Here is a list of different types of words and phrases that may spark ideas for puzzle development.
- autological word
- word ladder
A name created by spelling another name backwards. Examples: Harpo Productions (Oprah Winfrey's media company), the Castlevania villain Alucard (Dracula spelled backwards). See also semordnilap.
A word formed using individual letters or sounds from a longer description. Examples: SCUBA for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, or RADAR for RAdio Detection And Ranging. Compare with initialism.
A word that is the opposite of another word. Examples: BIG is an antonym of SMALL. NEAR is an antonym of FAR.
A word that describes itself. Also autological word. Examples: POLYSYLLABIC, WORD, PRONOUNCEABLE.
An acronym assigned to a word long after it has been coined, usually to (incorrectly) explain its origin, or for humourous purposes. Examples: FUCK = Force Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, TAG = Touch And Go.
A word that can be capitalized to change its meaning (and sometimes pronunciation). Examples: China and china, Polish and polish.
A word that is its own opposite. Also auto-antonym. Examples: EXECUTE can mean to start something (as a plan), or to end it (as a person). LEFT can mean departed, or remaining.
A word that has one spelling, but different pronunciations and meanings. Examples: BOW (of a ship) and BOW (tie), DOES (acts) and DOES (female deer).
A word that is spelled the same as another word, but has a different meaning. Examples: DOWN (bird feathers/direction), PRIDE (confidence/a group of lions). See also: homonym.
A word that is pronounced the same as another word, but has a different meaning (regardless of spelling). Examples: HEIR and AIR, TWO and TOO. See also: homograph.
A word comprised of the initials of a longer description where each letter is pronounced individually. Examples: FBI, HTML. Compare with acronym.
A phrase where a certain letter or set of letters is deliberately omitted. Example: The phrase "John took two plums, just as Mom told him not to" does not contain the letter "e." Compare with univocalic.
A word used in a phrase where something represents a larger concept or idea to which it is closely related. Examples: "The pen is mightier than the sword" (the written word is mightier than violence or war), "Give me a hand" (give me some assistance). Similar but distinct from synecdoche.
A recently-coined word or phrase, or a new usage of an established word or phrase.
A word that imitates a sound. Examples: BANG, CRASH, VROOM.
A word or phrase that is spelled the same way forwards as backwards. Examples: RACECAR, DO GEESE SEE GOD? See also: semordnilap.
A word that appears to mean one thing, but actually means something quite different (or even the opposite). Examples: ENERVATED means weakened, not energized. INFLAMMABLE means flammable, not incombustible.
A word that spells a different word when read backwards. ("Semordnilap" is "palindromes" spelled backwards.) Examples: BAG<->GAB, RAT<->TAR. See also: palindrome.
A neologism derived from the fact that the Inuit have many words for snow, a snowclone is a phrasal template that journalists overuse to the point of cliché. Examples: X is the new Y, X-gate (from "Watergate," the -gate suffix being applied to any and every scandal).
A word or phrase for part of something that is used to represent the whole thing. Examples: "wheels" referring to an entire vehicle, or "mouths to feed" referring to hungry people.
A word with the same meaning as another word, but with a different spelling. Example: HUGE and GIGANTIC.
A phrase deliberately written to use only one vowel. Example: A poem by C.C. Bombaugh begins "No monk too good to rob, or cog or plot. / No fool so gross to bolt Scotch collops hot." See also lipogram.
A word game invented by Lewis Carroll (of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland fame) where the goal is to move from one word to another by a series of one-letter transformations, where each transformation must produce a valid word. Example: SAIL to RUIN can be accomplished like so: SAIL->RAIL->RAIN->RUIN.