Word of the Day


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something that you buy during a holiday or at a special event to remind you later of being there

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun souvenir comes from the French word ‘souvenir’ meaning an act of remembering or something that serves as a reminder. It comes from the verb ‘souvenir’, meaning to recall or have in your memory. The word was first used in English in the late 1700s meaning both a thing that is remembered and something given as a reminder.


Most people who visit a remarkable place are content with a small souvenir purchased in a gift shop, or just the photos on their phone. A British engineer who worked on a major restoration project on the stones at Stonehenge in 1958 took a rather larger reminder of his time there. Three cores one metre long and 25 mm in diameter were removed from one of the giant upright stones when metal rods were inserted in order to stabilize it, and when the project ended Robert Phillips took one of the cores with him as a souvenir. Having kept it proudly on display in his office in Hampshire for many years, Mr Phillips took the stone rod with him to the US when he emigrated there in 1976 and has kept it with him at various locations including Florida, where he now lives. Now 90, Mr Phillips wanted to return the stone rod to its rightful location and his sons have returned it to Stonehenge, to the delight of the monument’s curators who hope it can be analysed to help determine the origin of the stones. The location of the other two cores remains unknown.


“A house with two adults probably doesn’t need fifteen mismatched souvenir coffee cups.”
(Gretchen Rubin)

“Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear.”
(Roland Orzabal and Nicky Holland)

Related words

keepsake, memento, reminder

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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