Kangaroo word

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A kangaroo word is a word that contains letters of another word, in order, with the same meaning. For example: the word masculine contains the word male, which is a synonym of the first word; similarly, the word observe contains its synonym see.


The etymology of the phrase kangaroo word is from the fact that kangaroos carry their young (known as joeys) in a body pouch. Likewise, kangaroo words carry their joey words within themselves. Twin kangaroos are kangaroo words containing two joey words (for example: container features both tin and can). In contrast, an anti-kangaroo word is a word that contains its antonym; for example: covert carries overt, animosity carries amity.

Some compilers require that the letters of the joey word not be consecutive within the kangaroo word,[1][2] or that the kangaroo and joey words must be etymologically unrelated.[1]

Kangaroo words were originally popularized as a word game by Ben O'Dell in an article for The American Magazine, volume 151, during the 1950s. This was later reprinted in the Reader's Digest.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b D. Morice, The Dictionary of Wordplay, Teachers & Writers, 2001, ISBN 0-915924-99-4, retrieved by Google Books Search on 1 Dec, 2007
  2. ^ A Word A Day, retrieved 1 Dec 2007
  3. ^ Ben L. O'Dell, Kangaroo Words, The Reader's Digest volume 64, 1954, The Reader's Digest Association
  4. ^ The editors of the Reader's Digest, Test and Teasers, 1980, The Reader's Digest Association