You remind me of someone… (Words for remembering)

by Kate Woodford​​​​
Do you have a good memory? Is your memory so good, it’s photographic, allowing you to remember precise things in exact detail? Perhaps your memory is good at particular things. You might have a good memory for faces or a good memory for names. Or you may not be so lucky. You might be forgetful, (often forgetting things). Worse, you may have a memory/mind like a sieve. (A sieve is a piece of kitchen equipment with a lot of little holes in it!) Whether your memory is good or bad, you will find yourself using words and phrases to describe the process of remembering. This post aims to increase your word power in this area.

Let’s start with useful words and phrases for remembering. Two other ways of saying ‘remember’ are recall and recollect: I seem to recall she was staying with Rachel./I don’t recollect her precise words. If you cast your mind back, you make an effort to think about something from the past: Cast your mind back to that evening we spent with her. Do you remember how sad she seemed? If you succeed in remembering something, you might say you bring or call it to mind: I remember that name, I just can’t call his face to mind. If something – for example a name – rings a bell, it sounds familiar to you, but you can’t remember quite why: The name rang a bell, but I couldn’t remember where I’d heard it.

Of course memories vary in how clear and precise they are. You may have a vivid memory, meaning that it is clear and powerful: I have a vivid memory of my first meeting with him. The opposite is a vague memory: I have a vague memory of going there after school. Both ‘vivid’ and ‘vague’ are used as adverbs before ‘remember’: I vividly/vaguely remember visiting her. Of course, a memory – even a vivid one – may fade (=become less clear) with the passing of time.

Sometimes we experience sudden memories, perhaps caused by being in a particular place or seeing a particular thing. A sudden, clear memory, especially of something unpleasant, can be called a flashback: I had a flashback to my first day at school. If you suddenly experience lots of memories, you may say that memories come flooding back to you: The smell of the building brought the memories flooding back. A humorous expression to mean ‘someone or something from the past that you are reminded of’ is blast from the past: I was amazed to see Andrew there. Talk about a blast from the past!



17 thoughts on “You remind me of someone… (Words for remembering)

  1. Jonathan

    What about “rack my brains”. I reckon that’s a common one. Try very hard to remember something as in “I’ve been racking my brains all day but I can’t remember her name.”

  2. anna

    I can distinctly remember having read all these words about remembering before but unluckily I can’t remember the words themselves!!!! 🙂

  3. ANNA stb

    also: cast your mind back, meaning try to remember. “If you cast your mind back, you might remember that I never said that thing.”

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