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BORED? Play our free word gamesINTERACTIVE HANGMAN

by Mike Keith

Did you know that guitar legend ERIC CLAPTON is a NARCOLEPTIC? Or that pop singer BRITNEY SPEARS is a member of the PRESBYTERIANS? Or that actress MEG RYAN hails from GERMANY? Well, actually, such observations are only true logologically: these are examples of famous people whose combined first and last names can be anagrammed into a single English word.

In addition to these three examples, which are fairly well-known among celebrity-one-word-anagram fans, here are a few more that have appeared in print. Most of these were published in The Enigma; a few were collected via e-mail correspondence.

Al Goregaoler(US Vice President)
Tom Cruisecostumier(actor)
Ed Asnerendears(actor)
Sal Mineosemolina(actor)
Sid Caesarascarides(comedian)
Liam Bradyadmirably(Irish footballer)
Tim Russtruisms(Star Trek actor)
Al Greengeneral, enlarge, etc.(singer)
Donna Riceordinance(remember Gary Hart?)
Roger Daltreyretrogradely("The Who" singer)

(All single words in this article can be found in Webster's Third Unabridged.)

Also well-known but still remarkable is 1970s baseball player Al Kaline, whose name becomes a word (alkaline) by simply joining the parts with no rearrangement.

Inspired by these, I set out – with some computer assistance – to find additional examples of this genre. We can distinguish between two kinds: those that are just transposals, with little or no semantic connection between the word and the celebrity, and those that have some flavor of the true anagram (i.e., with some appositeness between the word and the person).

First, some plain transposals:

Art AragonTarragona(actor)
Lance Burtoncontubernal(Vegas magician)
Dean Caincanadine(actor)
Elias Canettiinelasticate(writer; Nobel,1981)
Peter Casetreescape(rock musician)
Michael Coatsmachicolates(American astronaut)
Erin Graygrainery(actress)
Ted Graytragedy(50s baseball player)
Corey Haimcherimoya(actor)
Tess Harperspheraster(actress)
Ian Holmhominal(actor)
Tom Landrymordantly(Dallas Cowboys coach)
Don LarsenNorseland(baseball pitcher)
Brenda Leereenabled(singer)
Stan Leeleanest(comic book legend)
Ron NecciaiCiceronian(minor-league pitcher)
Carre Otiscrostarie(model)
Carol Potterprotectoral(actress)
Paul Reubensunsuperable(Pee-Wee Herman)
Rita Severarrestive(NBC TV host)
Ken Stablerblanketers(American footballer)
Rise Stevensrestiveness(50s singer)
Marty Allenmaternally(comic)
Pearl Buckparbuckle(writer)
Ned Glassgladness(actor)
Marty Ingelsstreamingly(actor)
Mark Lenardlandmarker(Star Trek actor)
Anita MorrisRotarianism(actress/dancer)
Carl WilsonCornwallis(Beach Boy)
Ben Gouldbludgeon(actor)
Carl Mathieurheumatical(actor/composer)
Carlos Eastescalators(actor)
Dennis Coledeclension(actor)
Eric Cantonacanceration(actor [and footballer])
Gerry Marsdengerrymanders(60s rocker)
Ingrid Steegerderegistering(German actress)
Lou Reedurodele(poet, singer)
Martin Goregerminator(Depeche Mode-r)
Paul Le Matampullate(actor)
Malin Ekmanlike(Swedish actress)
Peter Sandsdepressant(British actor)
Anne Ricenarceine(writer)

Of course, the meaning of "celebrity" is somewhat subjective, but I tried to stick with people that are at least well-known in their field. For instance, you may not have heard of Ron Necciai, but die-hard baseball fans know him as holding the all-time record for the most number of strikeouts in a professional game (27).

And now a few celebrity anagrams, in which the word is at least partially related to the person involved:

Travis Leeversatile(Arizona baseball player)
Eddie Albertdeliberated(actor)
Robert Aldabardolater(actor)
Brad Rowewardrobe(actor)
Lisa Loebisolable(singer/songwriter)
Tim Russertmistruster("Meet the Press" host)
Art Rochesterorchestrater(Hollywood sound man)
Cass Elliotoscillates(singer)
Steve Irwininterviews(Animal Planet host)

At least we hope that Robert Alda did some Shakespeare at some point in his career! Note that Art Rochester's very apt anagram uses the alternative –er spelling (still in Web3, though). Of these, the last three are quite remarkably appropriate.

The longest one-word celebrity anagrams we have encountered are 13 letters in length (a tie between Britney Spears, Eddie Charlton, and Ingrid Steeger). Word Ways readers are challenged to try and beat this record.

If we drop the (somewhat fuzzy and subjective) "celebrity" requirement, and just use the names of ordinary but real people, how much better can be done? The longest we were able to find is Carolyn McAlister (16 letters), a transposal of the boldface Web3 word MACROCRYSTALLINE. The best 17-letter near miss I came across is Herbert Eisenstadt (BITTERHEARTEDNESS - a reasonable coinage, but not in Web3 or OED). That both of these people actually exist is attested to by the Yahoo yellow pages directory (http://people.yahoo.com). My ordinary-people search was fairly extensive but by no means exhaustive, so it is possible that these records can be bettered.

In the above article the abbreviations "Web3" and "OED" refer to the dictionaries "Webster's Third New International Dictionary" and "the Oxford English Dictionary" respectively.

© 2000 Ross Eckler (Editor, Word Ways).
This article appeared in Word Ways in 2000 and is reproduced with kind permission of the editor. We recommend visiting Wordways.com where you can subscribe to this quarterly journal of recreational linguistics.

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