What is a Semordnilap?

alex atkins bookshelf wordsAlthough is sounds like a Swedish dish, a semordnilap is a word, phrase, or sentence that can be read in reverse with a different meaning. The word, a reverse spelling of “palindromes,” was coined by Martin Gardner in 1961. An example of a semordnilap is “evil / live.” But perhaps the most well-known example of a semordnilap is: “dog / god” — the subject of much philosophical pondering.

So how is a semordnilap different than a palindrome? Although they are related, a semordnilap is different from a palindrome because the word or phrase that is formed from the reverse spelling has an entirely different meaning; in a palindrome the meaning is exactly the same if read in either direction. For example, the palindrome “Madam I’m Adam” reads the same backward as forward. Palindromic words like noon, civic, radar, level, and madam all have the same meaning spelled backward and forward.

Interestingly, the word semordnilaps has many synonyms: anadromes, antigram, half-palindromes, heteropalindromes, mynoretehs, reversible anagrams,  reversgrams, semi-palindromes, and word reversals.

Here are samples of semordnilaps:

avid / diva

desserts / stressed

deliver / reviled

devil / lived

dioramas / samaroid

drawer / reward

dog / god

evil / live

fires / serif

ogre / ergo

looter / retool

murder / redrum

repaid / diaper

rewarder / redrawer

swap / paws

Read related posts: What is a Phantonym?
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What Rhymes with Orange?
Words with Letters in Alphabetical Order

For further reading: A Word a Day by Anu Garg
http://www.quotepuzzler.com/info/heteropalindromes.asp
http://www.dcode.fr/semordnilap-generator

 

 


What is the Most Expensive Coin in the World?

alex atkins bookshelf triviaBefore the advent of credit cards, debit cards, and bitcoin, there was time when currency and coins were king. And if you are lucky enough to inherit a coin collection, you should immediately check to see if you own the most expensive coin in the world — the 1794 Flowing Hair dollar. What is is worth? That coin sold for more than $10 million ($10,016,875 to be precise) at auction in January 2013. Now that’s serious coin, my friend!

So what makes the Flowing Hair dollar so valuable? The Flowing Hair is extremely rare, of course; it was the first dollar coin issued by the national mint of the United States federal government (the Philadelphia Mint). Some numismatists (coin collectors) believe that the coin was touched by George Washington. Although the dollar coin was authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792, the silver coin was not produced until 1794; a second production was authorized in 1795.

The Flowing Hair dollar coin, based on the Spanish dollar, was designed by engraver Robert Scot. On the front (obverse), the coin features a bust of Liberty facing right, with long flowing hair falling on her neck. The reverse of the coin features an eagle with elevated wings, surrounded by a wreath. The coin measures 39 to 40mm in diameter and weighs 26.96 grams. Only 1,758 Flowing Hair dollar coins were produced during an initial production (October 1794) and an additional 3,810 coins in May 1795. In October of 1795, the rather stoic bust of Liberty was replaced by a more refined, feminine bust of Liberty designed by artist Gilbert Stuart based on what is believed to be a profile of socialite Ann Willing Bingham; this coin is referred to as the Draped Bust coin. The Draped Bust coin has sold at auction between $4.1 and $2.3 million.

Read related posts: The Most Expensive Dust Jacket
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The Most Expensive Books Sold in 2014
The Most Expensive Books Sold in 2012

For further reading: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/most-expensive-coin/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_coins
http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/most-expensive-coins-ever-sold.html


What is the Longest Movie Title?

alex atkins bookshelf moviesFilm directors know that although a long movie title stands out in a list as an outlier, it does not necessarily translate to success at the box office. The constraints of marketing material, and the mindset of the average moviegoer, prefer shorter, more memorable movie titles. Besides, the film will be referred to using an abbreviated title anyway. But that hasn’t stopped movie directors from releasing films with really long titles — perhaps, to prove that they can. Here is a list of notable movies with the longest titles:

Night Of The Day Of The Dawn Of The Son Of The Bride Of The Return Of The Revenge Of The Terror Of The Attack Of The Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Flesh-Eating, Crawling, Alien, Zombified, Subhumanoid Living Dead — Part 5
Directed by James Riffel; released in 2011
41 words; 177 characters

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes
Directed by Ken Anakin; released in 1965
20 words; 85 characters(85)

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Directed by Sacha Baron Cohen; released in 2006
12 words; 72 characters

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Directed by Stanley Kubrick; released in 1964
13 words; 56 characters

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Directed by Migeul Arteta; released in 2014
10 words; 50 characters

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
Directed by Christopher Monger; released in 1995
12 words; 47 characters

Read related posts: What is the Longest Movie?
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What is the Longest Song Title?

