- An aid to the memory, especially a book or document.
- An informal diplomatic message.
“I keep an aide-mémoire taped to my desk with all the keyboard shortcuts I use regularly.”
“The tech updates are tricky, so we should provide an aide-mémoire to our customers to remind them how to use it.”
“The ambassador sent an aide-mémoire to the consulate to alert the staff of the upcoming local holiday.”
French, mid-19th century
Why this word?
“Aide-mémoire” translates directly from French to “memory aid,” but a good synonym for it could be “mnemonic device.” The latter term is a pattern or association used to remember something, such as the word “HOMES” to remember the names of the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior). But an aide-mémoire isn’t always so pithy — it can be a sticky-note reminder, a guide book, a flier, or anything else that helps retain memories. The other definition of “aide-mémoire” (“an informal diplomatic memo”) came into English around the same time, but it didn’t catch hold as firmly as the memory aid usage did.
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