An acrostic is a poem (or other form of writing) in which the first letter (or syllable, or word) of each line (or paragraph, or other recurring feature in the text) spells out a word, message or the alphabet. The word comes from the French acrostiche from post-classical Latin acrostichis, from Koine Greek ἀκροστιχίς, from Ancient Greek ἄκρος "highest, topmost" and στίχος "verse". As a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval.
Relatively simple acrostics may merely spell out the letters of the alphabet in order; such an acrostic may be called an 'alphabetical acrostic' or Abecedarius. These acrostics occur in the first four of the five chapters that make up the Book of Lamentations, in the praise of the good wife in Proverbs 31, 10-31, and in Psalms 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119 and 145 of the Hebrew Bible. Notable among the acrostic Psalms is the long Psalm 119, which typically is printed in subsections named after the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, each section consisting of 8 verses, each of which begins with the same letter of the alphabet and the entire psalm consisting of 22 x 8 = 176 verses; and Psalm 145, which is recited three times a day in the Jewish services. Some acrostic psalms are technically imperfect. E.g. Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 appear to constitute a single acrostic psalm together, but the length assigned to each letter is unequal and five of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are not represented and the sequence of two letters is reversed. In Psalm 25 one Hebrew letter is not represented, the following letter (Resh) repeated. In Psalm 34 the current final verse, 23, does fit verse 22 in content, but adds an additional line to the poem. In Psalms 37 and 111 the numbering of verses and the division into lines are interfering with each other; as a result in Psalm 37, for the letters Daleth and Kaph there is only one verse, and the letter Ayin is not represented. Psalm 111 and 112 have 22 lines, but 10 verses. Psalm 145 does not represent the letter Nun, having 21 one verses, but one Qumran manuscript of this Psalm does have that missing line, which agrees with the Septuagint.
Acrostics are common in medieval literature, where they usually serve to highlight the name of the poet or his patron, or to make a prayer to a saint. They are most frequent in verse works but can also appear in prose. The Middle High German poet Rudolf von Ems for example opens all his great works with an acrostic of his name, and his world chronicle marks the beginning of each age with an acrostic of the key figure (Moses, David, etc.). In chronicles, acrostics are common in German and English but rare in other languages.
Often the ease of detectability of an acrostic can depend on the intention of its creator. In some cases an author may desire an acrostic to have a better chance of being perceived by an observant reader, such as the acrostic contained in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (where the key capital letters are decorated with ornate embellishments). However, acrostics may also be used as a form of steganography, where the author seeks to conceal the message rather than proclaim it. This might be achieved by making the key letters uniform in appearance with the surrounding text, or by aligning the words in such a way that the relationship between the key letters is less obvious. This is referred to as null ciphers in steganography, using the first letter of each word to form a hidden message in an otherwise innocuous text. Using letters to hide a message, as in acrostic ciphers, was popular during the Renaissance, and could employ various methods of enciphering, such as selecting other letters than initials based on a repeating pattern (equidistant letter sequences), or even concealing the message by starting at the end of the text and working backwards.
A famous acrostic was made in Greek for the acclamation JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, SAVIOUR. The initials spell ΙΧΘΥΣ (ICHTHYS), which means fish:
Ιησούς I esous Jesus Χριστός CH ristos Christ Θεού TH eou of God Υἱός Y ios son Σωτήρ S oter saviour
There is an acrostic secreted in the Dutch national anthem Het Wilhelmus (The William): the first letters of its fifteen stanzas spell WILLEM VAN NASSOV. This was one of the hereditary titles of William of Orange (William the Silent), who introduces himself in the poem to the Dutch people. This title also returned in the 2010 speech from the throne, during the Dutch State Opening of Parliament, whose first 15 lines also formed WILLEM VAN NASSOV.
Elizabeth it is in vain you say
"Love not"—thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.
Zantippe's talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breath it less gently forth—and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love—was cured of all beside—
His follie—pride—and passion—for he died.
