Fun Word Activities

Anagrams

Two phrases are anagrams if they have the same letters, but in a different order.

Here are some good anagrams:

  • A Ballet Dancer: Alert, Balanced
  • A Decimal Point: I'm a Dot in Place
  • Alec Guinness: Genuine Class
  • Animosity: Is No Amity
  • Bottoms Up: Pubs' Motto
  • Contradiction: Accord not in it
  • Dormitory: Dirty Room
  • Eleven plus two: Twelve plus one
  • Listen: Silent
  • Semolina: Is No Meal
  • Slot Machines: Cash Lost in 'em
  • Snooze Alarms: Alas! No More Z's
  • The Earthquakes: That Queer Shake
  • The Morse Code: Here Come Dots
  • The Public Art Galleries: Large Picture Halls, I Bet

There are a lot of anagram sites on the web, such as www.anagramgenius.com.

 

Palindromes

A palindrome is a word or sentence which is spelled the same backwards and forwards.

Here are some good palindromes:

  • A man, a plan, a canal — Panama! (One could reply, "No, it's a banana bastion.")
  • A man, a plan, a cat, a canal — Panama!
  • A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal — Panama!
  • Able was I ere I saw Elba. (Napolean could have said this when he was exiled to the island of Elba, if he spoke English.)
  • Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
  • Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.
  • Doc, note, I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.
  • Dog, as a devil deified, lived as a god.
  • Dogma? I am God.
  • Drab as a fool, aloof as a bard.
  • Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog.
  • Ma is as selfless as I am.
  • Madam, I'm Adam. (Eve replied simply, "Eve.")
  • Madam, in Eden, I'm Adam.
  • No sir, prefer prison.
  • Pa's a sap.
  • Niagara, O roar again.
  • Senile felines
  • Sniff'um muffins.
  • Ten animals I slam in a net.
  • Straw? No, too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts.
  • Was it a cat I saw?
  • Yreka Bakery (in Yreka, California)

Finnish has the longest palindromic words. Here are several (the longer ones are more contrived).

  • saippuakauppias (15 letters), soap dealer
  • saippurakaruppias (17 letters), soap salesman
  • saippuakivikauppias (19 letters), lye dealer
  • saippuakuppinippukauppias (25 letters), soap cup dealer

The longest common English palindromic word is "redivider" (9 letters). The contrived chemical term "detartrated" has 11 letters.

"Kinnikinnick," the name of a plant and also a dried leaf and bark mixture smoked by Cree indians, is not a palindrome, but it is sometimes (mis)spelled as a palindrome in two different ways: "kinnikinnik" (11 letters) and "kinnik-kinnik" (12 letters). Each half of the last palindrome is itself a palindrome.

The shortest English palindromic word, not counting one-letter words, is "aa," which is a Hawaiian word for a kind of lava.

English needs a synonym for "palindrome" that is itself a palindrome. The word should have meaningful roots, like the word "palindrome", which derives from Greek palin, again + Greek dromos, racecourse or running. Here are some candidate palindromic synonyms for palidrome.

  • retreverter — From "retreat" (from Old French retrere from Latin retrahere), to draw back + Latin vertere , to turn. (From Seth Hoyt.) This is almost perfect. The roots are meaningful. Both roots are Latin. The only drawback is that "retre-" is not as familiar as "retro-".
  • retrovorter — From "retro-", backwards + "vortex" (variant of "vertex", from Latin vertere, turn), turning column. (From Seth Hoyt.) It begins nicely with "retro-", but "vorter" is a stretch.
  • palinilap — From Greek palin, again + English "lap", a racecourse lap or a fold. It has fairly meaningful roots. It is a natural modification of the familiar word "palindrome". A brief web search indicates that this may be the most popular candidate.
  • emordrome — From Greek dromos, racecourse or running. But emor has no appropriate meaning. (Greek emor may mean "without a share".)
  • rotor or rotator — From Latin rota, wheel. A rotation of 180 degrees is kind of like a reversal, but not really.
  • mynonym — It sounds like it could be synonym for palindrome. From Greek onyma name. But myn has no appropriate meaning. (Greek myn may mean an excuse, pretense, or diversion.)
  • reversrever — From Latin re, back + vertere, turn. But this word is too contrived.
  • wordrow — From "word" + "row". But it contains no part that means reversal.

If you can think of a better word, please send me a note.

Pangrams

A pangram is a sentence which uses all 26 letters. A minimal pangram uses each letter only once. The following minimal pangram describes the situation in which a wryneck woodpecker from the grasslands of Africa climbed up the side of a male bovid which is grazing on sacred Muslim-owned land:

Veldt jynx grimps waqf zho buck.

Source: Michael Jones of Chicago, in the Guinness Book.

Repeated Words

Can you correctly punctuate the following, which has 12 "hads" in a row?

Ann where Bob had had had had had had had had had had had had written next to it as a correction.

Answer:

Ann, where Bob had had "had," had had "had had." "Had had" had had "had" written next to it as a correction.

(Ann and Bob were taking a grammar exam.)

The following sentence has 21 "ands" in a row:

Wouldn't the sentence "I want to put a hyphen between the words FISH and AND and AND and CHIPS in my FISH-AND-CHIPS sign" have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before "FISH," and between "FISH" and "and," and "and" and "AND," and "AND" and "and," and "and" and "AND," and "AND" and "and," and "and" and "CHIPS," as well as after "CHIPS?"

 

Contractions

How many words can be contracted into a single word using apostrophes? Is "I'dn't've" a legal word? It means "I would not have," as in "I'dn't've done that if I were you."


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