Dominic Mnemonic Memory System: Building Your Initial List

Saturday, January 22, 2011
There are some very helpful resources available online to assist in the creation of the list required by those who have decided to use the mnemonic memory technique known as the Dominic system. Let me back up here…

Many years ago, I rode the bus for a few weeks and spent that time reading a book about memory (The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne), in which the author described his technique for memorizing a deck of cards. I decided to take the plunge; I practiced daily as I rode the bus. Like many other people, I surprised myself by succeeding at this; I could repeatedly memorize the order of a shuffled deck of cards after viewing them once. However, I have completely forgotten everything about it at this point.

Having decided to learn a mnemonic memory system once again, I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last few days researching the most famous mnemonic memory systems, including Roman Room, Pegs, Links, Major, SEM Cubed, Loci, etc., and the pros and cons of each method. No doubt there are some relatively new, lesser-known, or proprietary methods I did not find, but my research was more than sufficiently thorough for its purpose. I finally decided to employ the Dominic system, which is similar to the major system (a very popular and ancient mnemonic method) and also includes elements of the peg system, link system, journey method, and sometimes the number-shape system.

I figured the ideal solution would be a mnemonic memory system allowing the memorization of numbers, lists (short and long), a deck of playing cards, the periodic table, etc. – not because I want to memorize all these things now, but because of flexibility and potential.

I chose the Dominic method rather hesitantly at first, due to the initial time investment and also because it is first and foremost a system for memorizing numbers (I wanted a relatively speedy way to learn more than just numbers). On the other hand, I learned that most world record memorization experts eventually started using the Dominic system, or a variant thereof.

Dominic O’Brien, a British mnemonist and author of memory books, created the technique, which he used to memorize the order of 54 shuffled packs of cards (a world record)! That’s fifty-four separate packs of playing cards — shuffled and viewed only once: absolutely astonishing. Perhaps just as astonishing is the fact that any person of near-average mental capacity can learn a mnemonic system and work apparent wonders, too.

At the root of the Dominic system lurks a steep learning curve, and getting over this hump requires a healthy serving of dedication, time, and effort (which is one reason I kept searching for a simpler and easier mnemonic memory technique to learn). A student of the Dominic system must compile and completely memorize 100 sets of initials (each representing the first and last name of a person) along with a specific action associated with each person. For example, the first set of initials is OO: the alphabetic representation of zero (0). The most commonly used characters with the initials OO (at least, that I have found) are Olive Oyle and Ozzy Osbourne. I decided to use the easy-to-remember mental image (which is the key to it all, really) of Ozzy biting the head off of a live bat — one of Ozzy’s better-known feats; after all, the more outrageous, humorous, unusual, frightening, or even vulgar and obscene the image is, the easier it is for our minds to remember that image.

It is quite possible to find all the names needed for your Dominic list through repeated Internet searches using your favorite search engine (for me, it’s Google). When searching for initials, most of the search results will point you to wikis (Wikipedia, WikiHow), comprehensive sites like or eHow, and popular Q&A sites (, Yahoo Answers) where other people – probably in the process of creating their own initial Dominic lists – have asked for assistance. There is also some software to assist in learning the Dominic and major systems, but I have not yet looked into that.

As I am in the process of creating my initial list for the Dominic technique, I thought I would share some of the better resources found during recent and prolific Googling on the matter. I hope this list ends up saving someone else a little time and/or effort. (I might even post my initials list when completed; I’ll decide that later.)

If you share this interest, are experienced in using the Dominic method, or know of some good online resources to help build the initial list, I’d love to hear from you — please leave a comment (not too obvious in this WordPress theme; just click on the small “Leave a comment” link at the very end of this post, near the tags).

NOTE: Deciding on a specific technique is probably one of the harder parts of the entire process; there are several factors to consider. One relatively new approach calls for learning not just a person plus an action (an object and a verb), but rather an object, verb, and adjective. A similar system requires the memorization of a person, an action, and an object associated with that person (Adolph Hitler, doing the heil Hitler salute with his arm, and his mustache, for instance).

Good luck!

Resources – Creating the List of 100 Names for the Dominic Mnemonic System

Resources – Dominic System

Resources – Mnemonic Memory Techniques, General

Resources – Other


About Stephen Frasier

Freethinking hiker, web content writer, web developer
This entry was posted in Memory Skills and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dominic Mnemonic Memory System: Building Your Initial List

  1. clarkrooney says:

    This post is a bulls-eye for me because I am trying to learn about blogging by chronicling my own trials and tribulations with the Dominic memory system. Sifting through the web to develop a list of 100 people was indeed difficult, and because part of my blog is a live and growing list that I hope will someday help others, the resources that you cited above are going to really come in handy. I’ll be pouring through them tonight…

  2. steve c says:

    Hi, just thought I would leave a comment to say that I have just started to learn the domonic method today and will repost again in a couple of months to let you know how I get on.


    • SF says:

      Hey Steve, I hope you do a better job of sticking to it than I did. I got into other things and let my practice slip, but I still have my index/flash cards for such time as I am ready to pick it up again. Let me know how it goes!

      • steve c says:

        Hi thanks for the reply. I am still learning the system slowly but have not reached the stage where I see the person when confronted with the number, I still have to rely on the initials to trigger the person but I’m getting quicker. I am using the journey method to remember facts on history and geography and must say that I find the system remarkable for learning these facts.
        Today I have just started to learn how to memories a pack of cards, I did not do to good but I will update on my progress.
        I have never been very good at visualising anything, I struggle to ‘see’ anything even when I close my eyes. When I do these methods I kind of ‘sense’ the people and actions on the journey, I cannot ever get a clear picture. I do hope that this does not hinder my progress and reach a limit in improving my memory. I wonder if there are other people out there who cannot visualise but have been successful?


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