A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July -
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear -
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream -
Lingering in the golden gleam -
Life, what is it but a dream?
In January 2010, Jonathan I. Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, sent an email to Sun employees on the completion of the acquisition of Sun by Oracle Corporation. The initial letters of the first seven paragraphs spelled "Beat IBM".
James May, presenter on the BBC program Top Gear, was fired from the publication Autocar for spelling out a message using the large red initial at the beginning of each review in the publication's Road Test Yearbook Issue for 1992. Properly punctuated, the message reads: "So you think it's really good? Yeah, you should try making the bloody thing up. It's a real pain in the arse."
In the 2012 third novel of his Caged Flower series, author Cullman Wallace used acrostics as a plot device. The parents of a protagonist send e-mails where the first letters of the lines reveal their situation in a concealed message.
In 2013 a school headmaster resigned after announcing the retirement of a teacher in a statement which began "We all now know every really great teacher has to finish one day..." The initial letters of the first six words caused offence.
On August 19, 2017, the members of President Donald Trump's Committee on Arts and Humanities resigned in protest over the President's response to the Unite the Right rally incident in Charlottesville, Virginia. The members' letter of resignation contained the acrostic "RESIST" formed from the first letter of each paragraph.
On August 23, 2017, University of California-Berkeley energy professor Daniel Kammen resigned from his position as a State Department science envoy with a resignation letter in which the word "IMPEACH" was spelled out by the first letters of each paragraph.
Acrostics can be more complex than just by making words from initials. A double acrostic, for example, may have words at the beginning and end of its lines, as this example, on the name of Stroud, by Paul Hansford -
S et among hills in the midst of five valley S, T his peaceful little market town we inhabi T R efuses (vociferously!) to be a conforme R. O nce home of the cloth it gave its name t O, U phill and down again its streets lead yo U. D espite its faults it leaves us all charme D.
The first letters make up the acrostich and the last letters the telestich; in this case they are identical.
The poem Behold, O God!, by William Browne, can be considered a complex kind of acrostic. In the manuscript, some letters are capitalized and written extra-large, non-italic, and in red, and the lines are shifted left or right and internally spaced out as necessary to position the red letters within three crosses that extend through all the lines of the poem. The letters within each cross spell out a verse from the New Testament:
The "INRI" at the top of the middle cross stands for Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum, Latin for "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (John 19:3). The three quotes represent the three figures crucified on Golgotha, as recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
(The text of the manuscript shown differs significantly from the text usually published, including in the reference. Many of the lines have somewhat different wording; and while the acrostics are the same as far as they go, the published text is missing the last four lines, truncating the acrostics to "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kin", "O God, my God, why hast thou forsak", and "If thou art the Christ, save thyself". The manuscript text is printed below, first as normal poetry, then spaced and bolded to bring out the acrostics. The word "Thou" in line 8 is not visible in this photograph, but is in the published version and is included in a cross-stitch sampler of the poem from 1793.)
Behold, O God! In rivers of my tears
I come to thee! bow down thy blessed ears
To hear my Plaint; and let thine eyes which keep
Continual watch behold a Sinner weep:
Let not, O God my God my Sins, tho' great,
And numberless, between thy Mercy's-Seat
And my poor Soul have place; since we are taught,
[Thou] Lord, remember'st thyne, if Thou art sought.
I come not, Lord, with any other merit
Than what I by my Saviour Christ inherit:
Be then his wounds my balm— his stripes my Bliss;
His thorns my crown; my death be blest in his.
And thou, my blest Redeemer, Saviour, God,
Quit my accounts, withhold thy vengeful rod!
O beg for me, my hopes on Thee are set;
And Christ forgive me, since thou'st paid my debt
The living font, the Life, the Way, I know,
And but to thee, O whither shall I go?
All other helps are vain: grant thine to me,
For in thy cross my saving health I see.
O hearken then, that I with faith implore,
Lest Sin and Death sink me to rise no more.
