Old 12-10-2004, 01:49 PM
as_u_wish as_u_wish is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 1,185
Reversible Compound Words

Please help me compile a list of compound words that can be inverted. For example: uphold and holdup or layout and outlay. Is there a name for these? Anybody have a list ready made? I suspect some clever person has written an essay or short story using scads of them.

I prefer them without a hyphen or a space—so doghouse and housedog would fit the criteria, but firehouse and house fire would be marginal. There's no real reason I want this list--I just think words are intriguing.

Since this is an opinion/survey I picked IMHO, but my feelings won't be hurt if the moderators decide this is mundane and pointless.

Thanks all you creative types.
Old 12-10-2004, 02:07 PM
SpiceTea SpiceTea is offline
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Location: Shoreview MN
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I can only think of 2 right now:


Old 12-10-2004, 02:12 PM
SpiceTea SpiceTea is offline
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Old 12-10-2004, 02:14 PM
SpiceTea SpiceTea is offline
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Old 12-10-2004, 02:16 PM
SpiceTea SpiceTea is offline
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Old 12-10-2004, 04:52 PM
Bippy the Beardless Bippy the Beardless is offline
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over-sleep sleep-over

upset set-up

upbeat beat-up

off-beat beat-off

up-end end-up
Old 12-12-2004, 03:44 PM
Ignatz Ignatz is offline
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You might find this link interesting

Old 12-12-2004, 04:09 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Old 12-13-2004, 02:13 PM
primer_dimer primer_dimer is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 52
OK, I'll bite. This little problem diverted me from work this afternoon, so the least I can do is post a reply. I really hope I can format this right, or it'll be a terrible mess....

(I'm a long time lurker but thought I'd sign up to share this)

Perl to the rescue. This script assembles a list of big words (from a linux-style word list), and a list of smallish words, then looks for big words which:

a) are made up of two smaller words, and
b) when you write the two smaller words in the reverse order, the resulting word is found in the list of big words.

hope that makes sense It prints out the big word, two small words, then the reversed word.
The most interesting ones, to me, are those where the word and it's reverse aren't obviously linked:

overtake/takeover (in the corporate sense)
handover/overhand (sounds like a tennis shot or something)
fantail/tailfan (pidgeon vs aeroplane)
pintails/tailspin (and again..)
workhouse/housework (from Dickensian to modern times)
ownership/shipowner (I like this one!)

That's enough for now...think I'll go home.


