Can You Read the Word If We Give It to You Upside Down?

EDUCATION

Bambi Turner

7 Min Quiz

Image: olaser / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Forget the claims of dubious Facebook posts that promise people who can read upside down are geniuses. Yes, it's a fun idea, but it's just not based on any real research. But don't worry — the actual research on upside-down reading is way more interesting anyway. Turns out, reading words upside down significantly improves your memories of what you read, according to a 2011 study published in the "Psychonomic Bulletin and Review." 

Even better, inverted reading is a skill at which almost anyone can improve. This was revealed in a 2014 study that found people improved upside-down reading speed by 35 words per minute over 10 weeks by merely practicing this technique for 90 minutes a week. Do you want to know what's even more fascinating? Turning a book over before reading improved reading speed and comprehension for 60% of troubled readers — those with poor reading skills or learning disabilities — according to a 1984 study published in the "Annals of Dyslexia."

Ready to see if you've got what it takes to master reading words that have been turned on their heads? Find out with this quiz!

Got a car? It'll last longer if you make sure to do what this bottom-side-up word is telling you to do.

Follow the advice in this inverted work and maintain the things you own, especially your car. Following the guidance in your owner's manual — you know, that book hidden under a pile of napkins in your glove compartment — to keep the wheels turning.

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Trust us, you wouldn't mind finding one of these, but first, you have to figure out what this word says. Do you think you can read it?

The word you see here written upside down is nugget, as in the gold nuggets still buried in dirt and rock all over the world. Do you need inspiration to get to mining? In 1869, miners in Australia found the largest gold nugget in history. Weighing in at 173 pounds, it was melted down in the 20th century. Another mega-sized hunk of gold found in Brazil in 1983 weighs in at 134 pounds and is currently the largest gold nugget known to exist.

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You don't need an anatomy lesson to translate this word that is turned on its head. Do you know what it is?

In our favorite kids' song, the word upended in this question falls right after head and shoulders and right before toes. Yup, it's knees. The bone covering this bending body part is the patella, not to be confused with paella, which is a delicious rice dish.

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Are you ready to take a guess at what these flipped over letters say? Do your best, but remember, nobody's perfect.

That word turned vice-versa is flawed, as in flawed hero. Need an example? Think no further than the flawed heroes at the heart of famous Shakespearean plays, like the impulsive Romeo, indecisive Hamlet and murderously ambitious Macbeth.

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What is this upside-down word, which was once used to describe both Heidi Fleiss and Deborah Jeane Palfrey?

Not only is the word madam a palindrome — a word that is the same whether it's written backward or forward — but it also refers to two infamous women. Heidi Fleiss made headlines running an escort service for the rich and famous, while Deborah Jeane Palfrey was dubbed the "D.C. Madam" for managing a similar service in Washington, D.C.

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Have a sip of your favorite beverage before trying to figure out the overturned word shown here. Do you recognize it?

Hopefully, a refreshing drink was all you needed to help you see that this word is bottled. Speaking of bottled, did you know that people around the world buy 1 million bottles of water every minute and that more than 90% aren't recycled? When it comes to things that are bottled in your own life, consider investing in a reusable beverage container rather than those disposable ones you see everywhere.

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Don't be afraid! Pull the covers away from your face and try to guess this flip-flopped word.

You don't have to rotate your monitor to see that this word is dark. While many people are afraid of the dark, you should know that 95% of the entire universe consists of mysterious dark matter and dark energy. This might be a good time to embrace that lack of light, huh?

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The text you see here describes what the letters themselves have done. Do you know what it says?

These letters have flipped, which is what this upside-down word says. While this quiz only flips the letters over, some forms of word puzzles might also mirror the letters, ordering them from right to left rather than the left to right technique you're used to seeing. This mirror writing was popular with artist and scholar Leonardo da Vinci, who left behind thousands of tough-to-read texts.

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Pirate pets can read this word, but can you?

Hey, bird is the word! While the stereotypical pirate carries a parrot on his shoulder, this brightly-colored critter isn't necessarily the most impressive bird species out there. Ostriches, for example, might make your jaw drop in surprise. Not only are these flightless birds bigger than a grown man, but they can sprint as fast as 40 mph. That's a 90-second mile!

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Are you perplexed by this word that's written on its head? Don't be confused, baffled, or bewildered. Take a closer look and guess what it says!

The word is puzzled, but we bet you aren't puzzled any longer trying to figure it out! The first jigsaw puzzles were produced in the 1760s by gluing maps onto wood and then cutting the wood into pieces?

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The inverted word shown here is also the title of a song by John Lennon. Do you know what it says?

Recorded in 1971, John Lennon's "Imagine" — which is the overturned word in this image — became the former Beatles' biggest solo hit. In a 1980 interview, Lennon said the song was inspired by a 1964 book of poetry by "Yoko Ono," and that she should have been given writing credit on the tune from the beginning.

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Try to read this word that has been written in an unexpected way. Hint: It shares its name with a kids' game!

It may be written upside down, but those with minds like elephants can see that this word is memory. Did you know that you not only have long and short-term memories but also explicit and implicit ones? Explicit memories are things like your phone number or a friend's face, while implicit ones are experiences, such as riding a bike or balancing on one foot.