Lastly, O God, my course direct and guide,
In Death defend me, that I never slide;
And at Doomsday let me be rais'd again,
To live with thee sweet Jesus say, Amen.
Behold, O God! IN RI vers of my tears I come to thee! bow down thy blessed ears To hear my Plaint; and let thine eyes which keep Continual watch behold a Sinner weep: Let not, O GOD my GOD my Sins, tho' great, And numberless, bet W een thy Mercy's-Seat And my poor Soul H ave place; since we are taught, [Thou] Lord, remember st th Y ne, If Thou art sought. I co ME not, Lord, wit H any o THE r merit Than WH at I by my S A viour CH rist inherit: Be th EN his Wound S my Balm— his St RI pes my Bliss; His TH orns my crown; my dea T h be ble ST in his. And th OU, my bles T Redeemer, SA viour, God, Quit my ac CO unts, with H old thy VE ngeful rod! O beg for ME, my h O pes on T hee are set; And Chri ST forgi V e me, since t H ou'st paid my debt The liv IN g font, the Li F e, the Wa Y, I know, And but TO thee, O whither S hall I go? All o TH er helps a R e vain: grant thin E to me, For in th Y cross my S aving hea L th I see. O hear K en then, th A t I with F aith implore, Lest S IN and Death sin K me to rise + no more. Lastly, O G od, my cours E direct A nd guide, In D eath defe N d me, that I N ever slide; And at Do OM sday let M e be rais' D again, To live + with the E sweet Jes US say, Amen.
An abecedarius (also abecedary and abecedarian) is a special type of acrostic in which the first letter of every word, strophe or verse follows the order of the letters in the alphabet.Acrostic (puzzle)
An acrostic is a type of word puzzle, related somewhat to crossword puzzles, that uses an acrostic form. It typically consists of two parts. The first part is a set of lettered clues, each of which has numbered blanks representing the letters of the answer. The second part is a long series of numbered blanks and spaces, representing a quotation or other text, into which the answers for the clues fit. In some forms of the puzzle, the first letters of each correct clue answer, read in order from clue A on down the list, will spell out the author of the quote and the title of the work it is taken from; this can be used as an additional solving aid.Alphabet song
An alphabet song is any of various songs used to teach children the alphabet. Alphabet songs typically recite the names of all letters of the alphabet of a given language in order.Davtak Kertogh
Davtak Kertogh (Davtak the Poet) was a 7th-century Armenian poet, the first secular writer in Armenian literature. He is the author of "Elegy on the Death of the Great Prince Jevansher", dedicated to the first Sassanid Persian prince of Caucasian Albania, who accepted Christianity and was murdered.
The only surviving poem by Kertogh is written in alphabetical acrostic verse.Erythraean Sibyl
The Erythraean Sibyl was the prophetess of classical antiquity presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Erythrae, a town in Ionia opposite Chios, which was built by Neleus, the son of Codrus.
The word Sibyl comes (via Latin) from the ancient Greek word sibylla, meaning prophetess. Sibyls would give answers whose value depended upon good questions — unlike prophets, who typically answered with responses indirectly related to questions asked.
Presumably there was more than one sibyl at Erythrae. One is recorded as having been named Herophile,. At least one is said to have been from Chaldea, a nation in the southern portion of Babylonia, being the daughter of Berossus (who wrote the Chaldean history) and Erymanthe. Apollodorus of Erythrae, however, says that one who was his own countrywoman predicted the Trojan War and prophesied to the Greeks both that Troy would be destroyed and that Homer would write falsehoods.