For further reading: http://www.imdb.com


Funny Names of Real People

atkins bookshelf wordsIn his book, Bertha Venation, retired editor Larry Ashmead, who worked at Simon and Schuster and Doubleday, shares his entertaining collection of funny and strange names of real people. A collector of names is called an appellationist (a new word introduced by Bookshelf back in September 2016). Like fellow appellationist, John Train, Ashmead has always been fascinated by names. Below are some interesting names from the chapter entitled, “Did I hear that right? Say these names out loud and blush.” Some of these make you wonder: what were the parents thinking?:

Dick Byter

Anita Dick

Sheila Dikshit

Becky Fuchs

Dick Hartup

Barbara Fatt Heinie

Jay Heiny

Phat Ho

Jason Panty

Janet Woodcock

Phuc Yu

What funny real names have you come across?

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How Rock Bands Got Their Names 3
How Rock Bands Got Their Names 4

For further reading: Bertha Venation by Larry Ashmead


What is the Grossest Word in the English Language?

atkins bookshelf wordsThe English language, with more than a million words, has many euphonious (beautiful-sounding) words. The flip side of that coin, is that it also has a lot of ugly-sounding words. Of course, a sub-group of ugly-sounding words are ones that may not sound ugly, but evoke a really ugly visual, i.e., words that are simply gross. The logophiles at dictionary.com reached out to their readers to find out which words they thought were the grossest. Here is their list of the 15 words they thought were “so gross they’ll make you sick.” Not surprisingly, some of the grossest words are related to the most disgusting discharges from the human body. Ew!

diarrhea: an intestinal disorder characterized by abnormal frequency, fluidity, and velocity of fecal evacuations

feces: waste matter that is discharged from the bowels after food has been digested (in medical terms, stercus; in kid terms, poop)

fester: to form pus, and generate purulent matter; to cause ulceration in the flesh

feculent: full of dregs or fecal matter; foul, muddy, or turbid

fetid: having an offensive odor

maggot: soft-bodied legless larva, especially that of a fly, found in decaying matter

masticate: to chew

mucus: a viscous, lubricating mixture of electrolytes, epithelial cells, leukocytes, mucins, and water that is secreted by glands lining the esophageal, nasal, and other body cavities

ooze: to flow, percolate, or exude slowly, as through a small opening

phlegm: the thick mucus secreted in the respirator passages and discharged through the mouth

pimple: a small, usually inflammatory welling of the skin containing pus

scab: the incrustation that forms over a sore or wound during healing

seepage: to ooze gradually through a porous substance

smegma: a thick, cheese-like sebaceous secretion that collects beneath the female and male genitalia

vomit: to eject the contents of the stomach through the mouth

Read related posts: What is the Most Beautiful Sounding Word in English?
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Difficult Tongue Twisters
Rare Anatomy Words
What Rhymes with Orange?

For further reading: http://www.dictionary.com/slideshows/gross-words?param=wotdemail&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WOTD%203/25/17&utm_term=wordoftheday#maggot


How Often Do People Check Their Phone?

alex atkins bookshelf cultureCell phone addiction is a very real problem; it even has a name: nomophobia. A person with nomophonia obsessively checks his or her cell phone and feels anxious when not connected to the internet. And losing a smartphone causes absolute panic — increased heart rate, difficulty in breathing, and overwhelming anxiety. Watching a person look for their lost cell phone is like watching a junkie tearing their room apart to find their missing stash. It isn’t pretty. And every parent knows that taking away is cell phone is the most draconian punishment for an adolescent; it is considered the nuclear option. But we digress — researchers have found that increased smartphone use leads to increased narcissism as well as an increase in level of cell phone addiction that paradoxically leads to loneliness, moodiness, and jealousy. That’s right — all those happy, laughing emojis in the realm of the zestful social network do not necessarily lead to a happy, fulfilling life. In the past few years, several studies have provided insight into mobile phone addiction; here are the sobering statistics about how often people check their phones [insert startled emoji]:

The average person checks his or her phone 85 times per day

The average person checks his or her phone every 5 minutes.

