Reversible words

Sure, I suppose words that can be reversed to spell other words (won/now, live/evil, desserts/stressed, etc.) may be generally considered anagrams, but we in the world of puzzles refer to them as “reversals”. I’ve also heard them referred to jokingly as “semordnilaps” but I don’t think this is particularly common.

– Francis Heaney

Sorry, I neglected to include the column link:

– Francis

While driving in to work the other day, I noticed in my mirror that the car behind me was an ATOYOT. It occured to me that if I referred to it as A TOYOTA I would have a palindrome. (A TOYOTA -> ATOYOT A).

Then, I realized that this worked in my mirror because all of the letters in the name were symmetrical. Not all palindromes have this property; for example MADAM, I’M ADAM is a palindrome (MADA M’I MADAM) but it wouldn’t look correct in a mirror since the D isn’t symmetric.
Is there any kind of name for this type of palindrome, or is it just an observation?

“You can’t run away forever; but there’s nothing wrong with getting a good head start.” — Jim Steinman

Dennis Matheson —
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb —

I’ve wondered about the same thing too, also with an imported car. My example isn’t that good though: ISUZU. USUZI? Err, well, I kept wishing the car was called an USIZU so that it would have reflectional symmetry.

I think the term you’re looking for is reflectional symmetry. USIZU has reflectional symmetry (at least in the font they use on the car) but isn’t a palindrome. A TOYOTA is a symmetrical palindrome (if you ignore the little space between the words). Most palindromes have no symmetry.

For more on symmetric words and calligraphy, take a look at this site: .

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

BTW fheaney, I assume you’ve noticed by now that your “semordnilap(s)” is palindrome spelled backward.
My favorite palindrome is racecar.

A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.
Nurse, I spy gypsies. Run!

“Son I am able,” she said
“though you scare me.”
“Watch,” said I “beloved,”
I said “watch me scare you though.”
Said she, “able am I, son.”