Immediately after reading about this on The Straight Dope, I read in an article on MSN.com that an anagram that spells different words backwards and forwards (evil - live, for example) is called a semordnilap.
Did the MSN article say that that was an accepted name or did they just make it up?
This word is also listed here: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/semordnilap
however, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the word semordnilap just doesn’t sound like a descriptor for a word structure.
The reason… it’s just the word “palindromes” backwards.
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/ suggests semi-palindrome or half-palindrome - but concedes there is no official accepted term.
Way back when, I used to see the word “drow” being used. A whole lot easier to spell and pronounce.
C’mon Greeks — little help?
Wiki says it was coined by Dmitri Borgmann. I have a couple of his recreational language books, and they’re worth seeking out if you can find them cheaply.
I’d be surprised if Borgmann was the first to come up with semordnilap. It just seems too obvious.
The most generic and common term I’ve heard is reversal. Of course, one can reverse any word, so perhaps it’s too generic.
As for drow, that’s what dark elves are called in D&D. I think it’s a revival of an old word found in the OED.
As for Borgmann’s books, I have two copies each of Language on Vacation and Beyond Language. Don’t have Curious Crosswords, but I was never a crossword fan.
The WIki page on Semordnilap states:
Doing a Google ngram search finds no hits before 1965 other than that one.