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Completely; by memory. Often used in reference to something that one has memorized or knows very well. Ask Becky to recite the poem—she knows it by heart. I can't sing that song in front of an audience if I don't know the words by heart!
By memory, perhaps without true understanding of the topic. Ask Becky to recite the poem—she knows it by rote. Research shows that simply learning things by rote doesn't always translate into the best grasp of the material.
[of learning or memorizing] done as habit and without thinking. I simply memorized the speech by rote. I don't know what it means. The student learns everything by rote and doesn't really understand the concepts.
learn something by heart
Fig. to learn something so well that it can be written or recited without thinking; to memorize something. The director told me to learn my speech by heart. I had to go over it many times before I learned it by heart.
learn something by rote
Fig. to learn something by memorizing without giving any thought to what is being learned. I learned history by rote; then I couldn't pass the test that required me to think. If you learn things by rote, you'll never understand them.
exactly and from memory You know the telephone number by heart, don't you?
Usage notes: often used with know, learn, recite, and play: I studied piano for two years, and all I learned to play by heart was "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
automatically and without understanding The children had learned number facts by rote and could calculate quickly.
Also, by rote. From memory; also, mechanically. For example, Betty had trouble learning the song by heart, but her teacher insisted on it, or Japanese schools put heavy emphasis on learning by rote. These terms are often put as know by heart or learn by rote . The first term was already used by Chaucer (in Troilus and Cressida). The variant, also dating from the 1300s, often implies mere memorization without deeper understanding. Both phrases remain in use, although this form of learning is no longer so widespread as it once was. Also see commit to memory.
learn by heart
Also, learn by rote. See under by heart.
Learned by rote; memorized word for word.