The term acrostic has been applied to the prophecies of the Erythraean Sibyl, which were written on leaves and arranged so that the initial letters of the leaves always formed a word.In Christian iconography the Erythraean Sibyl is credited with prophesying the coming of the Redeemer, which prophesy was in the form of an acrostic whose initial letters spelled out "ΙΗΣΌΎΣ ΧΡΕΙΣΤΟΣ ΘΕΟΥ ΎΊΟΣ ΣΩΤΗΡ ΣΤΑΎΡΟΣ" ("Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior, Cross). Examples were in mediaeval paintings in Salisbury cathedral, and others are shown in the illustrations on this page.Ilias Latina
The Ilias Latina is a short Latin hexameter version of the Iliad of Homer that gained popularity in Antiquity and remained popular through the Middle Ages. It was very widely studied and read in Medieval schools as part of the standard Latin educational curriculum. According to Ernest Robert Curtius, it is a "crude condensation", into 1070 lines. It is attributed to Publius Baebius Italicus, said to be a Roman Senator, and to the decade 60 CE – 70 CE. It includes at least two acrostic elements: the first lines spell out ITALICUS, while the last lines spell SCRIPSIT, taken together translating "Italicus wrote (it)."Israel Alnaqua
Rabbi Israel ben Joseph Alnaqua (Hebrew: ישראל בן יוסף אלנאקוה) (also, "Al-Nakawa", "Al-Nakava", "Ankava", "Ankoa", "Alnucawi", etc., Hebrew: "נקוה", "אלנאקוה", "אנקווה", "אנקאווא") (died 1391) was an ethical writer and martyr who lived in Toledo, Spain. He died at the stake, together with Judah ben Asher, in the summer of 1391.
He is the author of an ethical work in twenty chapters, entitled Menorat ha-Maor (Shining Candelabra). The work commences with a long poem, an acrostic on the author's name. Then follows a preface in rimed prose. The introduction to each chapter is headed by a poem, giving the acrostic of his name, Israel. It was printed in 1578. A manuscript of it is in the Bodleian. An abridgment of it was published at Cracow, 1593, under the title Menorat Zahav Kullah (Candelabra Wholly of Gold). It is divided into five sections, which contain observations
on laws in general
on the behavior of litigants and judges in court
on conduct toward one's fellow men.This is supplemented by a treatise, שפת אליהו רבה, consisting of Talmudic and midrashic sayings and maxims, which has been published in German (Hebrew characters) in Wagenseil's Belehrung der Jüd.-Deutschen Red-und Schreibart, Königsberg, 1699.List of puzzle topics
This is a list of puzzle topics, by Wikipedia page.
Back from the klondike
Computer puzzle game
Daughter in the box
Egg of Columbus
Eight queens puzzle
Fox, goose and bag of beans puzzle
Knights and knaves
Logo extraction puzzle
National Puzzlers' League
Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition
Paint by numbers
Pirate loot problem
Prisoners and hats puzzle
Thinking outside the box
Three cups problem
Tower of Hanoi
XYZZY Award for Best Individual PuzzlePiyyut
A piyyut or piyut (plural piyyutim or piyutim, Hebrew: פִּיּוּטִים / פיוטים, פִּיּוּט / פיוט pronounced [piˈjut, pijuˈtim]; from Greek ποιητής poiētḗs "poet") is a Jewish liturgical poem, usually designated to be sung, chanted, or recited during religious services. Piyyutim have been written since Temple times. Most piyyutim are in Hebrew or Aramaic, and most follow some poetic scheme, such as an acrostic following the order of the Hebrew alphabet or spelling out the name of the author.
Many piyyutim are familiar to regular attendees of synagogue services. For example, the best-known piyyut may be Adon Olam ("Master of the World"), sometimes (but almost certainly wrongly) attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol in 11th century Spain. Its poetic form consists of a repeated rhythmic pattern of short-long-long-long (the so-called hazaj meter), and it is so beloved that it is often sung at the conclusion of many synagogue services, after the ritual nightly saying of the Shema, and during the morning ritual of putting on tefillin. Another well-beloved piyyut is Yigdal ("May God be Hallowed"), which is based upon the Thirteen Principles of Faith developed by Maimonides.
Important scholars of piyyut today include Shulamit Elizur and Joseph Yahalom, both at Hebrew University.