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What word is shown in this image? Hint: "Eragon" was about one of these.

Saphira from "Eragon," Drogon from "Game of Thrones" and that "Hungarian Horntail" from the Harry Potter franchise. Yup, they're all dragons, just like the word shown upside down in this question.

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When you need a break from the rides at the county fair, you head to the spot shown in this image. Can you read it?

The word is midway, as in that area at the fair where game attendants try to get you to try your luck. It's also the name of a key battle in WWII, during which the U.S. Navy defeated Japanese forces at a tiny atoll in the Pacific.

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We think you can; we think you can guess this word that has been tipped over! Do you think you can?

OK, "Little Engine That Could" fans, a close examination reveals that this upside-down word is railroad. Did you know that 1869 was a huge moment in railroad history for the U.S., as a golden spike driven into the ground at Promontory, Utah, marked the completion of a Transcontinental Railroad spanning the nation from east to west?

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Put on your thinking antlers for extra help in deciphering this overturned word.

The word shown here is deer, as in an antlered critter, and not in the vein of "Dear Abby." While there are more than 60 species of deer on Earth, one of the weirdest is the Chinese water deer, which has no antlers but does have insanely long canine teeth that would make any vampire jealous.

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Without craning your neck, can you puzzle out this word written in an unfamiliar way?

Flipping these letters right-side up reveals the word, based, as in, there are a whole lot of tech companies based in Silicon Valley in northern California. The list of companies based is this tech mecca just south of San Francisco includes Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Intel and many other global players in computing and technology.

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Sure, the letters have been tipped on their heads, but can you still make out this word? Warning! You might need your umbrella.

The sun will come out tomorrow even if it rained today, as in the cloud-spilling word shown here. And if you think it rains a lot where you live, be glad you're nowhere near Puerto Lopez, Colombia. This city, which can be found at the base of the Andes, is one of the rainiest on Earth. It gets as many as 500 inches of rainfall each year.

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If we tell you it's Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman's favorite subject, could you decipher this inverted word?

You are right on the money if you guessed this word is another term for cold, hard cash! Speaking of moolah, paper money in the U.S. is made from cotton fibers, and it contains no wood pulp? That means you can spend away without worrying about all the trees you're sacrificing.

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There's a reason the men who fought at the Battle of the Alamo are so revered. If you know what they accomplished, we bet you can decipher this word.

This word is defended, and it looms large in war stories, one in particular. You've probably heard the phrase "Remember the Alamo!" But do you know why everyone is so intent on helping to spread the story of this tiny Texas mission? It turns out, a small group of soldiers held off a huge Mexican Army for two weeks in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. Their bravery changed the direction of the war, and Texas soon won independence from Mexico.

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Make sure you know where the first aid kit is before trying to guess this word that's written bottom side up.

Those flipped over letters that you see spell the word wound, as in a simple scrape, cut or even a more serious skin injury. While good old-fashioned bandages can take care of most wounds, anyone with burns or wounds that won't heal might benefit from cutting-edge smart dressings, which use sensors to monitor an injury then send data about the wound wirelessly to care providers.

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We've got a whopper of a tale for you, but first take a shot at reading this word that's facing the wrong direction.

If you guessed this tumbled-over word is reeled, then you've landed a significant point on this question! Fun fact: The largest fish ever reeled in was a white shark caught off the coast of Australia in 1959. It weighed in at 2,664 pounds. In terms of non-sharks, the most brag-worthy catch so far has been a black marlin caught in Peru in 1969. This massive catch which weighed 1,560 pounds.

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Buckle up and hold on tight before you take a guess at this upside down term.

This word is driven, as in ultra-motivated, or in the purest sense, what you may have done with a car. In a 2018 movie titled "Driven," actor Lee Pace plays John DeLorean, maker of that car-turned-time-machine seen in "Back to the Future."

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When Susan Boyle surprised everyone with that "Britain's Got Talent" audition in 2009, this word was in the title of her song. Can you read it?

This word is dreamed, as in Susan Boyle's choice of "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables" for her epic "Britain's Got Talent" audition. And in case you were wondering, both dreamed and dreamt are equally correct when referring to the past tense of dreaming, according to Merriam-Webster.

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If you can't read this word, try counting sheep first, then give it another shot.

Napping can make you more alert and productive, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But keep those naps to less than 30 minutes to avoid insomnia at night. While humans are rare among mammals because we are monophasic sleepers — meaning we pretty much only sleep for one long period in every 24 hours — the majority of mammals are polyphasic, which means they routinely take naps.

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Decipher this inverted text to discover a material used in crafting jewelry.

Your mind is like a steel trap if you could tell this word says metal. While metal is used to make many objects, its role in history is so significant that we name entire eras after materials made from different types of metals. For example, there's the Bronze Age, during which man learned to mix copper and tin to make bronze tools between 3,000 and 1,200 BC. It was followed by the Iron Age, during which humans began using iron or melting it with carbon to make steel.

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When you hear this word, it's probably in the context of weather or food. Even though it's upside down, can you read it?

