, especially the phenomenon of déjà vu [para = beyond]

• promnesia: the illusory memory of having experienced something before; déjà vu [pro = before in time]

SIDEBAR: Memory Improvement

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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