What Do You Call A Word That When You Spell Backwards Means Something Else?


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Lynn Blakeman Profile
Lynn Blakeman answered

The usual term given to a word which, when spelled backwards, has a different meaning is "semordnilap" (palindromes backwards).

They are also sometimes referred to as Semi-palindromes or half-palindromes, and a form of anagram.

Examples of semordnilap are:

  •   Desserts / Stressed
  •   Stink / Knits
  •   Evil / Live
  •   Regal / Lager
  •   Raw / War
  •   Smart / Trams
  •   Devil / Lived
  •   God / Dog
  •   Straw / Warts
  •   Time / Emit

Interestingly, some semordnilaps are purpose made. The term 'yob' was supposedly made as a semordnilap of 'boy' - very apt :-)

Palindrome is the term given to words or phrases which read the same forwards or backwards for example:

  •   Noon
  •   Navy Van
  •   Amore Roma
  •   No 'x' in Nixon
  •   As I pee sir, I see Pisa

The longest single word palindrome in English is Redivider.  However, in Finnish there is a 25 letter Palindrome which is SAIPPUAKUPPINIPPUKAUPPIAS and apparently means 'soap cup trader'

Is it just me or was something lost in translation there? Lol

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