Hang Memories on Pegs - dummies

By American Geriatrics Society (AGS), Health in Aging Foundation

Word pegs are so named because you do just that — you peg a word to another word or number that’s easier to remember. Pegs are “hooks” that you can use to hold the word you’re trying to remember, just like a coat rack peg holds your jacket. By thinking of the peg word, you think of the word you want to remember.

To put the peg system into action, try the following brain workout. The goal is to remember a list of ten words, in order. Sound hard? Don’t worry, here’s a hint: The pegs for remembering the words are the numbers one through ten.

The words you need to recall appear in the following list. Slowly read through the list just one time, and, as you do, attach a number to each word, beginning with one:

  • Sun
  • Due
  • Sea
  • Door
  • Hive
  • Stick
  • Heaven
  • Gate
  • Tine
  • Hen

Now, quick — cover up the list! Can you repeat the words in order? (No peeking!) Sure you can. The pegged word ties to the number. All you have to do is run through the numbers one to ten to remember the words. Each number is pegged to a rhyming word that you remember by association.

This example uses phonetic or rhyming mnemonics. The rhyming words (one sun, two due) enable you to remember the list in order of the increasing numbers by looking at their sounds (phonetics) and rhyming with the numbers.

This is a simple example, but you get the point: Peg words attach easily to the words you want to remember. Making the peg word rhyme with the target word makes this technique easy to use. For example, in “eight gate,” the sound of the word gate gives you the clue you need.

You can also use alphabet pegs to tie letters to words. The letter of the alphabet can be either a rhyme or just contain the letter within it. For example:

A-acorn B-bee
C-sea D-dog
E-eel F-frog
G-goat H-hut
I-eye J-jay
K-cake L-elf
M-mate N-nut
O-oh P-pea
Q-cue R-ray
S-star T-tea
U-umbrella V-volt
W-wheel X-axe
Y-why Z-zebra

You can use letter pegs by just tying your memory to the first letter of a word. A first-letter memory clue is quite economical because it narrows your search down to a letter. All you have to do is associate the first letter of a word with what you’re trying to remember, such as using the acronym ROY G. BIV to remember the colors of the rainbow. Using the first letter of each color, you spell out this name, which makes remembering red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. You’re pegging each color to a letter.