redrive   red     rive    rivered
potshots   pots     hots    hotspots
wingover   wing     over    overwing
joypop   joy     pop    popjoy
upclose   up     close    closeup
manpack   man     pack    packman
rotgut   rot     gut    gutrot
blowup   blow     up    upblow
railhead   rail     head    headrail
turnout   turn     out    outturn
speakout   speak     out    outspeak
uplook   up     look    lookup
backset   back     set    setback
holdup   hold     up    uphold
cookout   cook     out    outcook
outpitch   out     pitch    pitchout
foldup   fold     up    upfold
burnout   burn     out    outburn
comedown   come     down    downcome
liftback   lift     back    backlift
rivered   rive     red    redrive
ringdove   ring     dove    dovering
headshot   heads     hot    hotheads
picklock   pick     lock    lockpick
buildup   build     up    upbuild
barstool   bars     tool    toolbars
nosecone   nose     cone    conenose
teddie   ted     die    dieted
fallback   fall     back    backfall
castoff   cast     off    offcast
dentin   dent     in    indent
toolbars   tool     bars    barstool
holdover   hold     over    overhold
blowfly   blow     fly    flyblow
outroll   out     roll    rollout
footlight   foot     light    lightfoot
takeover   take     over    overtake
bookcase   book     case    casebook
chairbed   chair     bed    bedchair
hotspots   hots     pots    potshots
overhold   over     hold    holdover
linkup   link     up    uplink
pinhead   pin     head    headpin
outpush   out     push    pushout
layover   lay     over    overlay
overspill   over     spill    spillover
overall   over     all    allover
wingbacks   wing     backs    backswing
outlay   out     lay    layout
fishbone   fish     bone    bonefish
uplock   up     lock    lockup
upfold   up     fold    foldup
shootout   shoot     out    outshoot
overhand   over     hand    handover
passout   pass     out    outpass
gutrot   gut     rot    rotgut
pileup   pile     up    uppile
handover   hand     over    overhand
upwind   up     wind    windup
sellout   sell     out    outsell
insculp   in     sculp    sculpin
outcook   out     cook    cookout
layout   lay     out    outlay
putoff   put     off    offput
runout   run     out    outrun
output   out     put    putout
buyout   buy     out    outbuy
backseat   back     seat    seatback
casebook   case     book    bookcase
makeup   make     up    upmake
birdsong   bird     song    songbird
workbook   work     book    bookwork
kavakava   kava     kava    kavakava
fallout   fall     out    outfall
outpull   out     pull    pullout
tagrag   tag     rag    ragtag
hotheads   hot     heads    headshot
outrun   out     run    runout
scaleup   scale     up    upscale
dropout   drop     out    outdrop
codling   cod     ling    lingcod
rootworm   root     worm    wormroot
everwhich   ever     which    whichever
woodworm   wood     worm    wormwood
greegree   gree     gree    greegree
tailfan   tail     fan    fantail
pushout   push     out    outpush
lockup   lock     up    uplock
bonefish   bone     fish    fishbone
downplay   down     play    playdown
pawpaw   paw     paw    pawpaw
lightfoot   light     foot    footlight
blether   blet     her    herblet
lablab   lab     lab    lablab
sidetrack   side     track    trackside
outfall   out     fall    fallout
grisgris   gris     gris    grisgris
breakup   break     up    upbreak
weewee   wee     wee    weewee
ragtag   rag     tag    tagrag
flyover   fly     over    overfly
backfall   back     fall    fallback
breakout   break     out    outbreak
without   with     out    outwith
upmake   up     make    makeup
uphang   up     hang    hangup
outbreak   out     break    breakout
upscale   up     scale    scaleup
fantail   fan     tail    tailfan
overwing   over     wing    wingover
outdrop   out     drop    dropout
wormroot   worm     root    rootworm
lingcod   ling     cod    codling
spillover   spill     over    overspill
gallnut   gall     nut    nutgall
townhome   town     home    hometown
boxwood   box     wood    woodbox
kinakina   kina     kina    kinakina
downcome   down     come    comedown
hotshots   hots     hots    hotshots
tailspin   tails     pin    pintails
lookout   look     out    outlook
backfire   back     fire    fireback
setout   set     out    outset
upgrown   up     grown    grownup
redskin   reds     kin    kinreds
turndown   turn     down    downturn
uppile   up     pile    pileup
flowback   flow     back    backflow
flyblow   fly     blow    blowfly
hangover   hang     over    overhang
gascon   gas     con    congas
cardphone   card     phone    phonecard
bootjack   boot     jack    jackboot
cutover   cut     over    overcut
watchout   watch     out    outwatch
stonerag   stone     rag    ragstone
dovering   dove     ring    ringdove
tiderip   tide     rip    riptide
potshot   pots     hot    hotpots
overlay   over     lay    layover
printouts   print     outs    outsprint
manhood   man     hood    hoodman
floodwater   flood     water    waterflood
outbuy   out     buy    buyout
outsprint   outs     print    printouts
overcarry   over     carry    carryover
hilahila   hila     hila    hilahila
tailcoat   tail     coat    coattail
birdcage   bird     cage    cagebird
within   with     in    inwith
backpay   back     pay    payback
dividivi   divi     divi    dividivi
