Generally this may be called typo but when particularly two letters of a word are mistakenly swapped, what is this error called? Some examples:

teh > the
fromat > format
comptuer > computer

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    A symptom of dyslexia? – Alain Pannetier Φ Jul 5 '11 at 11:48
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    One's typing will need to be pretty bad... before it seems like a symptom of dyslexia. – Thursagen Jul 5 '11 at 12:17
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    Someone give this bloke's question an upvote!!!! – Thursagen Jul 5 '11 at 12:23
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    @Ham: IMHO this is a kind of common typing error for people which type fast with 10 fingers like programmers. – Martin Scharrer Jul 5 '11 at 14:27
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    I usually call it a tpyo. Of course, when typing that I accidentally entered "typo" and had to go back and uncorrect it... – Optimal Cynic Jul 5 '11 at 18:01

That is called a transposition error, and is very common for reasonably speedy touch-typists. The text editor Emacs even has a basic control chord (Ctrl+T) to swap (transpose) the preceding two characters.

From Wikipedia's transcription error page:

Transposition errors are commonly mistaken for transcription errors, but they should not be confused. As the name suggest, transposition errors occur when characters have “transposed” — that is, they have switched places. Transposition errors are almost always human in origin. The most common way for characters to be transposed is when a user is touch typing at a speed that makes them input one character, before the other. This may be caused by their brain being one step ahead of their body.

Examples of Transposition Error

Input : Gergory Instead of : Gregory

Input : 23rd of Auguts Instead of : 23rd of August

Input : Johsua Instead of : Joshua

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    +1 seems the most precise answer to what OP is looking for, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcription_error#Transposition_Error – Unreason Jul 5 '11 at 12:25
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    I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too. – Unreason Jul 5 '11 at 13:12
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    @Unreason: Astonishing! I really couldn't detect that I was reading that any slower than if everything had been transcibed as normal! – FumbleFingers Jul 5 '11 at 13:50
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    xp is the 'transpose' command in the text editor vi – Anguish Languish Jul 5 '11 at 14:05
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    @FumbleFingers, see mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/people/matt.davis/Cmabrigde (more interesting things towards the end of the article) :) – Unreason Jul 5 '11 at 14:07


This word is most often used of swapping sounds, but the OED defines it as "The transposition of sounds or letters in a word, or (occas.) of whole words or syllables; the result of such a transposition".

  • 3
    Technically speaking that's the word, but I think it's very much a linguistics term. In normal parlance I just say "transposition" anyway. – FumbleFingers Jul 5 '11 at 12:00
  • ...added to which metathesis is generally understood to produce a recognised/recognisable result. So I would say pwn, for example, could be thus described. But I'm not so keen on calling OP's comptuer an example of metathesis. – FumbleFingers Jul 5 '11 at 12:47
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    @FimbleFingers: good point about the restricted field. But don't understand the relevance of "pwn". Most linguistic use of "metathesis" is about language change, so the "recognised result" is rather moot. – Colin Fine Jul 5 '11 at 13:04
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    @FumbleFingers, I don't think the result must be an existing word, quote: 'Metathesis is responsible for the most common types of speech errors, such as children acquiring spaghetti as pasketti.' (wikipedia). I think you are misled by the fact that it usually does (as it is most effective as literary or rhetorical device when it does end up with recognizable result; however it does not prove nor imply that it must be so). – Unreason Jul 5 '11 at 13:22

I've seen "type twister". In German, there's a term for numbers getting twisted, "Zahlendreher" ...

  • Is there a literal translation of "Zahlendreher"? – Andrew Grimm Jul 6 '11 at 23:21
  • @Andrew “number twister”. Although it should really be “digit twister”, i.e. “Zifferndreher” (but I’ve never seen the latter). – Konrad Rudolph Jul 7 '11 at 10:55

protected by RegDwigнt Jul 5 '11 at 18:25

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