Semordnilap: Definition, List of Examples, Fun Facts

A semordnilap is a word like pan that when spelled backward make a different word – in this case, nap.

On the other hand, words spelled backward that form the exact same word, e.g. level backward is level, are called palindromes. Semordnilap is a semordnilap of palindromes, which, if you think about it, makes sense.

History of the Word Semordnilap

The general concept of a semordnilap can be traced back to Lewis Carroll and his novel Sylvie and Bruno which was published in 1889. But, the first person to use the term, or least popularize it, was Dmitri Borgmann, the founder of Word Ways, a linguistical magazine.

It first appeared in written form in C.C. Bombaugh’s 1961 Oddities and Curiosities of Words and Literature. The editor, Martin Gardner, used the term semordnilap in an annotation.

semordnilap definition

Semordnilap List

bad — dab.

bag — gab.

ban — nab.

bats — stab.

bed — deb.

bid — dib.

bin — nib.

bog — gob.

bonk — knob.

brag — garb.

bro — orb.

bud — dub.

buns — snub.

bus — sub.

dam — mad.

dap — pat.

decaf — faced.

decal — laced.

deer — reed.

Semordnilap Examples

deliver — reviled.

denim — mined.

desserts — stressed.

devil — lived.

dew — wed.

dial — laid.

diaper — repaid.

dim — mid.

doom — mood.

draw — ward.

drawer — reward.

dual — laud.

edit — tide.

emit — time.

gateman — nametag

gnat — tang

gulp — plug.

gums — smug.

keel — leek.

knaps — spank.

knits — stink.

knob — bonk.

lager — regal.

lever — revel.

liar — rail.

loop — pool.

loot — tool

maps — spam.

may — yam.

moor — room.

naps — span.

net — ten.

nit — tin.

no — on.

not — ton.

now — won.

nuts — stun.

A long list of semordnilaps

Good Semordnilaps

oohs — shoo.

pacer — recap.

pals — slap.

pans — snap.

parts — strap.

pat — tap.

peels — sleep.

per — rep.

pets — step.

pins — snip.

pit — tip.

pools — sloop.

pot — top.

raps — spar.

rat — tar.

raw — war.

rebut — tuber.

redrawer — rewarder.

reknit — tinker.

remit — timer

saps — spas.

saw — was

smart — trams

spots — stops

snot — tons.

spit — tips

straw — warts

tort — trot

way — yaw.

Explained with examples

Semordnilap Examples in Sentences

Note: we’re showing the semordnilap and the word in reverse in one sentence.

1.) If I don’t purchase those desserts before the bakery closes, you know I’ll be stressed.

2.) What I saw was what I saw — no ifs, ands, or buts.

3.) The pot was on top of the stove.

4.) Owning pets is a good first step in a child assuming responsibility.

5.) The parts were all connected to one strap to make them easy to carry.

6.) I’m not one to brag about my garb, but this turtleneck brings out the blue in my eyes.

7.) Before getting to Google maps, I had to sort through some spam in my email folder.

Semodnilap FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about semodnilaps.

1. What’s another word for semodnilap?

Other words for semodnilaps include anadromes, emordnilaps, half-palindromes, heteropalindromes, mynoretehs, semi-palindromes, reversegrams, volvograms, and word reversals.

2. What is the shortest semodnilap?

The shortest semodnilap is “on,” which backward reads “no.”

3. What is the longest semodnilap?

I think we can agree that this is a trick question. The longest semodnilap is semodnilap (read backward is palindromes). The second-longest is emordnilap (read backward is palindrome). Other long semodnilaps include stressed (desserts) and gateman (nametag).

4. What’s an example of a semordnilap that was created intentionally?

In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry stumbles up the Mirror of Erised. Erised is a semodnilap (desire spelled backward). The mirror shows a person’s innermost desire.

Semodnilap Fun Facts

1.) If you group a semordnilap together with the word it spells backward, you’ve created a palindrome. For example, “top pot” reads the same forward and backward.

2.) The sorcerer in Disney’s movie FantasiaYen Sid – is Disney spelled backward. The character’s looks are modeled after Walt Disney.

3.) In British slang, a “yob” is a young man who is up to no good. Yob spelled backward is “boy.”

4.) Oprah Winfrey’s production company is called Harpo, which is her first name spelled backward.

Final Thought

After reading through these good semodnilaps, we hope to hear more “oohs” from our audience, rather than “shoo!”

By Mike O’Halloran

Mike is a wordplay lover, author, and co-founder of ListCaboodle. Don’t even get him started talking about Wordle.


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