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Palindromes – a language’s 4-wheel racecar

created on by  in Word trivia

What are Palindromes?

Palindromes are words, word groups, or even sentences that may be read the same way in either direction. Nonetheless, these words do not necessarily need to make sense. Only the letter sequence is important.

Examples of palindromes include level, rotor, noon, or even names like Anna.

The longest palindrome in the Oxford English Dictionary is tattarrattat. This is a so-called onomatopoeia – a word that phonetically imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. In this case, tattarattat was used by James Joyce in Ulysses (1922) for a knock on the door. The world’s longest palindrome in everyday use is saippuakivikauppias. This is Finnish and roughly means soapstone vendor.

KAIAK, KOOK, MADAM or MUM – palindromes like these and many more can be found in our palindrome list. There you can find palindromes that are allowed in word games like Scrabble® or Words with Friends®. Additionally, you get information on their scores when using them in a word game, which word game allows them, and you can explore reference materials in order to understand the grammar and meaning of the palindromes.

Palindrome Sentences

Palindromes give even greater pleasure if you build word groups or even complete palindrome sentences. Here are some examples: Was it a car or a cat I saw? or A nut for a jar of tuna.

The longest known palindrome sentence in English so far consists of 17,259 words and was created by Dan Hoey. This is an excerpt: A man, a plan, a cameo, Zena, Bird, Mocha […] Lew, orpah, Comdr, Ibanez, OEM, a canal, Panama! For detailed information and the complete sentence visit the following website.

Sometimes you find out that words that can be read the same in either direction, but words formed that have different meanings count as palindromes as well. One example is the word desserts. Reading this word backwards, you get stressed. Actually, these words are no palindromes. You can classify them as anagrams. An anagram can be described as a word which was formed from another word by simply rearranging the letters. To be more precise, it is a so-called semordnilap, a word or phrase that spells a different word or phrase backwards. After knowing this, take a closer look at the term semordnilap.

Palindromes are Everywhere

Palindromes don’t need to be words and sentences. There are numerical series like 2442 with palindromic character or time displays like 13:31. There are even acoustic palindromes. Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 47 in G is nicknamed “The Palindrome”. This composition was written in 1772, with the minuet and trio being composed as musical palindromes. The scores and rhythm yield the same sequence forwards and backwards. The second half of the piece is the same as the first, but backwards.

Here you can find a direct comparison. Haydn’s Symphony is played with the audio reversed and then with the audio played forwards.

Haydn's Palindrome - audio reversed

Now it’s your turn

Which palindromic words or facts do you know? Have you found any interesting palindromes on billboards or calendar sheets in everyday life? Leave a comment and share your findings with us!

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image sources

  • Palindrome – Gnudung: Owned by 1337 UGC GmbH