Major System – Creating Peg Words using the Major System and memorising numbers

Lesson Objective: To be able to remember numbers using the Major System.

The Major System provides a great way to memorise numbers. It is used to create peg words in a different way than in lesson 1. For those who haven’t read lesson 1, peg words are words used to replace numbers so that they can be used to act as a conceptual hook. Onto these hooks, we can hang, or attach items of a list. With some practise, this approach will make memorising lists a piece of cake. If you are confused at this point, do not despair, just read on. Note that Lesson 1 is a handy introduction to this lesson, and it is recommended reading.

The Major System basically uses the sounds of the alphabet for each digit. When you substitute the digits with the sounds you can then create a peg word. For example, by substituting the digit 1 with a ‘d’, and the digit 7 with a ‘k’, you would have a ‘d’ and a ‘k’ to represent the number 17. We don’t stop here. Realising that there are only 10 different digits that we are interested in, i.e. 0 – 9, and that there are 26 letters in the alphabet, the creators of the Major System left some spare letters for us to use when we create peg words! The spare letters are all the vowels ‘a’,’e’,’i’,’o’,’u’, and ‘h’,’w’,’y’. With this in mind you could make up the word “duck”, by selecting some of the spare characters to insert before, between, or after the substitute letter(s) for the digits ‘1’ and ‘7’. Your peg word for number 17 becomes the word “duck”. Note that ‘ck’ makes the same sound as a ‘k’ when it is spoken.

Below is a breakdown of the numbers and their corresponding sounds.


0 = S or Z, soft C (e.g. Ceiling)
1 = T or D
2 = N
3 = M
4 = R
5 = L
6 = J, SH, CH, soft G (e.g. Germany) DG (e.g. Nudge)
7 = K, hard C (e.g. Cat), hard G (e.g. Goat), hard CH (e.g. Chorus) QU (e.g. Grotesque)
8 = V or F
9 = B or P


Using the information above, try and make 100 peg words i.e. from 0 – 99. Once you engrave these peg words into your head, you will be armed with a powerful memorisation tool! For example, as a peg word for the number 1 you can have; Tea, Toe, Hat, At. Number 2 can be; Noah, In, and One. Use the above table as a guide to help you start off. Play around with different combinations of numbers and see if you can make up words from them. Below is a table of 100 peg words we have come up with. Check how these words correspond with the above numbers. You are welcome to use the table below or make up your own 100 peg words. We can begin with the peg word SAW for 0


1 = HAT 21 = WAND 41 = RAT 61 = CHAT 81 = FAT
2 = HEN 22 = NUN 42 = ARNIE 62 = CHAIN 82 = VAN
3 = HAM 23 = GNOME 43 = ARM 63 = CHIME 83 = FAME
4 = HAIR 24= NERO 44 = ROAR 64 = CHAIR 84 = FUR
5 = HAIL 25 = NAIL 45 = RAIL 65 = JELLY 85 = VEAL
6 = HASH 26 = NUDGE 46 = RASH 66 = CHA-CHA 86 = FISH
7 = HACK 27= NIKE 47 = ROCK 67 = CHOC 87 = FOG
8 = HOOF 28 = KNIFE 48 = REEF 68 = CHEF 88 = FIFE
9 = HOOP 29 = NAPPY 49 = RUBY 69 = SHIP 89 = FAB
10 = DOZE 30= MOUSE 50 = LOOSE 70 = AGASSI 90 = BASS
11 = DOT 31 = MAD 51 = WALLET 71 = CAT 91 = BAT
12 = DINE 32 = MONEY 52 = ALIEN 72 = GUN 92 = PEN
13 = DOME 33 = MA’AM 53 = LIMO 73 = COMB 93 = BAM
14 = DOOR 34 = HOMER 54 = LAWYER 74 = CAR 94 = PEAR
15 = DALE 35 = MAIL 55 = LILY 75 = GLUE 95 = PALE
16 = DJ 36 = MJ 56 = LEECH 76 = COUCH 96 = PEACH
17 = DUCK 37 = MACCAS 57 = LEG 77 = CAKE 97 = BIKE
18 = DAFFY 38= MAFIA 58 = LOVE 78 = COFFEE 98 = BEEF
19 = TAPE 39 = MAP 59 = ELBOW 79 = CAB 99 = BABE
20 = NOSE 40 = ROSE 60 = CHEESE 80 = VASE 100 = DAISIES


So how would you memorise the number 714277 ?. To remember this you could pair up the digits to get; 71 42 77. Once you have that all you have to do is remember what your peg word for those numbers were and make up a creative little story. For example: 71 = CAT, 42 = ARNIE (Which is short for Arnold Schwarzenegger for me), and 77 = CAKE. So the story can be something like: The CAT jumps into ARNIE’s birthday CAKE as he is about to blow the candles creating a huge mess. This story is much more memorable than a simple 714277 isnt it? We have now associated images and incorporated our senses to make a number a memorable thing!

Once you have the idea of pairing up the numbers you can also try making up peg words 3 digits at a time. If we apply the same example as above we’ll have something like:

714 277 (Broken into 3 digits each). 714 could = GATOR, 214 = ENTER. The AlliGATOR sprung out of the lake and started to fly towards the do not ENTER sign eating and ripping the rust tasting sign into shreds. Since when did alligator’s fly? In your mind, anything can fly. Use your imagination to make really wild and wacky stories. It doesn’t even have to make sense as long as you link the peg words together and have an understanding of the story. Use of humour and each of your senses makes the memorisation even stronger and help to recall quicker.

The method just mentioned works well when trying to memorise short numbers, lets say 10-20 digit numbers. After that people commonly have a problem trying to remember the order in which they memorised the pairs of numbers. One way to beat this problem is to use a journey (see Lesson 2). Since your journey is ordered, you can simply associate each pair or triplet of digits to a stop in your journey. For example, using the number 873874012293, and the journey from Lesson 2, we would begin by pairing up the numbers. Using the mentioned number this yields 87, 38, 74, 01, 22, and 93.

Hence, the journey begins in the living room where all the furniture is made out of FOG! People try to sit on the couches but helplessly fall onto the ground instead! So, they change their minds and walk over to the kitchen and are greeted my friendly men from the MAFIA wearing white aprons over their classy black suits while they cook up delicious meals for the people with sore backsides. After eating, the MAFIA men run into a bedroom where they have parked their CAR, they get in and drive away. Imagine a CAR in a bedroom, parked next to a messy bed… Finish off the journey and you will find that long digits are actually hard to forget! Techniques such as this one have been used in World Memory Championships and outstanding results have been obtained. People have memorised hundreds, even thousands of digits in a matter of minutes using this technique.


Exercise: Take some time to memorise and familiarise yourself with the above peg words or make up your own. You can start by memorising 10 at a time at your own pace. You can also test yourself using the memory gym. Make a note of your peg words on paper and test yourself. For starters I recommend going through the numbers at a slow rate so you have enough time to recall the peg word.

Note: Your peg words must be concreted into your memory! You must know them better than your own name!

Lesson 4

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