"a written note of something to be remembered; a record of something for future reference or consideration," by 1889, shortening of memorandum (q.v.).
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to remember."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit smarati "remembers;" Avestan mimara "mindful;" Greek merimna "care, thought," mermeros "causing anxiety, mischievous, baneful;" Latin memoria "memory, remembrance, faculty of remembering," memor "mindful, remembering;" Serbo-Croatian mariti "to care for;" Welsh marth "sadness, anxiety;" Old Norse Mimir, name of the giant who guards the Well of Wisdom; Old English gemimor "known," murnan "to mourn, remember sorrowfully;" Dutch mijmeren "to ponder."
also gobbledegook, "the overinvolved, pompous talk of officialdom" [Klein], 1944, American English, first used by Texas politician Maury Maverick (1895-1954), a grandson of the inspiration for maverick and chairman of U.S. Smaller War Plants Corporation during World War II, in a memo dated March 30, 1944, banning "gobbledygook language" and mock-threateaning, "anyone using the words activation or implementation will be shot." Maverick said he made up the word in imitation of turkey noise. Another word for it, coined about the same time, was bafflegab (1952).
late 13c., "recollection (of someone or something); remembrance, awareness or consciousness (of someone or something)," also "fame, renown, reputation;" from Anglo-French memorie (Old French memoire, 11c., "mind, memory, remembrance; memorial, record") and directly from Latin memoria "memory, remembrance, faculty of remembering," abstract noun from memor "mindful, remembering," from PIE root *(s)mer- (1) "to remember."
Sense of "commemoration" (of someone or something) is from c. 1300. Meaning "faculty of remembering; the mental capacity of retaining unconscious traces of conscious impressions or states, and of recalling these to consciousness in relation to the past," is late 14c. in English. Meaning "length of time included in the consciousness or observation of an individual" is from 1520s.
I am grown old and my memory is not as active as it used to be. When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it. ["Mark Twain," "Autobiography"]
Meaning "that which is remembered; anything fixed in or recalled to the mind" is by 1817, though the correctness of this use was disputed in 19c. The word was extended, with more or less of figurativeness, in 19c. to analogous physical processes. Computer sense, "device which stores information," is from 1946. Related: Memories.
1823 "act or fact of memorializing;" 1857 as "action of committing to memory;" noun of action from memorize (v.).
late 14c., "fame, renown, reputation," also "a commemorative gesture, monument, or rite;" in general, "something by which the memory of a person, thing, or event is preserved," from Old French memorial "record, report," and directly from Late Latin memoriale "a memorial," noun use of neuter of Latin memorialis (adj.) "of or belonging to memory," from memoria "memory" (from PIE root *(s)mer- (1) "to remember").
Meaning "memorial act, commemorative gesture, monument, etc.," is from late 14c., as is the sense of "a written representation of facts made to a legislative or other body as the grounds for a petition." Related: Memorialist.
The old Man said, “I see around me here
Things which you cannot see: we die, my Friend,
Nor we alone, but that which each man loved
And prized in his peculiar nook of earth
Dies with him or is changed, and very soon
Even of the good is no memorial left.
[Wordsworth, "The Ruined Cottage"]
"personal record of events, narrative of the facts or events of the life of a person or a phase of history written from personal knowledge or observation upon points about which the writer is specially informed," 1650s, plural of memoir.
1590s, "having a good memory," from French memorieux or directly from Medieval Latin memoriosus, from Latin memoria (from PIE root *(s)mer- (1) "to remember"). By 1856 (Sir Richard F. Burton, with whom it seems to have been a pet word) as "worthy to be remembered."
early 15c., "written record," from Anglo-French memorie "note, memorandum, something written to be kept in mind" (early 15c., Old French memoire), from Latin memoria (from PIE root *(s)mer- (1) "to remember"). The more specific sense of "a notice or essay relating to something within the writer's own memory or knowledge" is from 17c. Meaning "person's written account of his or her life" is from 1670s. Related: Memoirist.
Biography, Memoir. When there is a difference between these words, it may be that memoir indicates a less complete or minute account of a person's life, or it may be that the person himself records his own recollections of the past, especially as connected with his own life; in the latter case memoir should be in the plural. [Century Dictionary]