List of mnemonics for the cranial nerves

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Cranial nerves
CN 0 – Terminal
CN I – Olfactory
CN II – Optic
CN III – Oculomotor
CN IV – Trochlear
CN V – Trigeminal
CN VI – Abducens
CN VII – Facial
CN VIII – Vestibulocochlear
CN IX – Glossopharyngeal
CN X – Vagus
CN XI – Accessory
CN XII – Hypoglossal

As one author has noted, "Generations of biology and medical students have relied on mnemonic (memory-aiding) phrases and ditties, ranging from sublimely silly to the unprintably ribald, to help them remember the cranial nerves..."[1]

The cranial nerves are:

"Clean" Mnemonics for the nerves[edit]

"Dirty" Mnemonics for the nerves[edit]

Once One Offers Tequila To A Few Vulptuous Girls, Virginities Are History

Oh Oh Oh To Touch And Feel Vaginas Gives Vinny A Hardon There is another mnemonic that gives the second letter of each word. It can be utilized after writing the first letter of each word with any of the above mnemonics.

Utilizing this mnemonic in conjunction with any of the above will result in:

Ol, Op, Oc, Tr, Tr, Ab, Fa, Ve, Gl, Va, Ac, Hy

Mnemonics for the type of nerve[edit]

Mnemonics for the type of nerve or its function rely upon the letters S, M and B for sensory, motor or both. The mnemonics to remember the types of cranial nerves can be chosen from:
S = Sensory
M = Motor
B = Both (sensory + motor)

A common mnemonic for the functions of the first through twelfth nerves, is "Some Say Marry Money, But My Brother Says Big Business Makes Money." [3]

Another common variation of this is "Some Say Marry Money, But My Brother Says Big Brains Matter Most," which appears to be a bowdlerized version of the common "Some Say Marry Money, But My Brother Says Big Breasts Matter Most." "Some Say Marry Money But My Brother Says Bad Business Marrying Money

Or to include the three Trigeminal branches: Some say money matters, some say brains, my brother says big breasts matter most.

Mnemonics for the foramina[edit]

To remember the skull foramina (plural of foramen) from which exit the 12 cranial nerves, the following statements may be used:

  1. Cleaners Only Spray Smelly Stuff Right On Smelly Idiots In J. Jonah Jameson High
  2. Carl Only Swims South. Silly Roger Only Swims In (Stylish) Infiniti Jacuzzis. Jane Just Hitchhikes.
  3. Carlos Only Swims South Side. Roger Only Swims In Sweeden. Igor Jogs. Jane Just Hikes.
  4. Carlos Only Smokes Spliff Since Rastaman Offered Skunk In Indigenous Jamaica. Jamaican Joint Heaven.
  5. Come Over Soon Soon Soon Ride On Some Intense Internal vaJJJ Ha!
  6. Crying Over Super Sexy Swimwear Really Only Supports Style In Junior Justice Jail Houses.
  7. Climb OSea Snails SROSI IJolly Jolly Jolly Happy
  8. Can Obama Spray Super Soakers Right On Senators? Is It Juvenile? Just Joking, However.

Mnemonics for Function[edit]

You have one nose, so the olfactory nerve is CN I, and it controls the sense of smell and innervates the nose.

You have two eyes, so the optic nerve is CN II, which functions to produce vision.

You have six abs, so the abducens nerve is CN VI, which abducts the eye.

CN VII: A mnemonic for the names of the five branches of the Facial nerve is To Zanzibar By Motor Car, where the five branches are the Temporal, Zygomatic, Buccal, Mandibular and Cervical branches. OR: Tell Ziggy Bob Marley Called. OR: Tempermental Zebras Brutalize My Cervix or Ten Zebras Buggered My Cat. OR Two Zebras Bit My Cousin.[5] OR Two Zombies Bit Miley Cyrus.

The number 8 resembles an ear, so CN VIII, the vestibulocochlear/acoustic nerve is a sensory nerve for hearing.

The number 11 can resemble a pair of arms or shoulders, and CN XI innervates the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles and controls shoulder and neck movements.

The saying The tongue licks the wound is a reminder that when the hypoglossal nerve (CNXII) is damaged, the tongue deviates to the same side of a lesion to the cranial nerve. (eg, if the tongue deviates to the right, the right side of CNXII is damaged).


  1. ^ Saladin, Kenneth (2007). Human Anatomy. Rex Bookstore. p. 440. 
  2. ^ Thibodeau, Gary (2007). Anatomy & Physiology. St. Louis MO: Mosby / Elsevier. ISBN 9780323037181. 
  3. ^ a b Rosdah, Caroline; Kowalski, Mary (2007). Textbook of Basic Nursing. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 194. 
  4. ^ Henderson, Beverley; Dorsey, Jennifer (2008). Medical Terminology for Dummies. For Dummies. 
  5. ^ Michael Carry, Ph.D, University of Colorado, Cell and Developmental Biology