When it's not quite raining hard enough to call it a downpour, you might use the word drizzle, which is what this turned over word says. Drizzling is also a technique used in cooking, such as drizzling olive oil over a plate of tomatoes and mozzarella, or drizzling gooey hot fudge over an ice cream sundae.

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ROYGBIV could probably give you a hint to this upside-down term. Do you know what it is?

The "Y" in ROYGBIV, a memory device used for recalling the order of colors in the rainbow, stands for yellow — the inverted word shown in this question. Of course, you might have another way of remembering the colors of the spectrum, such as the Bible-inspired "Read Out Your Good Book In Verse."

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Think fast if you want to guess the word shown in this image!

Only the zippiest upside down readers can easily decipher this word as speeded. Speaking of speed, did you know that Germany's Autobahn has no official speed limit? You can also put the pedal to the metal on the Isle of Man. Are you looking to hit the gas in the U.S.? The highest speed limit can be found on a stretch of Route 130 in Texas, where 85 mph is the posted speed.

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It's a guitar part or a type of ride, but can you tell what this word is, even though it's inverted?

The word you see inverted in this question is pickup. Fun fact: The pickup truck, rather than a sedan or SUV, is the bestselling vehicle in the United States. The Ford F-150 has outsold every U.S. car model since its 1975 release and has continued to top the list of most popular American vehicles for more than 40 years.

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A horse is a horse, of course, but what does the upside-down word in this image say?

You have got to believe in magic just a little if you managed to decipher this word as unicorn, but if you think unicorns are all myth and fantasy, think again. Scientists analyzing fossils of an ancient species called E. sibiricum in 2018 were surprised to find that this "Siberian unicorn" walked the Earth 30,000 years ago. Resembling a furry rhino with a massive, prominent horn on its forehead, it's easy to see why it was the unicorn of its time.

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Do you know what this bottoms-up word says? It's black and white, but not red all over.

You must be an animal lover or a seriously good reader if you could tell that this word is panda. Pandas, known for their gentle nature and black and white coloring, are found only in small areas of China. Fewer than 3,000 remain in the wild, and each of these creatures chows down on 20 to 30 pounds of bamboo every day.

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If we tell you this word is an element with the atomic number 28, could you guess it without standing on your head?

You can get 20 of these for a dollar, but there's just one nickel shown upended in this question. If you're used to seeing the U.S. 5 cent coin with Thomas Jefferson's face on the front, you may be surprised to learn that the U.S. had an entirely different nickel design from 1913 through 1938. The design with a buffalo on one side and the profile of an "Indian" on the other was discontinued after about 25 years because they wore down very easily.

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Take a deep breath and see if you can guess this word, which refers to a fun and colorful object.

Even upside down, that double "o" and double "n" combo can only be the word balloon! If you happen to be a fan of these colorful party decorations, be warned! The helium used to make balloons float is getting more difficult and expensive to extract from the Earth, so plan on blowing up more of balloons yourself in the future.

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Don't put up your defenses! Relax and use your deductive skills to figure out this inverted word.

The weirdly-written word you see here is walled, as in walled city. Kowloon City is one of the most infamous examples of this design, with as many as 50,000 people living in an enclosed, lawless area of Hong Kong. At 3.25 million people per square mile, it was the most densely packed area on Earth before it was demolished in the '90s. For a still-standing example of a walled city, check out the picturesque Quebec City in eastern Canada.

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We would be astounded, astonished and amazed if you can read this overturned word. Do you know what it says?

This word is wow, as in an exclamation of amazement. It also has an out of this world connection. In 1977, researchers on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project, recorded a 72-second signal sent from deep in the cosmos. Known as the Wow Signal, it's the most compelling evidence ever found that suggests there might be other life forms in the universe.

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It would be totally "out of this world" if you could read the upside-down word shown here. Do you know what it says?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this topsy-turvy word is alien. But are aliens out they out there someone? Well, NASA estimates there are 200 billion galaxies in just the tiny portion of the universe we can actually observe, so odds are, intelligent life exists beyond the boundaries of Earth.

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If we tell you that this word describes the feet of a duck, would that make it easier to guess the right answer?

The word is webbed. Watch out for those "b"s and "d"s! The word refers to the feet of aquatic animals, where toes are fused to propel the creature through the water. You probably know that ducks have this feature. But did you know it can also be found on some birds, frogs and even kangaroos?

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We'll give you exactly 12 guesses to decipher this turned over word. OK, maybe 13 if you like to bake.

This word is dozen, which typically refers to a count of 12 items. Well, unless you're talking about a baker's dozen, in which case, the count increases to 13. Have you ever wondered where this term originated? Well, It turns out, medieval bakers faced severe penalties for short-changing shoppers, so many threw in an extra roll or loaf of bread in each order to stay out of trouble with the law.

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You don't need to use your head for this one, but another body part might help you figure it out. What is this word?

If you're the romantic type, you probably guessed that this unusually-written word is heart. In humans, the heart is roughly the size of your fist and beats more than 100,000 times a day. It weighs in at under a pound — unless you're a blue whale, of course, because their massive hearts weigh in at 1,500 pounds or more!

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