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Reverse dictionary

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A reverse dictionary is a dictionary alphabetized by the reversal of each entry:

kcots (stock)
kcotseid (diestock)
kcotser (restock)
kcotsevil (livestock)

Another variant alphabetizes by suffix.[citation needed]

Before computers, reverse dictionaries were tedious to produce. The first computer-produced was Stahl and Scavnicky's A Reverse Dictionary of the Spanish Language, in 1974.[1]


In a reverse word dictionary, the entries are alphabetized by the last letter first, then next to last, and so on.[1][2] In them, words with the same suffix appear together. This can be useful for linguists and poets looking for words ending with a particular suffix, or by an epigrapher or forensics specialist examining a damaged text (e.g. a stone inscription, or a burned document) that had only the final portion of a word. Reverse dictionaries of this type have been published for most major alphabetical languages.


Applications of reverse word dictionaries include:

  • Simple rhyming dictionaries, to the extent that spelling predicts pronunciation.
  • Finding words with a given suffix (i.e., meaningful ending), like -ment.
  • Finding words with the same ending as a given word, even if the sequence is not meaningful.
  • Setting or solving word puzzles, such as -gry or the earlier -dous puzzle (find words ending in some way), or crossword puzzles.


Reverse word dictionaries are straightforward to construct, by simply sorting based on reversed words. This was labor-intensive and tedious before computers, but is now straightforward. For example, using the Unix commands rev and sort allows the following one-liner program to produce a reverse dictionary of the file "dict":

rev < dict | sort | rev

By the same token, reverse dictionaries have become less important to the extent that online word lists can be searched dynamically.





  • Normal and Reverse Word List. Compiled under the direction of A. F. Brown at the University of Pennsylvania, under a contract with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AF 49 [638]-1042) Department of Linguistics, Philadelphia, 1963.
  • Lehnert, Martin, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch der englischen Gegenwartssprache, VEB Verlag Enzyklopädie, Leipzig, 1971.
  • McGovern, Una, Chambers back-words for crosswords: a reverse-sorted list, Chambers, Edinburgh, 2002
  • Muthmann, Gustav, Reverse English dictionary: based on phonological and morphological principles, Mouton de Gruyter, New York, 1999.
  • Walker, John, The rhyming dictionary of the English language: in which the whole language is arranged according to its terminations, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1983.

Other Languages


  • Hecker, Karl, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch des Akkadischen, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1990.


  • Těšitelová, Marie; Petr, Jan; Králík, Jan. Retrográdní slovník současné češtiny, Praha, Academia, 1986.


  • Nieuwborg, E.R., Retrograde woordenboek van de Nederlandse taal, Kluwer Technische Boeken, Deventer, 1978.


  • Hinderling, Robert, Rückläufiges estnisches Wörterbuch = Eesti keele pöördsõnaraamat (Sõnalõpuline leksikon) = Reverse dictionary of the Estonian language, Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät der Universität Bayreuth, Bayreuth, 1979.


  • Tuomi, Tuomo (ed.), Suomen kielen käänteissanakirja – Reverse Dictionary of Modern Standard Finnish, Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura, 1980. ISBN 951-717-002-5.


  • Juilland, A., Dictionnaire inverse de la langue française, Mouton, The Hague, 1965.


  • Bruckner, T., Rückläufige Wortliste zum heutigen Deutsch, Institut für Deutsche Sprache, Mannheim, 1986.
  • Mater, Erich, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch der deutschen Gegenwartssprache CD-ROM, Straelener Ms.-Verlag, Straelen, 2001 ISBN 3-89107-047-0
  • Muthmann, Gustav, Rückläufiges deutsches Wörterbuch: Handbuch der Wortausgänge im Deutschen, mit Beachtung der Wort- und Lautstruktur, Niemeyer, Tübingen, 2001.

Greek, modern

  • Αναστασιάδη-Συμεωνίδη, Α. Αντίστροφο Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής. Θεσσαλονίκη: Ινστιτούτο Νεοελληνικών Σπουδών, 2002.
  • Κουρμούλης Γ. Αντίστροφον λεξικόν της Νέας Ελληνικής. Δεύτερη Έκδοση. Αθήνα: Παπαδήμας, 2002.


  • Kuhn, Karl Georg, Rückläufiges hebräisches Wörterbuch, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1958

Hebrew and Aramaic

  • Sander, Ruth and Kerstin Mayerhofer, Retrograde Hebrew and Aramaic dictionary, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 2010. ISBN 978-3-525-55007-6


  • Papp, Ferenc, A magyar nyelv szóvégmutató szótára [Reverse-alphabetized dictionary of the Hungarian language]. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1969, 2nd ed.: 1994. ISBN 9630567326

Indian, old

  • Schwarz, Wolfgang, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch des Altindischen = Reverse index of old Indian, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1974-1978.


  • Alinei, M.L., Dizionario inverso italiano, con indici e liste di frequenza delle terminazioni, Mouton & Co., The Hague 1965.


  • Gradenwitz, Otto, Laterculi vocum latinarum, G. Olms, Hildesheim, 1966.



  • Rozycki, William, A reverse index of Manchu, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1981.


  • Krueger, John Richard, Mongolian epigraphical dictionary in reverse listing, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1967.
  • Vietze, Hans Peter, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch der mongolischen Sprache, Verlag Enzyklopädie, Leipzig, 1976.



  • Garabík, Radovan et al., Retrográdny slovník súčasnej slovenčiny – slovné tvary na báze Slovenského národného korpusu. VEDA, vydavateľstvo SAV, Bratislava, 2018 ISBN 978-80-224-1699-3.


  • Hajnšek-Holz, Milena and Primož Jakopin, Odzadnji slovar slovenskega jezika po Slovarju slovenskega knjižnega jezika, ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana, 1996.


  • Bosque, I., Pérez, M., Diccionario inverso de la lengua española, Gredos, Madrid, 1987.
  • Stahl, Fred A., Scavnicky, Gary E. A., A Reverse Dictionary of the Spanish Language, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL, 1974.


  • Kubiyak, Yel, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch des Türkischen, Landeck, Frankfurt, 2004.


  • Zimmer, Stefan, A reverse dictionary of modern Welsh = Geiriadur gwrthdroadol Cymraeg diweddar, Buske, Hamburg, 1987.

See also


  1. ^ a b Stahl, Fred A., Scavnicky, Gary E. A., A Reverse Dictionary of the Spanish Language, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL,1974.
  2. ^ Walker, John, The rhyming dictionary of the English language: in which the whole language is arranged according to its terminations ..., Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983.
This page was last edited on 2 December 2021, at 06:25
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