lastage   last     age    agelast
allover   all     over    overall
outback   out     back    backout
humhum   hum     hum    humhum
hometown   home     town    townhome
outwith   out     with    without
kinreds   kin     reds    redskin
manjack   man     jack    jackman
jackboot   jack     boot    bootjack
worktop   work     top    topwork
sideway   side     way    wayside
coocoo   coo     coo    coocoo
takeup   take     up    uptake
backout   back     out    outback
incase   in     case    casein
washout   wash     out    outwash
solein   sole     in    insole
popjoy   pop     joy    joypop
upstand   up     stand    standup
outlook   out     look    lookout
uptoss   up     toss    tossup
pitchout   pitch     out    outpitch
setback   set     back    backset
upbreak   up     break    breakup
sawpit   saw     pit    pitsaw
trackside   track     side    sidetrack
downturn   down     turn    turndown
herein   here     in    inhere
overpass   over     pass    passover
jackman   jack     man    manjack
uphold   up     hold    holdup
longhead   long     head    headlong
sawbuck   saw     buck    bucksaw
hangup   hang     up    uphang
overrun   over     run    runover
packman   pack     man    manpack
sweptback   swept     back    backswept
oversleep   over     sleep    sleepover
inhere   in     here    herein
sleepover   sleep     over    oversleep
waterflood   water     flood    floodwater
cagebird   cage     bird    birdcage
workout   work     out    outwork
tossup   toss     up    uptoss
windup   wind     up    upwind
upcatch   up     catch    catchup
backflow   back     flow    flowback
woodbox   wood     box    boxwood
songbird   song     bird    birdsong
upblow   up     blow    blowup
housework   house     work    workhouse
outwatch   out     watch    watchout
readout   read     out    outread
sendup   send     up    upsend
workpiece   work     piece    piecework
indent   in     dent    dentin
payback   pay     back    backpay
outwork   out     work    workout
takeout   take     out    outtake
ownership   owner     ship    shipowner
takeoff   take     off    offtake
slipover   slip     over    overslip
conenose   cone     nose    nosecone
overcut   over     cut    cutover
upstart   up     start    startup
rollout   roll     out    outroll
piecework   piece     work    workpiece
overturn   over     turn    turnover
outburn   out     burn    burnout
gasman   gas     man    mangas
cancan   can     can    cancan
catchup   catch     up    upcatch
slipcover   slip     cover    coverslip
handoff   hand     off    offhand
overfly   over     fly    flyover
playdown   play     down    downplay
upsend   up     send    sendup
pullout   pull     out    outpull
zoozoo   zoo     zoo    zoozoo
chinachina   china     china    chinachina
headrail   head     rail    railhead
seatback   seat     back    backseat
shotgun   shot     gun    gunshot
shipmate   ship     mate    mateship
huntsman   hunts     man    manhunts
runover   run     over    overrun
racehorse   race     horse    horserace
workday   work     day    daywork
standout   stand     out    outstand
hotpots   hot     pots    potshot
pindowns   pin     downs    downspin
putout   put     out    output
guesthouse   guest     house    houseguest
headpin   head     pin    pinhead
overtake   over     take    takeover
houseguest   house     guest    guesthouse
outturn   out     turn    turnout
furfur   fur     fur    furfur
jigjig   jig     jig    jigjig
outpass   out     pass    passout
coattail   coat     tail    tailcoat
watchdog   watch     dog    dogwatch
cutoff   cut     off    offcut
sidehill   side     hill    hillside
agelast   age     last    lastage
fireback   fire     back    backfire
backlift   back     lift    liftback
daywork   day     work    workday
downspin   downs     pin    pindowns
houseboat   house     boat    boathouse
linecut   line     cut    cutline
hoodman   hood     man    manhood
wormwood   worm     wood    woodworm
boathouse   boat     house    houseboat
setoff   set     off    offset
walkout   walk     out    outwalk
backtalk   back     talk    talkback
overhang   over     hang    hangover
shipowner   ship     owner    ownership
closeup   close     up    upclose
uplink   up     link    linkup
turnover   turn     over    overturn
turnup   turn     up    upturn
lockpick   lock     pick    picklock
nutgall   nut     gall    gallnut
railbed   rail     bed    bedrail
kingpin   king     pin    pinking
cutline   cut     line    linecut
overhung   over     hung    hungover
workhouse   work     house    housework
whichever   which     ever    everwhich
chowchow   chow     chow    chowchow
casein   case     in    incase
upbuild   up     build    buildup
frypan   fry     pan    panfry
headlong   head     long    longhead
standup   stand     up    upstand
backswept   back     swept    sweptback
outwalk   out     walk    walkout
panfry   pan     fry    frypan
insole   in     sole    solein
lavalava   lava     lava    lavalava
overslip   over     slip    slipover
outwash   out     wash    washout
talkback   talk     back    backtalk
manhunts   man     hunts    huntsman
hungover   hung     over    overhung
wingovers   wing     overs    overswing
bookwork   book     work    workbook
lookup   look     up    uplook
upturn   up     turn    turnup
passover   pass     over    overpass

