Remembering names using imagery

Visualise key elements to remember names

Remembering names using imagery is one of the key memory improvement tips for remembering names. Here’s a list of some names that are particularly easy to visualise and remember, if you bear in mind some simple memory improvement tips. Using some basic memory techniques, you should be able to form easily remembered images that will bring them to mind. They’ll provide something to practise on so that you can further develop your memory techniques, because, like anything else, it takes a bit of practice to become really proficient.

Create images that include the person

Take a look through the list and spend a little time visualising each one and see how easy it becomes to attach an image to a name. If you can think of someone with that name, imagine that person actually in the picture, and if it’s animated (and it should be), include them in the action. Use creative visualisation to come up with a suitable and interesting image. Remembering names isn’t quite so difficult if you approach it this way and make a bit of a game of it.

Thatcher thatching a roof - remembering names is easier if you link them to professions or jobs

Many names originate in occupations and professions from long ago

Most of the names have strong visual elements. Some can easily be linked to well known characters or familiar, everyday items and products, which makes it even easier. Remembering names becomes a lot easier if you can manage to link the person to an image of a celebrity or a TV character.

A few have good visual connotations in another language (e.g. Estelle – Star), or hark back to trades and professions from the past (e.g. thatcher, porter, arrowsmith, farrier, sawyer, ackerman, etc).

Look for the hidden links when remembering names

Paul Anka - remembering names with images is easier

Be on the lookout for hidden (and very useful) image links

Because some have different spellings from what you might normally use for the appropriate visual image (e.g. Anka – anchor), it’s sometimes tricky to see that there is actually a handy and useable visual link. If the meaning of some of the names is unclear (e.g. Jagger, Chapman, Chandler), look them up – it’s far more likely that the information will stick in your memory if you make an effort to learn more about the names themselves.

AArcher, Arkwright, Armstrong, Abbey, Abbott, Adamson, Arrowsmith, Anker/Anka, Almond, Avery, Abraham, Ackerman, Adams, Adler
BBowler, Boardman, Baxter, Brewer, Brewster, Butler, Black, Brown, Booth, Bell, Baker, Burns, Buckley, Brooks, Bruce, Blair, Bronson, Baird, Ball, Blackstone, Bishop, Booker, Banner, Bannerman, Brand, Branson, Bronson, Bickerstaff, Brooks, Bolton, Bacon, Blackwell, Bailey, Barber, Barker, Beardsley, Beaumont, Belmonte, Blackman
CChessman, Carr, Campbell, Carter, Cooper, Coates, Clark, Chambers, Churchill, Chapman, Currie, Costello, Creasey, Cook(e), Cookson, Chalk, Crane, Cameron, Chandler, Carling, Coleman, Chapman, Cousins, Cannon, Carlisle, Carpenter, Carroll, Carver, Casey, Christian, Clay, Clifton, Croft, Cropper, Cross
DDean, Dale, Dyer, Duckworth, Darling, Dabney, Decker, Denton, Dillon, Drummond, Driver, Draper, Day, Dexter, Dupont
EEarl, Estelle, Eastman, Eagle, Eastwood, Emery, Easton, Erikson,
FFarmer, Fox, French, Featherstone, Fishgold, Fairhead, Fisher, Freeman, Fletcher, Forsyth, Farrier, Forrest, Farina, Fairclough, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Ford, Fowler, Foster, Fuchs, Fry, Fuller
GGardner, Garner, Green, Grey, Gray, Goldman, Goodwin, Goldstein, Goldwyn, Golding, Grayson, Gutteridge, Goode, Granger, Graves, Greenberg, Griffin, Guinness, Groves,
HHunter, Holmes, Horseman, Houseman, Hall, Harper, Holly, Hill, Hunt, Hope, Hooper, Hawk(e), Hawksworth, Honeywell, Hackett, Haggard, Hanson, Hardy, Harding, Harley, Harris, Harrison, Hart, Hathaway, Hayley, Heath, Henderson, Hepburn, Hightower, Hilton, Hollins, Holt, Hyland, Highdale
IIvy, Isles, Isleworth
JJagger, Jamieson, Joiner, Jolley, Jay(e), Jacobson, Jansen, Johnson,
KKing, Kingsley, Khan, Kimble, Kingsmill, Kellogg, Kent, Kehoe, Keegan, Keen, Kane/Cain, Kaye, Knight, Keys, Karlsson, Kaufman, Kay(e), Kemp, Kitchen, Klerk, Kramer, Kranz, Kristensen, Kruger
LLamb, Little, Large, Leadbetter, Lawson, Loftus, Longfellow, Longstreet, Lindberg, Lightfoot, Leatherbarrow, Lee, Lancaster, Lockwood, Labelle, Lacey, Lane, Langley, Lavigne, Levesque, Linden, Lindgren, Lindstrom, Longstaff(e),
MMiller, Milner (Milliner), McDonald, Miles, Morgan, Murray, Marx, Marks, Marsh, Mason, Maclaren, Morse, Moore, Moody, MacAdam
NNewberry, Newhouse, Nelson, Nickerson, Naylor, Nixon, Neeley, Newhall, Newfield, Newcombe, Newell, Nuttall, Nelson, Norris
OOaks, Oates, O'Neill, Orchard, Otterbury, Overman, Oakley, Olmos, Olson
PPorter, Palmer, Price, Parker, Poynter, Pike, Penrose, Plant, Peabody, Parish, Page, Poundstone, Penn, Pinkerton, Poole, Pierce, Park, Piper, Pidgeon, Parsons, Parry, Patterson, Pemberton, Perry, Piper, Potter, Precott, Power(s), Proudfoot
QQuayle, Quinn, Quigley, Quick, Quirke
RRedman, Redpath, Robbins, Rowe, Redding, Robinson, Rose, Rogers, Rice, Ross, Ryder, Rhodes, Rodman, Robson, Radcliffe, Riley, Rider, Rigby, Rimmer, Roosevelt, Rosenberg, Ross, Rowe, Rowntree, Royle, Rush,
SShaw, Salmon, Stone, Steele, Silva, Shah, Scott, Stockwell, Shakeshaft, Shakespeare, Sherman, Sharp, Stuart, Silverberg, Swift, Sinclair, Sawyer, Smith, Sanders, Stoker, Sergeant, Smallwood, Smalley, Swan, Sandfield, Skinner, Sadler, Samson, Sangster, Sands, Shepherd, Sherman, Shriver, Siegel, Silverstein,
TThatcher, Taylor, Teller, Turner, Toomey, Turnbull, Turpin, Tyler, Tetley, Tucker, Trott, Trotter, Thornton, Thorley, Thorson, Timberlake, Tinker, Tollemache, Tyler, Tyson
UUnderhill, Usher, Upchurch, Underwood
VVail, Victor, Valentine, Vandyke, Vann
WWhite, Whitehead, Ward, Watson, Wells, Webb, Woods, Westwood, Walker, Webster, Wise, Wolf, Woodbridge, Weaver, Whitehouse, Woodhouse, Wragg, Wade, Ward, Warren, Waterman, Wayne, Weiss, Westbrook, Wheeler, Whitney, Winter, Woodward,
YYork, Yale, Yeoman, Young, Yates,
ZZimmerman (Dylan)

