Friends, Readers, Philologists
-drome, -drome, -drome, -drome, -DROME!
Sounds a bit ominous, at least, phonetically, doesn’t it? (Go ahead. Say that first line out loud. You’ll hear what I mean.)
Well, the fate of a word lies in your hands, dear readers, and, if you don’t do something about it, this particular word will meet its end, at least, officially.
How often are we word people called upon to actually make an impact on the vocabulary world? I’m not talking about peppering our speech with phrases and words that should be used but have been tossed by the wayside because they are too long, too obscure, or, on occasion, too archaic. Neither am I talking about slang and colloquialisms.
I’m talking about actually walking in the Bard’s footsteps and helping to create new words that should actually be inducted into the dictionary? (In case you didn’t know, Shakespeare invent about 1700 words in the course of his playwriting, sonnet spinning years.) I say should because I’m still reeling from the emoticons that have found entrance into the annals of the Oxford English, not to mention garnered the coveted “Word of the Year” award from the OED- 2015 is a year that will live on in infamy.
But, now there is a word, a princely word, a word worthy of inclusion in the OED and any other dictionary of repute, and it cries out to us all through the internet ether:
Help me, fellow philologists, you’re my only hope.
Here's a little background: William Shatner, philanthropist, humanitarian, comedian, and- ahem- perhaps, most importantly, Captain Kirk, the yin to Spock’s yang, the well-read maverick of the Final Frontier, has highlighted the plea of one of his fellow Canadians, six-year-old Levi Budd.
Son of author, archival preservationist, and oral historian Robert ‘Lucky’ Budd, Levi has had a love affair with words since a tiny tot (at six, I think he still qualifies as a tot). One day while sitting in his car seat, reading words on signs through the window, Levi ask a very good question. What do we call words that are spell one word forward and a different word backward, such as tap and pat?
After a little research, the Budd family discovered that there was no word in any dictionary for this linguistic phenomenon.
So, as Captain Spock said, “What we require now is a feat of linguistic legerdemain and a degree of intrepidity…”
The Budds came to a decision; if there was no word, then they needed to create one.
A levidrome is a word that spells one word forwards, but when read backwards, it spells another.
See, that’s where the -drome part comes in. Not drones, as in the pilotless aircrafts controlled by remote intent on ferreting out where Superman hangs his cape; but -drome, as in the combining form derived from the Greek δρομος. Can’t translate that? Good. Neither can I. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, δρομος, from which -drome evolves, means a running or to run.
The Budds settled on levidrome because it was a clever and respectful nod to palindrome. A palindrome is a word that is spelled the same backwards as forwards, such as racecar, madam, and level. (Palindromes can also refer to phrases, such as Amore, Roma.) To exercise our etymological muscles, it’s a word that runs the same way backward as it runs forward. (You see, that’s where the running part comes in.) Levidrome is also a portmanteau as well as an eponym. A portmanteau is a word that blends or combines two other morphemes (grammatical elements, such as a prefix, suffix, prepositions, conjunction, or stress pattern). In this case, the morphemes would be levi and drome. An eponym is a word that has received its name from a person, such as America from Amerigo Vespucci. Obviously, levidrome is named after the intrepid little lad, Levi Budd.
The Budds published a video discussing levidrome’s creation and how they were trying to get the word accepted into the dictionary officially. Their journey and plea came to the attention of William Shatner. He has petitioned the OED to begin steps for this word’s inclusion. This has been their response.
And, that’s where we come in, dear readers. We must use this word. Need I remind you that a six year old’s dream is at stake here? It’s tantamount that we throw this word around like confetti, not just because we want to support the Budds’ campaign for its validation by inclusion, but because it’s a word we can all use. In fact, I think the world NEEDS levidrome.
So, dear readers, fellow philologists, use levidrome, post your favorite levidromes on social media, tell your friends about this word’s existence and its fun origination, hashtag it when you use one or share one. And, together, perhaps we can have an impact on linguistic history.
And, for a bit of fun, can you guess the meanings of these -dromes? (No cheating; really try to guess them before reverting to a dictionary.)
Can you think of any -dromes I haven’t mentioned? What are they? What are some of you favorite levidromes? I quite like war and raw. Please share your favorites- or just the ones that come to mind- in the comments below.