memory like a sieve

memory like a sieve


  • poor memory
  • a very bad memory
  • refers to someone who forgets things a lot
  • everything drops through the memory as if it were filled with holes
  • difficulty remembering things
  • can’t retain information

Example sentences

  1. I’m so sorry I forgot your birthday – I’ve got a memory like a sieve!
  2. She will be hopeless as the hostess – she’s got a memory like a sieve!
  3. I know I was supposed to do all the updates, but to be honest, I have a memory like a sieve, and I forgot.
  4. I’m trying to learn new things, but I find it difficult because my memory is like a sieve.
  5. If my mind was not so much like a sieve, I might remember what I’m supposed to be doing.


The origin of the phrase is not known, or at least is not explained in the sources. However, the imagery of the sieve is clear – a sieve is for sifting flour, etc., has many holes, and allows substances to pass through. Very little is retained, except crumbs. This is what the imagery of the phrase means – very little is retained in the memory. The memory appears to have holes in it, through which thoughts fall.

Synonyms | Variants

  • mind like a sieve
  • brain like a sieve

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M 1 Comment

1 Comment

AuthorTony Greene writes on 29th December 2017

Very well explained, easy to understand.

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