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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day - memento

October 07, 2012

Word of the Day

  • memento
  • audio pronunciation
  • \muh-MEN-toh\


: something that serves to warn or remind; also : souvenir

The attic is filled with mementos of Julie's basketball career—awards, newspaper clippings, team photographs, her old uniform.

"All season long Michel Hazanavicius and Bérénice Bejo, the husband-and-wife writer-director and star of 'The Artist,' have been recording their adventures on the awards circuit, whipping out their smartphone … at each ceremony and red carpet. It's a memento for their kids, to show what mom and dad have been up to for the last few months." —From an article by Melena Ryzik in the New York Times, February 23, 2012


"Memento" comes from the imperative form of "meminisse," a Latin verb that literally means "to remember." (The term "memento mori," meaning "a reminder of mortality," translates as "remember that you must die.") The history of "memento" makes it clear where its spelling came from, but because a memento often helps one remember a particular moment, people occasionally spell the term "momento." That second version is usually considered a misspelling, but it appears often enough in edited prose to have been considered acceptable for entry in Webster's Third New International Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.