How to improve your memory for names

Spending time coming up with visual links for names, and then creating suitable images or scenes, might seem a lot of work just to help you remember names more successfully. The fact is that, like anything else, if you want to be particularly good at something, you need to practise. Once you’ve achieved a certain level of expertise, it starts to become natural.

Look for obvious images when remembering names

Lots of names just cry out for you to create appropriate images. Mr. Chessman, for example – you could see him as a giant chess piece (take your pick which one). You might see Mr. Clifton hanging onto a cliff by his fingertips. Maybe Mr. Goldstein is holding a gleaming gold beer stein. Mrs. Kellogg might be gorging herself on a huge bowl of cereal, the milk running down her chin. You could imagine Mr. Redpath strolling down a path paved with bright red bricks. And Miss Lightfoot might have trouble keeping her foot on the ground, it’s so light!

If only all names were like this! Wheeler … he’s rolling a bike wheel along as he walks. Whitehouse … he’s standing in front of a gleaming white house (or the White House). Mr. Steele is literally made of steel, a sort of Iron Man-type superhero (and remember, make these images as clear and as detailed as you can – it will become easier to do that the more you try this method). Palmer is holding a few gigantic palm fronds, and Whitehead … well, obviously he’s got an extraordinarily white head (or very white hair).

Miss Lavigne is holding huge, succulent bunches of grapes. Mr. Kitchen is forever consigned to a miserable kitchen, as in former days when household servants knew their place, and stayed in it. Mr Haggard isn’t looking too well at all, although Miss Pinkerton is looking in the pink!

Remembering names is a skill – you just need practice!

Remembering names when you create interesting images like these isn’t nearly as awkward as doing it without any kind of plan at all. Use images and create zany or unusual scenarios to help you in remembering names and you’ll find it can actually be quite amusing. And when you’re having fun, things stick in your memory!

When you were learning to drive, you had to think about every single manoeuvre, and I’m sure there were times you wondered if you’d ever be able to drive properly. After a while though, it became second nature. It’s worth keeping this in mind while you’re studying anything, not just memory techniques – it all becomes a lot easier, the more you practise.


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