Outside things like contractions (can't, won't) and word combinations (smoke + fog = smog), which take out letters wholesale, I'm looking for the phrase like an Orange, that seems to have started off as the Spanish: una naranja, and with a bit of change, where the "n" seems to have migrated from it to the beginning of the word to the "a" to make the English phrase "an aranja," which has been bastardized to make our spelling of orange.

Are there any other examples of this type of thing?

  • 2
    'Bastardized'? I think you mean, adapted to the English writing system. Anyway, it seems to have entered Middle English from Old French orenge so the adaptation wasn't as great as you suggest. Jul 3, 2016 at 1:34
  • I remember the German term Sandhi-Verschiebung for this phenomenon. The term is quite rare and I have not encountered an English equivalent or translation for it. Note that it can shift the word boundary in both dierections. Jul 4, 2016 at 9:37

2 Answers 2


There are many of these in English, in both directions: adder, apron were once 'nadder' and 'napron'. More examples and explanation on this Wikipedia page on 'Rebracketing', under 'Examples of false splitting' ('In English').

  • I knew it happened one way, but I find it fascinating it can happen both ways. Jul 2, 2016 at 22:20

There are some examples in different languages in Rebracketing in Wikipedia.

Incidentally, this has absolutely nothing to do with "letters". It happened, in probably every case, in the spoken language, and quite likely among people who were illiterate.

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