The average person spends about five hours a day using apps and web browsing

At least 50% of smartphone use occurs in burst of 30 seconds or less (researches call this “rapid mobile phone interactions”)

37% of people carry a back up battery on a daily basis

14% of people carry a back up cell phone on a regular basis

14% of people carry a portable charger on a daily basis

The average person touches their phone 2,617 times a day

The average person clicks, taps, or swipes their phones 5,427 times a day

Americans between the ages of 18 to 24 check their phones about 74 times a day

Americans between the ages of 25 to 34 check their phones about 50 times a day

Americans between the ages of 35 to 44 check their phones about 35 times a day

Americans who are deceased check their phones 0 times a day (just checking to see if you were paying attention)

Americans collectively check their phone 8 billion times a day

81% of Americans check their phones while dining out at restaurants

26% of Americans ages of 18-24 text message immediately after waking up (before checking email)

Most common daily smartphone activities of the average person: text messaging, website browsing, voice/video calls; email

Read related posts: There’s a Word for That: Nomophobia
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For further reading: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3294994/How-check-phone-Average-user-picks-device-85-times-DAY-twice-realise.html
http://time.com/4147614/smartphone-usage-us-2015/
http://www.networkworld.com/article/3092446/smartphones/we-touch-our-phones-2617-times-a-day-says-study.html


Five Fascinating Facts About English Literature

catkins-bookshelf-literatureWhen Brian Boone, a writer and editor for the trivia-packed Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series, wrote English Lit 101: From Jane Austen to George Orwell and the Enlightenment to Realism, a lively and entertaining romp through seven centuries of Britain’s greatest writers and their works, he stumbled upon five fascinating facts.

1. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is a reversed Latinized version of his real first and middle names (he was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). The clever author translated Charles Lutwidge into Latin, Carolus Ludovicus, and then back to English, Carroll Lewis; then he simply reversed their order to Lewis Carroll. 

2. Frankenstein was the first vampire novel were the result of a writing contest. The scene: a house on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The guests: Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelly, and John William Polidori. On a dark, stormy day, to pass the time away, they — what else? — read dark German stories, like the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. This, in turn, inspired Byron to propose a ghost story contest. The result? Shelley famous novella, Frankenstein, and Polidori’s novella, The Vampyre — both seminal works that created the monster and romantic vampire genres.

3. George Orwell (born Eric Blair), author of the classics Animal Farm and 1984, was ahead of his time, not only with respect to his insights into the modern world, but also blogging. Orwell, according to Boone, pioneered the concept of writing about a wide variety of rather mundane topics, foreshadowing the blogs of today (eg., listicles, best of lists, how-to guides, etc.) like postcards, how to make tea, and the difference between British and American pulp novels. In short, Orwell was the first blogger — before there was an internet and a real Big Brother!

4. Thanks to the efforts of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the epic The Lord of the Rings, the 1,000-year-old epic poem, Beowulf, is well-known and studied. In 1936, Tolkien, a professor of literature and languages at Oxford University, wrote “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” that ignited a 20th century interest in the poem. Moreover, this poem is what inspired him to write fiction — without Beowulf and Grendel, we would not have Frodo and Sauron.

5. King Arthur was not English — at first. The stories of Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin, and Robin Hood did not originate in England; they originated from France and Wales. During the 8th century, Nennius, a monk, wrote the story of the warlord Arthur who led the Britons in their defense of the invading Saxons in the 5th century. It is these stories that were passed down via oral tradition in France. By the 1300s, they had been shaped into an epic poem, the inspiration for English writer Thomas Malory’s French-titled (Le Morte d’Arthur) but English-language narrative of the King Arthur legends published in 1484.

Read related posts: Random Fascinating Facts About Authors
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First Typewritten Book

For further reading: English Lit 101: From Jane Austen to George Orwell and the Enlightenment to Realism by Brian Boone
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/5-amazing-things-learned-english-literature-writing-english-literature-101/


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