Definition of memoir in English:



  • 1A historical account or biography written from personal knowledge.

    ‘in 1924 she published a short memoir of her husband’
    • ‘Aging veterans are now adding their memoirs and personal accounts to the body of literature written in the first three decades after World War II.’
    • ‘But you know, I just am not the type of person who is comfortable with writing a memoir centered, as memoirs are, on the self.’
    • ‘Most of these sources were narrative documents: chronicle accounts, memoirs, government records, past histories.’
    • ‘Kennan wrote a memoir that had enough literary merit to be turned into a play.’
    • ‘The biography also includes the memoirs of people she taught dance to in the 1960s, but does not mention anything about the circumstances of her death.’
    • ‘Tolstoy set out to write a personal memoir of O'Brian, but it turned into a full biography.’
    • ‘Then again, I write mainly fiction, I'm not writing memoirs.’
    • ‘He moved to Boston as a young man, where his early career is traced in a memoir written shortly after his death.’
    • ‘Written as the memoirs of 75-year-old Dora Chance, Carter's novel spans the century.’
    • ‘On the insistence of past pupils and their parents, Joan and Joscelyne wrote a short memoir of their life's work.’
    • ‘Someone who writes a literary memoir, for example, is by necessity examining issues of self and identity.’
    • ‘Jeremy Lewis, who has worked extensively in publishing and has chronicled the memoirs of other significant publishers, becomes the ideal biographer to evoke the life of a publisher.’
    • ‘The treatment of the division's wartime service is conventional, being drawn from official sources, unit histories and personal memoirs.’
    • ‘Christopher Isherwood's memoirs and autobiographical fiction always encouraged readers to believe he had told the whole truth about his life.’
    • ‘I am planning to write a memoir of Dr Browne's life and so I ask readers for any personal memories of Martin's work.’
    • ‘I've visited the U.K. more than a few times, and read many British novels, memoirs, biographies, histories and news articles.’
    • ‘Livermore did not reveal the reasons she took these positions in either of the two lengthy personal memoirs she wrote in the late nineteenth century.’
    • ‘If readers can overlook Kung's personal foibles, the memoirs tell an absorbing story, most especially when the author himself is not the focus.’
    • ‘She wrote several biographical memoirs that portray her exceptional sense of history.’
    • ‘She also wrote an affectionate memoir of her work with Strauss.’
    account, historical account, history, record, chronicle, annal, annals, commentary, narrative, story, report, portrayal, depiction, sketch, portrait, life, life story, profile, biography
    autobiography, life story, life, memories, recollections, personal recollections, reminiscences, experiences, journal, diary, log, weblog, blog, vlog, moblog
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1memoirs An account written by a public figure of their life and experiences.
      ‘a revealing passage from Khrushchev's memoirs’
      • ‘To define his importance, Da Ponte began to issue his memoirs in installments.’
      • ‘The memoirs of public figures are almost always interesting.’
      • ‘As a rule, memoirs written by political figures do not remain memorable since the details supplied in them must have been widely publicised by the media long before they got into the book.’
      • ‘He used his memoirs, public speeches, and letters to glorify Lee, southern soldiers, and the Confederate cause.’
      • ‘So when such a towering figure has his memoirs published, it is a landmark event.’
  • 2An essay on a learned subject.

    ‘an important memoir on Carboniferous crustacea’
    • ‘In 1943 Douglas was awarded the Bôcher Prize by the American Mathematical Society for his memoirs on the Plateau Problem.’
    1. 2.1memoirs The proceedings of a learned society.
      ‘Memoirs of the Royal Society’
      • ‘Memoirs and Proceedings, Chemical Society, London Volumes 2 and 3 were published between 1843 - 1848.’


Late 15th century (denoting a memorandum or record): from French mémoire (masculine), a special use of mémoire (feminine) ‘memory’.