Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters – coincidence? - Deb Sofield (2023)

I find great joy every Sunday morning in listening to theNew York Timescrossword puzzle editor and NPR’s Puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Will is an American puzzle creator and editor, and I think it is fascinating that he is the only person known to hold a college degree in enigmatology (enigma tology),which is the study of puzzles. Who knew you could go to college for that?

Well, anyway, I play along when he presents the on-air quiz to one lucky contestant and then gives a challenge for those of uslisteningat home. Sometimes I can figure out the puzzle and sometimes I have no clue what the puzzle answer will be, and that’s when I’m glad that the NPR host helps the hapless player who is connected to the show by phone. A few weeks ago on the show, Will did a series of anagrams.

An anagram is when you rearrange letters to make different words, using the same letters. So the definition of the word Anagram(n.): a word, phrase, or sentence formed from another by rearranging its letters: “Angel” is an anagram of “glean.”

So when I was thinking about my show this week and what I wanted to work on, the word that kept coming to mind waslisten,and then it hit me thatlistenandsilentare an anagram; they have the same letters, but creating different words, and what is interesting is that these two words (in my opinion) have the same value when it comes to their true meaning.

Alfred Brendel has a famous poster that says, “Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters – coincidence? I don’t think so.”

I do find it interesting that those two words are so closely aligned, and when I came across this quote from Rachel Naomi Remen, it really hit home for me. She says this:

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention… A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.”

The power oflisteningis probably one of the most underrated skills we learn as kids. Everyone wants to talk and be heard, but it seems to me that so few know how to be silent and listen.

I love the quote that says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.”

Trust me, I’m talking to myself today as well as to you, because I think listening is a skill we all can all brush up on at any age in life and then give the gift of loving silence to others.

It seems so simple to stop and listen, but we know that it is not something most of us do well, so when you start listening and slow down on your constant chatter to your spouse, friends and family, they are not going to know what to do; in fact, they will look at you like something is wrong and then question your motives. So you’ve got to be ready to explain that you are working on yourlistening skillsand to understand all the informationthat theyare giving. It will take a few times for your spouse or friends to become comfortable with your new actions, but don’t worry, over time they will come to appreciate the fact you’re really trying to be a better listener, friend and confidant.

We all know that listening is important–that’s a given (even though we don’t do it or don’t do it well)–but let me give you three reasons why I think we all need to get to work on this wonderful and simple gift we can give to others.

  • — People need to know that their words matter
  • — They need to know that you listen and you hear them
  • — And they need to be assured that you’re listening without judgment.

Let me take them in that order.

People need to know that their words matter.

Every time I pick up a magazine, it seems the topic these days is about building stronger relationships in life, work or family. When you and I are silent and allow someone to have their say and we listen to themuntil they are done talking,it gives them a sense of completion.

Your gift of silence and allowing them to speak will, for the most part, settle a place in their soul, because it is obvious to them that their words matter. So, in turn, they matter, and isn’t that what everyone is searching for? A reassurance that they matter.

When someone speaks to you on a personal level, they need to feel that you care for them and that you care enough to value their words, which, in turn, for many equals your valuing their feelings, their emotions and their life.

Sometimes people just want to be heard, and they struggle to get the right words out to express their truth. You know how frustrating it is when you want to say something and the words don’t come, or you can’t think of the right word to use, but if you’ll just slow down and allow the brain to catch up with the mouth, the right words will come and what needs to be said will be. Friends, remember, most people simply want to know that they matter, and they express that need by the words they use. And then they wait for us to either accept or reject themby our use of words.We can, in a word, dismiss their feelings, belittle their emotion, or devalue their worth, if we’re not careful to understand that what they need from us is to know that their words matter.

People need to know that you listen and you hear them.

I speak a lot on the value of your words, because I see from my work that it is important for people to know that they are heard above the noise of life. You give a great gift when you are silent and allow others tospeak and be heard. And I say that because I hear a lot of people talking, yet no one is listening, and what we need to do is combine the two so that we speak and are heard. And if you were to ask me, I believe this issue of people not listening is what causes some of the greatest anger that we see and hear nowadays in the media, at work and in our own families.

It is important that we stop and pay attention to others when they speak, and when they know that you’re listening and that you hear every word they say, you give them a sense of self worth. By doing that one simple action, you’re giving that person a voice, and showing them that you listen and hear them, and that simple act will have a long-lasting impact on them.

It is not a far stretch to think that others just want to be heard, really, don’t we all? My guest a week ago, Steve Hall, said that his phrase of the week wasseek to understand. I have really thought about that since he mentioned it, because that simple action could change everything, and, in its simplicity, it proves value and provides a sense of worth and place when we seek to understand. By doing so, it becomes apparent that we arelistening and that we hearwhat is being said.

