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A reverse dictionary is a dictionary organized in a non-standard (i.e., non-alphabetical) order that provides the user with information that would be difficult to obtain from a traditional alphabetized dictionary. For example, A Reverse Dictionary of the Spanish Language[1] and Walker's Rhyming Dictionary[2] are reverse dictionaries, the organization of which is based upon sorting each word based upon its last letter and subsequent letters proceeding toward the beginning of that word. Consequently, in this reverse dictionary all words that have the same suffix appear in order in the dictionary. Such a reverse dictionary would be useful for linguists and poets who might be looking for words ending with a particular suffix, and where a damaged text (e.g. a stone inscription) had only the final portion of a word preserved. Reverse dictionaries of this type have been published for most major alphabetic languages. By way of contrast, in a standard dictionary words are organized such that words with the same prefix appear in order.

Another type of reverse dictionary is one organized based on concepts, phrases, or the definition of a word. This is in contrast to a standard dictionary, in which words are indexed by headword. The Diccionario Ideológico de la Lengua Española (Spanish Language Ideological Dictionary)[3] is an example of a reverse dictionary that allows the user to find words based on general concepts.

Word-based reverse dictionaries


  • Brown, A. F., Normal and reverse English word list, University of Pennsylvania.
  • 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)

  • Alinei, M.L., Dizionario inverso italiano, con indici e liste di frequenza delle terminazioni, Mouton & Co., The Hague 1965.
  • Bielfeldt, H.H., Rückläufiges Wörterbuch der Russischen Sprache der Gegenwart, Akademie erlag, Berlin, 1958.
  • Boaque, I., Pérez, M., Diccionario inverso de la lengua española, Gredos, Madrid, 1987.
  • Bruckner, T., Rückläufige Wortliste zum heutigen Deutsch, Institut für Deutsche Sprache, Mannheim, 1986.
  • Gradenwitz, Otto, Laterculi vocum latinarum, G. Olms, Hildesheim, 1966.
  • Hecker, Karl, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch des Akkadischen, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1990.
  • Hinderling, Robert, Rückläufiges estnisches Wörterbuch = Eesti keele pöördsõnaraamat (Sõnalõpuline leksikon) = Reverse dictionary of the Estonian language, Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät der Univerität Bayreuth, Bayreuth, 1979.
  • Juilland, A., Dictionnaire inverse de la langue française, Mouton, The Hague, 1965.
  • Krueger, John Richard, Mongolian epigraphical dictionary in reverse listing, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1967.
  • Kubiyak, Yel, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch des türkischen, Landeck, Frankfurt, 2004.
  • Kuhn, Karl Georg, Rückläufiges hebräisches Wörterbuch, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1958
  • Muthmann, Gustav, Rückläufiges deutsches Wörterbuch: Handbuch der Wortausgänge im Deutschen, mit Beachtung der Wort- und Lautstruktur, Niemeyer, Tübingen, 2001.
  • Nieuwborg, E.R., Retrograde woordenboek van de Nederlandse taal, Kluwer Technische Boeken, Deventer, 1978.
  • Rozycki, William, A reverse index of Manchu, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1981.
  • Schwarz, Wolfgang, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch des Altindischen = Reverse index of old Indian, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1974-1978.
  • Stahl, Fred A., Scavnicky, Gary E. A., A Reverse Dictionary of the Spanish Language, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL,1974
  • Vietze, Hans Peter, Rückläufiges Wörterbuch der mongolischen Sprache, Verlag Enzyklopädie, Leipzig, 1976.
  • Zimmer, Stefan, A reverse dictionary of modern Welsh = Geiriadur gwrthdroadol Cymraeg diweddar, Buske, Hamburg, 1987.

Definition-based reverse dictionaries


  • Bernstein, Theodore, Bernstein's Reverse Dictionary, Crown, New York, 1975.
  • Edmonds, David (ed.), The Oxford Reverse Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999.
  • Kahn, John, Reader's Digest Reverse Dictionary, Readder's Digest, London, 1989.


  1. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Casares Sánchez, Julio (ed.), Diccionario Ideológico de la Lengua Española, Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, 1943.


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