Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Oct 16, 2000
This week's theme
Semordnilaps, or words that spell other words when reversed

This week's words

Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
with Anu Garg

A popular motivational saying goes, "Desserts is stressed spelled backwards." This is an example of a reversible word, which when read from the right yields another word. All of this week's words exhibit this quality. Just like reversible clothing that changes pattern when worn inside out, reversible words result in other usable words. A special case of reversible words is palindromes, which spell the same when reversed. So palindromes are a subset of reversible words which in turn are a subset of anagrams. Another name for reversible words is semordnilap, a self-referential word coined by reversing the word palindromes.

Some words coined in this manner have actually entered the dictionary. Here are two examples: YOB (a rowdy youth), coined by reversing BOY, and MHO (former unit of conductance), coined by reversing OHM, the unit of electrical resistance.

Taking inspiration from the above desserts/stressed saying, can you coin a pithy aphorism using some word and its semordnilap? Don your wordsmith hats and send your gems to (words AT wordsmith.org). Original entries only, please. I'll publish selected ones here in a compilation next week. Here is a helpful hint: you can elicit semordnilapic quality in many words by forming their plural, past tense, etc. Also, semordnilaps are especially useful in creating longer palindromic words. Here is a simple example, "Devil Dennis sinned, lived." Can you come up with something more interesting? Email them to the above address.


Pronunciation RealAudio

1. Having an ardent desire or unbounded craving; greedy.

2. Marked by keen interest and enthusiasm.

[Latin avidus, from avere, to desire.]

"Global Exchange, for instance, is an outfit of 40 people based in San Francisco, and an avid believer in street protest."
Angry and effective, Economist, Sep 23, 2000.


All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. -Ellen Glasgow, novelist (1874-1945)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2023 Wordsmith