Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"palindrome" must die

The word "palindrome" is not itself a palindrome, which has always bothered me. We need to invent a palindromic word for "palindrome," but it can't just be a nonsense word: it should be a word whose root elements suggest the notion of a palindrome (palin = again/back; dromos = a running; see here). This means a word like "palinilap" is out, since "nilap" is nonsense, both lexically and etymologically. We may have to search long and hard among Greek, Latin, or other roots before we find what we're looking for, but I think this could be a worthwhile brain-teaser.



Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

How about "backcab"? It picks us up and returns us to the beginning.

Jeffery Hodges

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Kevin Kim said...

I like it. I like it a lot. But I'm holding out for more ideas.

Charles said...

Are you looking for consistency? That is, no mixing of Latin/Greek/etc.?

By the way, what is it that we call words that do what they say on the tin? I can't even think of a good example right now, but I thought there was a word for that sort of thing. Like if palindrome were actually a palindrome. It's driving me nuts (said the pirate...), and Google is no help.

Dom said...

If you have a company that makes palindromes, you should call it "Proct Corp", from Greek "proktos" meaning back (as in anus, think proctology). Or is that a stretch?

Kevin Kim said...


That rocks. And the space between the two words might keep the less-observant from seeing the palindrome right away.

As for the matter of the palindromic designation for palindromes... any ideas? I admit I'm out, but I haven't really sat down and racked my brains about this yet. I like Dr. Hodges's submission; it's "outside of the box" in that he didn't go for obvious Greek or Latin roots.


I suppose the mixing of Gk/Ltn roots would be OK, but I'd have to run it past my aesthetic sense first, to see how melodious the word was. There are examples of G/L mixes in modern English, aren't there? Wikipedia on classical compounds:

"Words of mixed Latin and Greek lineage, or words that combine elements of the classical languages with English, were formerly castigated as "barbarisms" by prescriptionist usage commentators; this disapproval has mostly abated. Indeed, in scientific nomenclature, even more exotic hybrids have appeared, such as for example the dinosaur Yangchuanosaurus. Personal names appear in some scientific names such as Fuchsia."

Ugly, in many cases, but serviceable.