The author of a piyyut is known as a paytan or payyetan (פייטנ); plural paytanim (פייטנים).Psalm 10
Psalm 10 is the 10th psalm from the Book of Psalms.
The message is similar to that of Psalm 9, though it focuses more on the individual than humanity. In the Greek Septuagint and, consequently, in most Christian Bibles prior to the Reformation, it is considered part of Psalm 9, shifting the numbers of the following psalms down by one. These two consecutive Psalms have the form of a single acrostic Hebrew poem.Psalm 111
Psalm 111 is the 111th psalm of the biblical Book of Psalms. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 110 in a slightly different numbering system.
Psalm 111, 112 and 119 are the only Psalms that are acrostic by phrase in the Bible; that is, each 7-9 syllable phrase begins with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order.Psalm 112
Psalm 112 is the 112th psalm of the biblical Book of Psalms. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 111 in a slightly different numbering system.
Psalm 111, 112 and 119 are the only Psalms that are acrostic by phrase in the Bible; that is, each 7-9 syllable phrase begins with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order.Psalm 113
Psalm 113 is the 113th psalm of the Book of Psalms (Psalm 112 in Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate). It is very similar to the Song of Hannah.The psalm is often known by its first two words, Laudate pueri, and there are many musical settings – including Claudio Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine of 1610.
In Hebrew the opening line is an acrostic poem: הַלְלוּ-יָהּ: הַלְלוּ, עַבְדֵי יְהוָה; הַלְלוּ, אֶת-שֵׁם יְהוָה.Psalm 25
Psalm 25 (Hebrew numbering; Psalm 24 in Greek numbering) of the Book of Psalms, has the form of an acrostic Hebrew poem. It is the second of the seven so-called Penitential Psalms.
This psalm has a strong formal relationship to Psalm 34. Both are alphabetic acrostics, with missing each time the verse Waw, which was added a verse to Pe a prayer of deliverance of Israel. As an Acrostic the verses in the psalm are arranged according to the Hebrew alphabet, with the exception of the letters Bet, Waw and Qoph which together according to Jewish interpreters made reference to the word gehinom (hell).Psalm 34
Psalm 34 is the 34th psalm of the Book of Psalms, or Psalm 33 according to the Greek numbering system. It is an acrostic poem in the Hebrew Alphabet, one of a series of the songs of thanksgiving. It is the first Psalm which describes angels as guardians of the righteous.
Psalm 34 attributes its own authorship to David. The Psalm's sub-title, A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed, derives from when David was living with the Philistines, but the account of this event in 1 Samuel 21 refers to the king as Achish, not Abimelech.Psalm 37
Psalm 37 is the 37th psalm of the Book of Psalms. It has the form of an acrostic Hebrew poem, and is thought to have been written by David in his old age.Psalm 9
Psalm 9 is the 9th psalm of the Book of Psalms.The message in the psalm is that the successes of evil are only temporary, and in the end, only the righteous will endure. Psalm 10 is considered part of Psalm 9 in the Greek Septuagint and in most pre-Reformation Christian Bibles. These two consecutive Psalms have the form of a single acrostic Hebrew poem.Scout Motto
The Scout Motto of the Scout movement, in various languages, has been used by millions of Scouts around the world since 1907. Most of the member organizations of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) share this same motto.The Vane Sisters
"The Vane Sisters" is a short story by Vladimir Nabokov, written in March 1951. It is famous for providing one of the most extreme examples of an unreliable narrator. It was first published in the Winter 1958 issue of The Hudson Review and then reprinted in Encounter during 1959. The story was included in Nabokov's Quartet (1966), Nabokov's Congeries (1968; reprinted as The Portable Nabokov, 1971), Tyrants Destroyed and Other Stories (1975), and The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (1995).
The narrator, a professor, recounts his experiences with the two sisters, and meditates upon the possibility of intervention by ghosts into his reality.