VANCOUVER – When six-year-old Levi Budd saw the word stop on a sign, he created the word pots. Before long, he was imagining words backwards and coming up with rats from star and pets from step.
The inquisitive word lover had just one question for his mom that day in January, when the two were in the car and he turned stop into pots: “What do we call a word that spells another word backwards?”
His mom and dad, Jessy Friedenberg and Lucky Budd, discovered there’s no word defining such flipped words so Levi decided he better invent one: levidrome, which he told his parents explains why spit is tips and spoons are snoops.
Lucky Budd said his son started reading at age three and by four knew that the word palindrome means a word reads the same spelled forward and backward, like racecar.
Budd, a historian and author of nine books, has proposed levidrome, pronounced lev-ih-drome, to dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster.
Merriam-Webster explained to Budd that a word must be in common use before it’s accepted though levidrome has already been added to its open-source dictionary of user-submitted words and the online Urban Dictionary.
A YouTube video Budd posted about five weeks ago to explain his son’s levidrome fixation has created buzz among students across the country and has also won support from actor and “Star Trek” veteran William Shatner, whose recent tweet had him appealing to the Oxford Dictionary to include Levi’s “exciting word.”
Actress Patricia Arquette has also tweeted her support, saying: “Such a cool idea.”
Budd said he’s thrilled that people are talking about words, and that’s the most gratifying part of the levidrome experience so far.
“I’ve got schools in Ottawa, and schools in Toronto and Calgary and libraries all getting in touch with me with their boards of palindromes and levidromes. And that’s actually what it’s all about. It’s really exciting.”
His aim is to model initiative to his son by taking action on an idea.
“If you have a good idea, go for it. You never know what’s going to happen. Whether it makes it into the dictionary or not, at this point the journey of just doing it and how many people have found inspiration is just amazing.”
Levi, who was celebrating the loss of his first tooth on Monday, loves reading to his four-year-old sister Emma, who’s more into gymnastics and dancing than words, Budd said.
He said his son is an extrovert who aims to be an actor though he’s too young to be directly in the spotlight to discuss his love of levidromes and the excitement that it has generated.
“Most days when we go to school Levi walks by a crosswalk and the principal of the school stands there with a stop sign welcoming the kids. She always says to him, ‘You got any good levidromes for me today?’ The other day he said, ‘Yeah, I got stressed and desserts. And drawer and reward.'”
Levi’s self-esteem has been boosted by kids who are also having fun flipping words and spreading the word on levidrome, Budd said.
“Today he came up with orb from bro. I guess he saw me write bro to somebody.”
— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.