What's It Mean? Well, semantic memory is subdivision of declarative memory that stores general knowledge, including the basic meanings of words and concepts. Most often not storing the time and location in which the information was obtained. Some people may confuse this with episodic memory, but the difference, as stated before, is that semantic memory deals with more structured details.

In Other Words


  • A portion of long term memory which is concerned with ideas and meanings which are not related to personal experiences.
  • Includes memory for language, facts, general knowledge, and concepts.
  • Like an encyclopedia or database for your mind.
  • Knowledge that you can access without knowing how you attained it.

How it looks in the real world


  • Jeopardy - contestants use their semantic memory to retrieve answers for the questions asked.
  • Knowing that grass is green.
  • Knowing what a whale is even though you've never been around one.
  • When someone asks you what 2+2 is and you instantly say four.
  • Knowing how to tie a shoe, but not remembering when and where you learned to do so.
  • Knowing the definition of a word on the ACT test but not remembering how you knew what it meant.
  • Knowing to wither press a button or flip a swich to turn something on.

Additional Resources


  1. Semantic and episodic memory
  2. Semantic memory in more detail
  3. More examples of semantic memory