Can a person with great memory power be called intelligent? Or is there any other word or phrase to describe such a person?

4 Answers 4


Although I would have to agree with both snailboat and hjpotter92's choice of eidetic and mnemonist as words meaning "someone who is very good at remembering", it really isn't particularly idiomatic. Most native speakers would say:

John has a photographic memory.

Rather than

John is eidetic.

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Jill has a good memory

Rather than

Jill is a mnemonist.

In general, as a native speaker I would prefer terms that are widely understood and in common usage rather than ones which are concise, so unless you have particularly good reason to expect the person you're talking to to know the term eidetic, I'd probably just stick with something similar to the following:

Jane has amazing memory prowess.

John's memory is fantastic.

Bill has a surprisingly good memory.

  • 3
    I agree with this answer. Every once in a while, there is a word that describes someone or something, but you're usually much better off eschewing that word and going with a more common phrase instead. Another good example is philatelist; I'd say that 95% of the time, we'd be better off using stamp collector instead.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 9:12
  • @J.R. agreed. Outside of the phrase "Who needs a hobby like..." philately and all other words sharing the same root should be dumped into a memory hole. Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 12:42
  • @Dan: "philately" will get you nowhere. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 17:35

No. Intelligence is a term used for one or more of the following cases:

  1. The ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience
  2. Possessing sound knowledge
  3. The capacity to reason

People with good memory, on the other hand, are referred to as eidetic. Eidetic memory or photographic memory would be the correct term.


The word you want is memorious. It's most famously used in the title of Borges's short story Funes the Memorious, which is about a man who remembers everything. Literally.

  • I think I'd be using memorious to refer to some easy to remember event. Somewhat similar to memorable.
    – hjpotter92
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 14:44
  • 1
    @hjpotter92: Why wouldn't you use memorable instead?
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 21:24
  • 2
    I'm not sure it's "the word you want." Sure, it's an apt word, at least according to this dictionary; but it's also a rather rare word, so much so that many dictionaries don't even list it. I'd be inclined to call this "a word you might consider," as opposed to "the word you want."
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 1:36

Eidetic memory is a specific phenomenon - an image which persists only for a few minutes - which is extremely rare in adults.

Photographic memory probably doesn't occur at all, as an ability to remember any image ever seen.

People whose memories are commonly referred to as 'eidetic' or 'photographic' do usually just have good memories (and/or they're using specific memory techniques).

Full recall of every event that's ever happened to an individual (autobiographical memory) is 'hyperthymesia' or 'hyperthymestic syndrome' and has only been very recently confirmed to exist.




"The Woman Who Could Not Forget" (TV)

"The Woman Who Can't Forget" (book)

I'd stick with "X has a good memory". :)

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