I'm trying to find out the name for a word that was obtained by inversing the sound in another word. Is there a word for it?

Although cheat and teach would seem an easy example of such a pair, it is only close. When we don't restrain ourself to English word, we have the pair Made/Maid with the Latin word diem, which could be argued as being used in English, notably in the idiom "carpe diem".

  • 1
    @Mari-Lou A Like, "What do you call the words obtained by inversing the order of the sounds?"
    – Eldroß
    Mar 14, 2016 at 7:40
  • @Mari-LouA I see two options, either I'm deleting the first sentence/paragraph altogether, as the title is quite explicit, or I rephrase the first sentence like "I'm trying to find out the name for a...". I'm not all too sure on which option would be the best, although I tend for the first one. Or is it what you are trying to get at?
    – Eldroß
    Mar 29, 2016 at 7:40

2 Answers 2


It is an example of Phonetic Reversal.
(or is it Phonemic reversal?, as Jon Purdy points out in the comments: reversal of the order of the phonemes /ch/, /ea/, and /t/ rather than the phones [t], [ʃ], [iː], and [t] or [ʔ]).

It could be an instance of backmasking, even though the Wikipedia article does mention:

Phonetic reversal is not entirely identical to backmasking, which is specifically the reversal of recorded sound.
This is because pronunciation in speech causes a reversed diphthong to sound different in either direction (e.g. eye [aɪ] becoming yah [jɑː]), or differently emphasize a consonant depending on where it lies in a word, hence creating an imperfect reversal.

Backmasking involves not only the reversal of the order of phonemes, but the reversal of the phonemes themselves, which means that the reversed sound of a phrase may be hard to predict.

So I am not sure that the word "teach" played reversed would actually gives "cheat".
If it doesn't, I didn't find any "one word" to characterize this particular inversion.

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    Wouldn't the OP's example then be phonemic reversal? That is, reversal of the order of the phonemes /ch/, /ea/, and /t/ rather than the phones [t], [ʃ], [iː], and [t] or [ʔ].
    – Jon Purdy
    Dec 1, 2010 at 17:20
  • @Jon Purdy, you are indeed right, and I used a bad example. I'll edit my post right away.
    – Eldroß
    Dec 1, 2010 at 17:50
  • @Jon: possible (I have included your comment in the answer), but I wouldn't be able to answer it decisively.
    – VonC
    Dec 1, 2010 at 17:50

One or two, one, a Palindrome.

The palindromes could be a word or phrase which are read the same to one side or the other. In spanish is hard but not that much, remember that you say in spanish the same as you read, I mean:

Anilina - anilinA

Sometemos - sometemoS

Se es o no se es

In English:

Redivider - redivideR

God! a dog!

Never odd or even.

But in this case could be just the sound because, clearly teach - cheat are not written the same as for the palindromes, it should be:

teach - hcaet

Two, I think from what I've read that you could call it anagram, that's a rearranging of the letters of a word to form another:

Made - Dame

teach - cheat

And not as palindrome which should be JUST the inverse with no rearrange.

You could read about almost the same question here: Palindrome-anagram

Hope it helps.

  • It seems that palindrome is only a corner case, where the word is it's own Phonetic Reversal. (See answer from VonC) I'm also familiar with anagrams, but the made dame pair wouldn't be correct in my case, as the Phonetic Reversal from Made/Maid would be the latin diem.
    – Eldroß
    Dec 1, 2010 at 16:53

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