Perhaps that hardest part of listening is to do so without judgment.

Marc Chernoff says, “Most people don’t need your advice, they need your time and positive reinforcements. What they want to know is often already somewhere inside of them. They just need time to think, be and breathe, and continue to explore the undirected journeys that will eventually help them find their direction.”

We’re a nation addicted to advice–we like to give it and get it. Turn on your TV most any afternoon and someone is doling out advice on life, love, happiness, weight-loss, kids, in-laws and pets. And although that makes for entertaining TV, it doesn’t work in real life. I wonder if we really stopped to see the needs of our friends and family and co-workers, could we stop and just listen (without judgment) and allow them to find their way forward with us quietly or even silently encouraging them onward?

There is nothing more damaging than to rush to judgment, when all someone needed or wanted or hoped for was a little space of silence to findtheirvoice; to hear it clearly, as they work out their plan for their life at that moment.

If we did our part of listening without judgment and allow others to “talk it out”,I think we’d be the blessing that so many need today, because, in the comfort of friends and the safety of companionship, the respect we give others will let those we love know that their words matter, that we are listening and we hear them without judgment.

Thanks for reading. Ifyou have a friend who needs to hear today’s messageplease forward this email.I am reading this week’s podcast in the link below.You can listen now or download for later. Download all my podcasts from iTunes, Stitcher, Podkicker or Soundcloud. I am now publishing on Medium – please follow me here


Who said listen and silent are spelled with the same letters? ›

I did a quick Google search and came across a quote from Alfred Brendel that says, “Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters – coincidence? I don't think so.”

What does listen and silent are spelled with the same letters mean? ›

What do these two words have in common? Yes, listen and silent have the same letters. Yes, being a good listener requires being silent. However, there's more than just being silent when you listen. One of the best ways you can actively listen is to quiet your distracting thoughts while the other person is speaking.

Is silent an anagram of listen? ›

LISTEN is an anagram of SILENT.

What word is spelled the same as listen riddle? ›

I find great joy every Sunday morning in listening to the New York Times crossword puzzle editor and NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

What is the silent letter in the word psychology? ›

In the word 'Psychology', 'P' is the silent letter. In the word 'Doubt', 'b' is the silent letter. In the word 'Cattle', there is no silent letter as all the words are pronounced.

WHO SAID Sometimes silence speaks louder than words? ›

John Lennon on Twitter: ""A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words." - Dr Winston O'Boogie" / Twitter.

What is the silent letter in listen? ›

Today's topic is the silent t in words like listen and whistle. That's right, those t's are absolutely silent.

Why is the T silent in the word Listen? ›

“Listen” originally had no “t” (it was spelled lysna in Old English), but it acquired a “t” by association with the archaic synonym “list.” And “hasten” is merely an extended form of the old verb “haste,” formed by analogy with the other “-en” verbs.

Does listen have a silent letter? ›

The t in "listen" is pronounced. It is not silent.

What is the root word of listen? ›

listen (v.)

Old English hlysnan (Northumbrian lysna) "to listen, hear; attend to, obey" (transitive), from Proto-Germanic *hlusinon (source also of Dutch luisteren, Old High German hlosen "to listen," German lauschen "to listen"), from PIE root *kleu- "to hear."

What is the anagram of forty five? ›

"forty five" = "over fifty" "Santa" = "Satan"

Which word is silent in Mnemonic? ›

Mnemonics (the initial “m” is silent) are clues of any kind that help us remember something, usually by helping us associate the information we want to remember with a visual image, a sentence, or a word.

How many 7 letter words are there? ›

How many seven letter words are there? Determining the number of words in the English language with seven letters is a difficult task. If you are looking for words in the OCTWL to play in Scrabble, there are close to 35,000 to choose from.

What is the only letter that Cannot be silent? ›

There is only one letter in the language that is never silent. Can you guess what it is? The letter is V! There are various very valuable v-words, and that V is never silent!

What is the origin of silent letters? ›

However, during the 15th century, many words from other languages, such as Latin and French, were added to the English language. Often these new words didn't follow English rules of grammar. Since their spellings were fixed, some letters became silent when pronounced in English.

Why is silence so powerful? ›

Being silent allows us to channel our energies. It gives us the clarity we need to calmly face challenges and uncertainty. The hour of silence I practice each morning, and encourage you to practice as well, can be a time for collecting our thoughts, training our minds, and deciding how we want to enter into the day.

Is silence more powerful than words? ›

Silence can yield more power than words. Inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci said, “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” Leaders know how to use silence as a tactic for speaking up for themselves and as an opportunity to lead.

Does silence hurt more than words? ›

Those who have been given the silent treatment have reported experiencing a sense of loss, a sense of not belonging, diminished self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness, powerlessness and shame. When you communicate with others, remember that while words may hurt, silence is indeed deafening.

