Animals

Take a Leap into Kangaroo Words


Have you ever heard of a “kangaroo word”? You may not recognize the term, but you use kangaroo words all the time. Just as an adult kangaroo carries a joey around in a pouch, a kangaroo word carries smaller words within itself.

Some kangaroo words contain joeys that bear a similarity to the parent. For example, you can find a “lump” in a “clump,” and a person who is “crude” can generally be counted on to be “rude” as well. When you “select” an item, you have to “elect” which item you will take.

Other kangaroo words seem to contain appropriate modifiers within themselves. Whether you are talking about the “evil” “devil” or a “pirate” who is “irate,” there is a certain natural connection that exists between the mother word and its offspring.

Such is not always the case. Some kangaroo words produce opposites. You may delight in receiving a “bonus,” but you will find an “onus” less enjoyable. Rarely will you find much “laughter” in a “slaughter.” That which is “yours” cannot simultaneously be “ours,” just as a “she” cannot also be a “he.”

Once you recognize the concept of kangaroo words, you will see them all over the place. You will see a “bearded” “bear,” an “eagle” soaring over a “beagle,” or even the “scat” of a “cat” on a “shrewd” “shrew.”

It is especially enjoyable to find a kangaroo word with multiple joeys. The word “therein,” for example, has only 7 letters, but it contains no fewer than 10 offspring: “the,” “there,” “he,” “in,” “re,” “rein,” “her,” “here”, “ere,” and “herein.”

The only rule in finding kangaroo words is that the letters have to remain in the same sequence as they appear in the original word. You can, therefore, start with a word such as “contaminate” and remove letters throughout to be left with an offspring word: c o n T A m I N a T e = “taint.”

If you find yourself stuck at home, longing to see some wildlife, pull out your dictionary. You may not be able to see actual animals, but you may find “joy” in a “joey.” Invite your family to join in the fun as you “thoroughly” and “roughly” “deliberate” and “debate” “over” your “discoveries.”


Read more fun facts about words.

Read more fun facts about languages.

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