The Prime Ministers, More or Less
Puder, Jim, Word Ways
The names of the American presidents have been transposed in various ways in at least three Word Ways articles, but to my knowledge no such attention has heretofore been accorded the names of their British counterparts, the prime ministers. To address this oversight, offered below is a table of metatransposals (i.e., transdeletions and transadditions) of British prime ministerial surnames similar to the one for the surnames of U.S. presidents offered in my August 1998 article, "The Presidents, More or Less."
If one begins the count with Robert Walpole--generally considered to have been the first true prime minister--51 individuals have now held that post. Subtracting one of the two Grenvilles in the list leaves a total of 50 different "surnames" for the table. (There is only one Pitt in it, as the elder Pitt is listed as the Earl of Chatham.) A complication with this group is that prior to the twentieth century, most prime ministers bore titles of nobility (often as a conferred honor) by which they were more often better known during their prime ministerships than by their personal names. In deciding which names, titular or personal, to use in the table, I have followed the listing of prime ministers given in Kenneth O. Morgan's The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain.
Here are my vocabulary rules: To be eligible for the table, a word or phrase must be a boldface entry in a major dictionary, or a reasonable inflection of such an entry. Not acceptable are words that are the plurals, inflections, or derivatives of an untransposed base name (thatchers, northern, vice-chamberlain, majority, lawyer, etc.). Also excluded, mainly for esthetic reasons, are proper nouns, transdeletions that delete more than a third of the letters in the base name, and transadditions that add more letters than there are letters in the base name.
In the following, all less-than-optimal metatransposals--those that add or subtract more than one letter-are shown in italics, with the number of letters added or subtracted indicated in parentheses. W3 = Webster's Third; W2 = Webster's Second. Prime Minister Transdeletion Transaddition Walpole wallop walloper W3 Wilmington twinling (2) W2# world-animating (4) W2# Pelham maple helpmate (2) W3# Newcastle cleanest sweet archangel (4) W3# Devonshire overshine W3 devil's-grandmother (7) W3# Bute tub tuber Grenville reveling revellings Rockingham charming (2)# knight commander (S) W3# Chatham match (2)# hatchman W3 Grafton forgat W3 frontage North horn thorny Shelburne busheler W3 double-strength …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Prime Ministers, More or Less. Contributors: Puder, Jim - Author. Magazine title: Word Ways. Volume: 38. Issue: 1 Publication date: February 2005. Page number: 62+. © 2009 Jeremiah Farrell. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.