What’s the new “politicly correct” resistor color code mnemonic?

This got me thinking.

When I was a lad, the mnemonic used to remember the resistor color code was “Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly.” I suspect that is no longer suitable to teach. So, what is the new one? Or, is there even a new mnemonic, since kids have mostly given up building things?

Lots of better options - https://www.allacronyms.com/BBROYGBVGW

Big Boys Race Our Young Girls But Violet Generally Wins seems the easiest.

Wikipedia has various options listed.


I went to a science/engineering high school in the 1980s, and this is what my sophomore electronics class teacher used:

Better Be Right Or Your Great Big Venture Goes West.

Bad beer rots our young guts but vodka goes well

Chanute AFB 1954

Jesus Christ. This was taught as the accepted mnemonic? When was this?

1976 or so, but maybe not “taught” so much as passed on as institutional knowledge…

First heard it in the 70s, was still being taught in the mid-80s.

Mid 1980s, the class instructor gave us Big Buicks Run On Yellow Gas but Volkswagons Go Without.

Then the (female) lab assistant said, “But this other one is the one you’ll probably remember.”

That’s my experience.

It’s been 30+ years since I last messed with discrete resistors and never did so professionally, but prior to this thread I have never heard of / read of any other mnemonic than "Bad Boys … ".

I’m not surprised that one has since been consigned to the tightly covered dustbin of history. I’m more surprised I haven’t bumped into a different one.

Huh. I never learned any of the mnemonics. I always thought it was pretty easy to memorize. It’s Black Brown, then the rainbow (minus indigo, which we usually skip when coloring a rainbow, anyway), then grey, white. It always seemed pretty intuitive to me.


I’ve always thought it was amusing that people would remember two things instead of just remembering the one thing they were trying to remember.

" … Behind Victory Garden Walls" is the way I learned it in the Navy.

In another thread about aviation I railed on against mnemonics much as Bo just did. And for the same reason.

As to resistors, I never recognized the fact the colors were in spectrum order; it always seemed to me they were simply random arbitrary. Now that I know that I can forget about “Bad Boys …” IMO understanding beats memorization every time.

But the fact remains that for some things which truly are random arbitrary, a word pattern that has some sort of internal logic as a story, even a highly contrived story, is better = more memorable than one that does not.

I taught the mnemonic but found that after a short while I sight read the colors.

Since this is a question of a sort which inherently has many answers, and which answer is “best” is subjective, let’s move it to IMHO.

[Not moderating]

I agree with those who say that no mnemonic is really necessary, since it’s basically the same order you’d use for a box of Crayolas. But if you’re going to use a mnemonic, one slight advantage of the one in the OP (which comes nowhere close to making up for its multiple serious problems) is that it disambiguates “black” and “brown”, the two Bs.

And it is still relevant. I’ve been doing Arduino projects with my students this semester, and which resister is which matters. I’ve only presented it as far as “the colored bands are a code for the resistance, so make sure you’re using one whose colors match those in the picture”, though.

October 1973 - I was new in the Navy, going thru Basic Electricity and Electronics training. We were taught the crude version, as well as “Bad boys race our young girls behind Victory Garden walls. Get started now.”

There was also a mnemonic for creating a chart of the characteristics of transistors. I still remember the nasty version and I can reproduce the chart, but for the life of me, I don’t remember anything beyond Base, Emitter, Collector.

I doubt they teach that these days. Heck, I wonder if they teach transistors at all…

Actually resistor stripe #1 is either black or brown so the first line of the mnemonic is not “bad” boys but “black” boys which makes it even worse but since it uses 2 colors (black and violet) it is the easiest to remember. I learned this in HS electronics in 1983.

Later on in college I took electronics and they presented the resistor colors and I asked the teacher how to remember those and he gave me an odd look and said there was a way but it wasnt very “nice” and wouldnt tell the class or even anyone in private.

Yes, this. Besides, you’re generally recognizing patterns, like red red or red violet or orange white (with the third band most often red, orange, or yellow). In this sense the color codes are more like words than they are like numbers.

Roman numerals as a number nomenclature have this advantage, too. There is a lot klunky about them, sure, but they tend to resist typos, because a random string of I, V, X, L, C and so forth won’t look right. When you are typing Arabic numerals, any old combination looks plausible. But Roman numerals, like English words, have a meaningful look such that random errors typically look wrong.