There is this page on Facebook which is created to make all sorts of incredibly complex anagrams, 101 Anagrammi Zen. On that page, I recently commented on the anagram "Alanis Morissette ---> More satanist lies", to notify the page of a typo because they originally had "Morrissette" and the anagram did not work.

I then saw someone else commented, stating that it should be "more lies satanist" and that the way it was it made no sense because words were inverted. I replied with a comment saying:

Dear , adjectives in English ALWAYS go before the nouns they refer to, except in very rare and mostly literary cases. "More lies satanist" is DECIDEDLY ungrammatical. That it may sound nonsensical I do not argue, but "lies satanist" is surely worse.

I had mentally labeled this person as a Grammar Nazi who commented without knowing what he was saying. He replied that in Italian schools we do so much grammar we become automas, and that this was one of those rare cases.

Now from his name and the rest of the comment exchange, he seems to be English, so if this is really an error on his part it sounds very strange. Yet it sounds terribly like one to me. A Google search found no evidence whatsoever for his claim, but then again the first 10 results for both "satanist lies" and "lies satanist" did not have the particular phrase, so I'm starting to think this phrase does not exist in English, and that one says "satanic lies" instead of "satanist lies".


The question however remains: should I say "satanist lies", with the adjective before the noun as usual, or is this some sort of fixed phrase with the order inverted?


For the record, he's a mothertongue (or so he says). I had missed that part in a comment of his.

Update 2

Seems I fell into a trap: another commenter says this guy was just doing a psychological experiment on reactions of people to others contradicting their claims :).

2 Answers 2


I'd say that adjectives formed with an -ist ending almost always appear before the noun they modify, whereas there's more leeway with adjectives formed with the suffix -ical.

I've had enough of your satanist lies, Alanis!

Ms. Morisette, these lies satanical must stop!


Aren't online anagram finders delightful? What fun! Your choice of "more satanist lies" as an anagram for Alanis Morissette makes much more sense than the other person's opinion ("more lies satanist"), which seems ungrammatical to me as well (at least without a comma between "lies" and "satanist" and perhaps an exclamation point at the end). I have an old friend named Dr. Robert Hsiung, whose name forms the anagram "Shinto Burger." I hope to see that on a menu in Japan some day!

I just saw your "Update 2." Whew! I thought you might be dealing with a nut (or worse).

My first choice in anagram finders is the "advanced search" on this site: http://wordsmith.org/anagram/index.html

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