This is a bit of sideways entry into the question: A few years ago, I was watching a Russian television show and on it a teacher told his pupil that he’d repeatedly been reading and writing a word wrong – rearranging the letters just slightly. Namely, he read and wrote pleckstrin as plescktrin. An English analogue would be writing and reading discography as dicsography.

The teacher used a specific word to describe this, which I assume has an English equivalent since the subject discussed in the television show was poetry. I am asking for this English equivalent.

  • Something in the constellation of mondegreen, eggcorn, etc, but I can't think of a term specific to one word with minor transpositions. Do you remember the Russian word, or is that what you're seeking, ultimately? – Dan Bron Nov 15 '16 at 6:47

"Metathesis" is defined in The Random House College dictionary, for example, as the transposition of letters, syllables, or sounds in a word. Sometimes new words are formed from metathetic transpositions.
For example "dirt" came from "drit" and "scrimmage" came from "skirmish." People who do not suffer from dyslexia, will from time to time slip up and switch syllables.

EDIT (added reference):


metathesis noun
: a change of place or condition: as
a : transposition of two phonemes in a word (as in the development of crud from curd or the pronunciation \ˈpər-tē\ for pretty)


What you’re describing is known in English as dyslexia. From Wikipedia:

Dyslexia, also known as reading disorder, is characterized by trouble with reading despite normal intelligence. Different people are affected to varying degrees. Problems may include difficulties in spelling words, reading quickly, writing words, "sounding out" words in the head, pronouncing words when reading aloud and understanding what one reads.

  • 3
    I am not dyslexic, but have had the experience of consistently understanding the letters of a particular word to be other than they are. Even though I've been aware of my mistake for years, I still have to think twice to recall that 'satellite' is not spelled 'statellite'. This isn't exactly what Yuriy describes, I add a letter rather than rearrange, but I think it is similar in cause and effect, which is an initial misreading followed by a lot of confirmation bias. (I always want to miss a 't' out of 'testosterone' as well, perhaps it's a satellite 't' that fell out of its own word's orbit.) – Spagirl Nov 15 '16 at 14:39
  • 1
    Not dyslexic either. My downfall is badinage which I persistently read and think of as bandiage. – ab2 Nov 15 '16 at 17:16
  • 1
    I think a more common flipping is "renumeration" for remuneration. – Airymouse Nov 15 '16 at 17:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.