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Is there any difference between the meanings or connotations of 記憶 and 思い出?

I started thinking about this after listening to the song 「タイムマシーン」 or "Time Machine" by 少女時代, where these two lines occur near the end of the song:

儚【はかな】くて遠【とお】い記憶【きおく】になる前【まえ】に…

二人【ふたり】の思【おも】い出【で】を忘【わす】れてしまう前【まえ】に…

Is there any meaning behind using both of these instead of just being consistent and using one?

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To me 思い出 sounds more like recollections or reminiscence, 記憶 can mean something similar depending on the context though. –  Chocolate Mar 15 '12 at 7:33
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2 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted
  • 記憶 is a neutral term for memory. It can be of any while ago, from sub-mili-seconds or shorter to milleniums or longer. It can be used for physical effects like hysteresis effects or memory on an electronic device. It can be used for humans as well.

  • 思い出 is subjective. It implies nostalgia, good memories or bad memories. The past it is referring to is usually between a few days to a lifespan of time ago. The subject of it is usually humans.

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Only adding a small amount here, but analyzing the Kanji of those words using Unihan/CCDict:

記憶:

  • means "record" or "remember".
  • means "remember" or "memory".

思い出:

  • means "think" and is often used in a subjective way.
    (思い means "thought" among various other definitions.)
  • means "come out".

Looking at those, I think it's possible to see why they have those connotations.

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