hat happens when a kid invents a word? Naturally, a legend of television takes on the cause, the whole thing goes viral, and Oxford Dictionary adds it to their "words to watch" list. OK, so this hasn't happened to any of the words my kids have invented, but they haven't cleverly discovered a real phenomenon that has no name like 6-year-old Levi Budd did.
If you have kids, then you know they ask questions. So many questions. Constantly.
Luckily, we have Google, Siri, and the good old dictionary at our disposal as parents. We look up facts and figures and definitions as our kids’ curiosity quickly outpaces the content of our brains. But what happens when there is no answer?
That's what happened to Jessy Friedenberg and Lucky Budd when their 6-year-old son asked them what it's called when a word spelled backwards makes a different word.
Levi Budd noticed the phenomenon when passing a stop sign. Stop spelled backwards is pots. What’s the word for that? Turns out, there isn’t one!
A word that is the same backwards and forwards is a palindrome.
Wow, noon, kayak, and refer are all palindromes. But there is no word for the fact that live backwards spells evil or mug backwards is gum. What do you do when there is no word for the thing you want a word for? Well, if you’re Levi Budd you invent one.
Levi named this phenomenon levidrome.
And why shouldn’t it be named after the kid who realized there was no name for this type of term? His father posted a video to YouTube about levidromes, and probably never imagined what happened next. People saw the video and were all on board with the new word.
And then, William Shatner happened.
Shatner reached out to Oxford Dictionary suggesting that the word be added to the dictionary. And then the story took off in a way that is uniquely Twitter-ish and modern and viral. And Shatner? Well, he’s invested in this word now.