Script (inefficient, I know, but it was a quick hack):

use strict;
use warnings;
open IN, $ARGV[0];
my %words;
while (<IN>){
	chomp $_;
	my $lower=lc $_;
# get all words between three and five letters long
my @small = grep {(length($_) < 5) && (length($_) > 3)} keys %words;

# add the two-letter words we want to look for
push @small, qw/be do go me if in is my of to on un up /;

# add the three-letter words we want to look for
push @small, qw/ sod can sax los urn tap jig job ike dug woe hot hug tex ibn tab bob faq foe any poe uri vat rub vic big rat elk bra lit ton eva may cub ace lev jot son bin ken rid pan err ice via kim bet rye tea goa era dow han bag sky arm sri oil tau was ply sum hem moo rut led zan spy low cog pod see bun yea sub bay roy awl abu get jay dad mat inn flo sea din god she liz tax wee ban jim sol ten ted had lax bid tim dig gun cab imp fag hom aim lot qua dis cue ark red sue fee lip odd nip loy stu hen nan two ale rip joe sly kid ned dry nil yet oat pie vex elf lab flu egg oar ape ego huh vie met hun pot fix act abe wan law dan jed fed fan pal gin mob hue bat apt rum jog mid abo boa wag paw jam nut ads owl cry has con kit ail eye men gig mew dec all irk rio hal ago toy fin hog sag ott ebb tar cop ski six ass ode dub hap roe gap pep tit the pup ray ear sow key cam mow eli its dee amy dew ram kin lew max mac bog non ant why jaw ann air jab rot but nab use mug gel old car dog pig wit oak are fit gus leg pro jug hey sun dim len bum ion ask out jew ohm fur web set aye nat bad age ere ada rho bug end him did boo ill gum tow des hoe eel how hut pub pay cut sam mae tin dip pop gil oft wei bar jet hip off per vow add gem leo gut sad jar rig buy hop own art gad nag phi awe net meg raw den put won pry rap fro toe nay orb yes quo try ate eve lac lap saw arc ron and rex ben boy kay van gas who rib fat way jut say rod bud pam our ida dud hum woo new nod her fir fly ink wig shu eat cat pun sit sex soy fig cod ira fry pea too pad rue sap mel ely mud few ham cup bee bye don sus war for map eke run ire sip par sao rae caw doe day pin joy rag oaf fen hew lee ewe ran lid wet orr erg tie tug pit bed pus cap opt rim pet bus hit tip wax hag lie man his tan box ugh ivy ore lay aid pox top del elm sew zoe lad paz let owe uzi sat sob nap gag gay hay bow dam lou hex eng fog tag lao asp peg win doc rug rob you icy hub pat die san pew mop dye tom hat pen yuh aft gab lag ash yon mad cot row fob hid now far got sir fib fun jon gnu bit cow tub ali mao bib zen beg pip lin sal ian moe mix ito vax one dar zoo fox due ado shy guy nor bah coo nun spa not dot/;

# assemble regular expressions

my $regstart = '^'. join '|^', @small;

my $regend = '^'. join ('$|^', @small).'$';

foreach (keys %words){

	#print "$_, $&\n" 

	#if the big word begins with a small word (eg. 'outlook' begins with 'out' )..
	if (m/$regstart/o){
		my $start = $&;
		my $after=$';
		# if the rest of the big word (eg. 'look') is also a small word..
		if ($after =~ m/$regend/){
			my $end = $&;
			last if ($end eq $start);
			my $backwards=$end.$start;
			# and if those two words written the other way around (lookout) is also a big word..print it
			print "$_   $start     $end    $backwards\n" if $words{$backwards};
Old 12-14-2004, 05:01 AM
primer_dimer primer_dimer is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 52

OK, thought up a much more efficient (about 100 times, as it turns out!) search last night, allowing me to look for longer "small words". I won't post the code out again, but it gives some interesting longer ones:

10 letters:
headsprint/springhead (both mean roughly the same, I think)
sidestream/streamside (more water!)

and a monster, 12 letters:


Still haven't been able to find any double reverseable compound words though.... like if boa and thouse were both valid words, and so was the compound word thouseboa then


would be a neat double reversible compound word group (and I would have found it!). Anyone know of any?


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