Ask the Editor
Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
The Difference between Memoir and Autobiography
Monday July 13th 2020
What is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography? — Marcia J., United States

The words 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are both used to describe written accounts of a person's life that are written by the person themselves. Sometimes the words are used interchangeably to mean "a written history of a person's life." Sometimes 'memoir' is used to mean something different.

An autobiography is an account of a person's entire life, but a memoir usually is only about one part of a person's life. A memoir might be about a person's struggles with homelessness or addiction, or about their adventures traveling the world, or about their experience becoming an actor.

A narrative about a person's life from birth or early childhood is usually called an autobiography. A narrative about a specific period of a person's life or a specific experience is usually called a memoir.

I hope this helps.


Have you tried our kids' vocabulary app, Puku? It's a great study tool for ages 8-12!


For more posts about words, idioms, grammar, and usage, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Don't forget to subscribe to our Word of the Day e-mails!

Click here to try one of our vocabulary quizzes before you go!