What is it called when you can easily read scrambled words?

Perhaps you’ve received a widely circulated email that begins with this nonsensical sentence:

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.

The boggling thing about the sentence is that even though the words are scrambled, you can read it. It makes sense. Do you have an above average IQ? Or do you possess some rare cognitive ability?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but most English speakers can comprehend this sentence made of scrambled words. The neologism used to describe the ability to do so is typoglycemia. While the term is not yet in our dictionary sources, we find it fascinating enough to mention regardless.

Typoglycemia refers the ability to understand the meaning of words in a sentence as long as the exterior letters of each word are correct and all the letters of the word are present.

Typoglycemia neither refers to a medical condition, nor is it used by the medical community. It appears to be a portmanteau of “typo” and “glycemia,” (the presence of glucose in blood.)

There is no real connection between hypoglycemia and the phenomena of being able to read scrambled words. Hypoglycemia is an abnormally low level of glucose in the blood. It literally means “under-sweet blood.” The name is a pun.

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