It is a word that forms another word when read in reverse. It’s like a palindrome, but with a different word instead of the same word.
Semordinlap itself is a semordinlap of the word palindromes.
Palindromes are words that are spelled the same backwards and forwards. Examples include level, kayak, and racecar.
A semordnilap or emordinlap is a word that can also be read backwards. but the backwards spelling forms an entirely different word.
A word, phrase, or sentence that has the property of forming another word, phrase, or sentence when its letters are reversed. A semordnilap differs from a palindrome in that the word or phrase resulting from the reversal is different from the original word or phrase.
You’ll notice that the definition above is not from the Oxford or Webster dictionary, or from another more official source. This is because the word is not yet recognized by those traditional dictionaries.
Who coined the word?
As for the term “semordnilap,” which is beginning to win out as a name for the concept, it first appeared in C.C. Bombaugh’s 1961 Oddities and Curiosities of Words and Literature. The originator of the term does not appear to be, however, Dr. Bombaugh, but rather the editor and annotator of the book, Martin Gardner, who included “semordnilap” in one of his annotations. The word is self-referencing in that it demonstrates the concept for which it describes- semordnilap is palindromes spelled backwards.
How about some examples
Just for fun, rather than listing the examples, I’ll share some examples of these words put into the same sentence.
- My waistband was stressed when I ate all of the desserts.
- I didn’t get repaid when I tried to return the used diapers.
- The longer I live the more evil I become.
- The edam cheese made the lactose-intolerance boy fart.
- The overtired cook would like to sleep, but peels potatoes instead.
- The factory had to retool when the looter stole the machines.
- The boy that looted the machines was a real yob.
- The foreman was mad when the dam broke and flooded the factory.
- The gateman threw away his nametag when his workplace was destroyed.
- When the factory couldn’t deliver the product the company was reviled by its formerly-loyal customers.
I’ll stop now or this story will go on forever.