Books: The Mot Juste

BERNSTEIN'S REVERSE DICTIONARY by THEODORE M. BERNSTEIN 277 pages. Quadrangle. $10.

One evening Theodore Bernstein, consulting editor of the New York Times and for years its linguistic policeman, was trying to think of the term for a sentence or word that reads the same both backward and forward, as in "Madam, I'm Adam." It came to him the next morning (palindrome), and with it the inspiration for this book—a reverse dictionary that alphabetically lists an array of meanings and then retrieves the word that has momentarily disappeared into the outer fog banks of the...

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