Is there a word with a silent F? ›

As far as we know, this silent F pronunciation of fifth is the only example in English of a word with a silent F.

What is the most common silent letter? ›

I never would have guessed that the letters l, b, and g are the most common silent consonants in the top 2,000 words in English. Those are the words I'm going to talk about today. In fact, there are 13 words in the 2,000 most frequent words in English that have a silent consonant.

Why do Americans not pronounce their t's? ›

Here's what we discovered. The phenomenon itself is known as “T-glottalization.” It occurs when a speaker swallows the T sound in a word rather than speaking it aloud. We hear it when words like “kitten” and “water” are pronounced like “KIH-en” and “WAH-er.”

Why don't we pronounce the T in often? ›

The \t\ is silent. Why? There's a \t\ in often , but how often do you hear it? As you might guess, the \t\ was pronounced in the past, when the word began as a variant of oft (also spelled ofte in Middle English), which was the more common form until the 1500s.

Is the T in Depot silent? ›

Words like “depot,” “trebuchet,” “duvet” originate from modern French, which doesn't pronounce the final single t, while “bucket ” comes from Old English, which pronounced it.

Why is the R silent in February? ›

Have you ever wondered why February has that random, silent first r? Well, February, like the names of most months, has Latin roots. It descended from Februarius, a month in the ancient Roman calendar. The name actually comes from the festival of februum, a purification ritual celebrated during the month.

What word has a silent J? ›

Some of you may be happy to know that we have at this point only one English word in which the j is silent: marijuana.

Why does knife have a silent K? ›

The letter ⟨k⟩ is normally silent (i.e. it does not reflect any sound) when it precedes an ⟨n⟩ at the beginning of a word, as in “knife”, and sometimes by extension in other positions.

What is the full meaning of listen? ›

: to pay attention to sound. listen to music. : to hear something with thoughtful attention : give consideration. listen to a plea.

What is the first form of listen? ›

Verb Forms of Listen
(Base) 1st(Past) 2nd(Past Participle) 3rd
Get list of more Verb Forms.

What is the 45 word? ›

Thus, 45 in words is written as Forty-five.

What is the 48 letter word? ›

But even longer words are possible! Epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellänsäkäänköhän (48 letters) is one of them (although it seems like more than one) and translates to “I wonder if – even with his/her quality of not having been made unsystematized”.

What is the longest anagram? ›

The longest scientific transposals are hydroxydesoxycorticosterone and hydroxydeoxycorticosterones, with 27 letters.

Is there a word with a silent Z? ›

Rendezvous, while originating from the French language, it is used in the English language.

Is the L in almond silent? ›

If an “L” is found towards the end of the word, before the letters “f,” “v”, “k” and “m,” but after the letter “a,” then it's usually silent (behalf, calve, walk, almond). In many of these instances, the silent L lengthens the previous vowel sound, which gives the slight impression of the “L” /l/ sound.

Why P is silent in psychology? ›

The silent P: Psychology with no receipt

The 'p', usually a popping sound made at the front of the mouth, is silenced when it precedes an 's'. Most of these words with silent 'p's are to do with the mind or the medicine of the mind: Psychology, psychiatry, psyche, psychological, psychotic or pseudo.

What is the most famous palindrome? ›

Perhaps the most commonly referenced English palindrome is: A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!

Is 1111 a palindrome number? ›

Palindromic numbers can be considered in numeral systems other than decimal. For example, the binary palindromic numbers are those with the binary representations: 0, 1, 11, 101, 111, 1001, 1111, 10001, 10101, 11011, 11111, 100001, ... (sequence A057148 in the OEIS)

Is 11.11 a palindrome? ›

This Friday, at the 11th second and the 11th minute after the 11th hour, the date and time will form a 12-digit palindrome.

What is a 3 letter word starting v? ›

What are some of the 3 Letter Words Starting With V? Some of the 3 Letter Words Starting With V are van, veg, vip, vid, via, vet, vow, vol, var, etc.

How many letters long is Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia? ›

If not, you might be facing a case of hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. Did you figure out what it means? Yes, this 36-letter word means the “fear of long words.” Origins: This technical term was formed by adding Latin prefixes to the root -phobia (fear).

What is the hardest 7 letter word? ›

As we are adding up letters, we have now come to: The Hardest Working SEVEN-Letter Word... "SUCCESS" - Achieve it.

What word uses all 26 letters of the alphabet only once? ›

An English pangram is a sentence that contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet. The most well known English pangram is probably “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.

Is there a 27 letter word? ›

The longest word in that dictionary is electroencephalographically (27 letters). The longest non-technical word in major dictionaries is floccinaucinihilipilification at 29 letters.

What word has 35 letters in it? ›

Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism. This is considered to be another long word in English, made up of 35 letters.


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