This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Nuts and Bolts: isograms.

People love words.

I love them for their sound, their history, and the magical way they allow me to pass a thought from my head into someone else's.

Other people enjoy arranging them in categories.

You can group words that sound similar (long wrong pong,) or have linked meanings (sock shoe stocking,) or ones that are isograms (fang toe bleat).

So what's an isogram?

Well, an isogram is itself an isogram because it has the same number of each of its letters - one i, one s, one o, and so on. Tiger, bucket, finger and explain are isograms, too. In fact it isn't hard to write a whole phrase in the things. Like that one. And that one.

Subdermatoglyphic is also an isogram, if you want to swank (that example is from Making the Alphabet Dance, by Ross Eckler.).

Boob is an isogram, too, because it has two of every letter.

On the other hand, if you have better things to do with your time, an isogram is also a line on a chart, such as a contour line, joining points that have the same value for some quantity.

I suppose it's a question of what sort of a nerd you are, really.

Thing To Use Today: an isogram. The word-play meaning was coined by Dmitri Borgmann in Language on Vacation: An Olio of Orthographical Oddities (Scribner, 1965). It is said to be a blend of isolated and pangram. The map meaning comes from the Greek words isos equal and grammē, line.



  1. Ooo, I much prefer the word meaning to the line meaning!
    Call me nerd!

    1. I think with this word the favoured meaning might depend on which particular flavour of nerd each of us is.

      Hey, you could probably write a best-seller based on that sort of a test!