12 unusual words that describe words

You’ve heard of acronyms and euphemisms, but do you know about ananyms and charactonyms? Both are real words with real-world applications.

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Below are some of my favorite words about words and examples of their use.

Ananym – A type of anagram, formed by reversing letters of another word. For example, an “emirp” is a prime number that results in a different prime number when its digits are reversed.

Antiphrasis – The humorous or ironic use of a word or phrase in a way that’s contrary to its normal meaning. For example, naming a Chihuahua Goliath or calling a bald man Curly.

Antonomasia — The substitution of a personal name for a common noun to describe a member of a group. Examples include calling an office worker “Dilbert” or a traitor a “Benedict Arnold.”

Backronym — A backward acronym, constructed by taking an existing word and creating a new phrase using the letters in the word. For example, the rating system used to assess newborns—the Apgar score—was devised and named after Virginia Apgar. Ten years later, the backronym APGAR was introduced as a mnemonic aid: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration.

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