An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of a different word or phrase, typically using all the original letters exactly once. For example, the word anagram can be rearranged into nag a ram, or the word binary into brainy.
The original word or phrase is known as the subject of the anagram. Any word or phrase that exactly reproduces the letters in another order is an anagram. Someone who creates anagrams may be called an "anagrammatist", and the goal of a serious or skilled anagrammatist is to produce anagrams that reflect or comment on their subject.
Anagrams may be created as a commentary on the subject. They may be a synonym or antonym of their subject, a parody, a criticism or satire. For example:
An anagram which means the opposite of its subject is called an "antigram". For example:
They can sometimes change from a proper noun or personal name into an appropriate sentence:
They can change part of speech, such as the adjective "silent" to the verb "listen".
"Anagrams" itself can be anagrammatized as "Ars magna" (Latin, 'the great art').
Anagrams can be traced back to the time of the Ancient Greeks, and were then known as "Themuru" or changing, which was to find the hidden and mystical meaning in names. They were popular throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, for example with the poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut. They are said to go back at least to the Greek poet Lycophron, in the third century BCE; but this relies on an account of Lycophron given by John Tzetzes in the 12th century.
Anagrams in Latin were considered witty over many centuries. "Est vir qui adest", explained below, was cited as the example in Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language. They became hugely popular in the Early Modern period, especially in Germany.
Any historical material on anagrams must always be interpreted in terms of the assumptions and spellings that were current for the language in question. In particular, spelling in English only slowly became fixed. There were attempts to regulate anagram formation, an important one in English being that of George Puttenham's Of the Anagram or Posy Transposed in The Art of English Poesie (1589).
As a literary game when Latin was the common property of the literate, Latin anagrams were prominent.. Two examples are the change of Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum (Latin: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord [is] with you) into Virgo serena, pia, munda et immaculata (Latin: Serene virgin, pious, clean and spotless), and the anagrammatic answer to Pilate's question, Quid est veritas? (Latin: What is truth?), namely, Est vir qui adest (Latin: It is the man who is here). The origins of these are not documented.
Latin continued to influence letter values (such as I = J, U = V and W = VV). There was an ongoing tradition of allowing anagrams to be "perfect" if the letters were all used once, but allowing for these interchanges. This can be seen in a popular Latin anagram against the Jesuits: Societas Jesu turned into Vitiosa seces (Latin: Cut off the wicked things). Puttenham, in the time of Elizabeth I of England, wished to start from Elissabet Anglorum Regina (Latin: Elizabeth Queen of the English), to obtain Multa regnabis ense gloria (Latin: By thy sword shalt thou reign in great renown); he explains carefully that H is "a note of aspiration only and no letter", and that Z in Greek or Hebrew is a mere SS. The rules were not completely fixed in the 17th century. William Camden in his Remains commented, singling out some letters—Æ, K, W, and Z—not found in the classical Roman alphabet:
The precise in this practice strictly observing all the parts of the definition, are only bold with H either in omitting or retaining it, for that it cannot challenge the right of a letter. But the Licentiats somewhat licentiously, lest they should prejudice poetical liberty, will pardon themselves for doubling or rejecting a letter, if the sence fall aptly, and "think it no injury to use E for Æ; V for W; S for Z, and C for K, and contrariwise.— William Camden, Remains
When it comes to the 17th century and anagrams in English or other languages, there is a great deal of documented evidence of learned interest. The lawyer Thomas Egerton was praised through the anagram gestat honorem ('he carries honor'); the physician George Ent took the anagrammatic motto genio surget ('he rises through spirit/genius'), which requires his first name as Georgius. James I's courtiers discovered in "James Stuart" "a just master", and converted "Charles James Stuart" into "Claims Arthur's seat" (even at that point in time, the letters I and J were more-or-less interchangeable). Walter Quin, tutor to the future Charles I, worked hard on multilingual anagrams on the name of father James. A notorious murder scandal, the Overbury case, threw up two imperfect anagrams that were aided by typically loose spelling and were recorded by Simonds D'Ewes: "Francis Howard" (for Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset, her maiden name spelled in a variant) became "Car findes a whore", with the letters E hardly counted, and the victim Thomas Overbury, as "Thomas Overburie", was written as "O! O! a busie murther" (an old form of "murder"), with a V counted as U.
William Drummond of Hawthornden, in an essay On the Character of a Perfect Anagram, tried to lay down rules for permissible substitutions (such as S standing for Z) and letter omissions. William Camden provided a definition of "Anagrammatisme" as "a dissolution of a name truly written into his letters, as his elements, and a new connection of it by artificial transposition, without addition, subtraction or change of any letter, into different words, making some perfect sense applyable (i.e., applicable) to the person named." Dryden in MacFlecknoe disdainfully called the pastime the "torturing of one poor word ten thousand ways".
"Eleanor Audeley", wife of Sir John Davies, is said to have been brought before the High Commission in 1634 for extravagances, stimulated by the discovery that her name could be transposed to "Reveale, O Daniel", and to have been laughed out of court by another anagram submitted by Sir John Lambe, the dean of the Arches, "Dame Eleanor Davies", "Never soe mad a ladie".
An example from France was a flattering anagram for Cardinal Richelieu, comparing him to Hercules or at least one of his hands (Hercules being a kingly symbol), where Armand de Richelieu became Ardue main d'Hercule ("difficult hand of Hercules").
Examples from the 19th century are the transposition of "Horatio Nelson" into Honor est a Nilo (Latin: Honor is from the Nile); and of "Florence Nightingale" into "Flit on, cheering angel". The Victorian love of anagramming as recreation is alluded to by the mathematician Augustus De Morgan using his own name as example; "Great Gun, do us a sum!" is attributed to his son William De Morgan, but a family friend John Thomas Graves was prolific, and a manuscript with over 2,800 has been preserved.
With the advent of surrealism as a poetic movement, anagrams regained the artistic respect they had had in the Baroque period. The German poet Unica Zürn, who made extensive use of anagram techniques, came to regard obsession with anagrams as a "dangerous fever", because it created isolation of the author. The surrealist leader André Breton coined the anagram Avida Dollars for Salvador Dalí, to tarnish his reputation by the implication of commercialism.
While anagramming is certainly a recreation first, there are ways in which anagrams are put to use, and these can be more serious, or at least not quite frivolous and formless. For example, psychologists use anagram-oriented tests, often called "anagram solution tasks", to assess the implicit memory of young adults and adults alike.
Natural philosophers (astronomers and others) of the 17th century transposed their discoveries into Latin anagrams, to establish their priority. In this way they laid claim to new discoveries, before their results were ready for publication.
Galileo used smaismrmilmepoetaleumibunenugttauiras for Altissimum planetam tergeminum observavi (Latin: I have observed the most distant planet to have a triple form) for discovering the rings of Saturn in 1610. Galileo announced his discovery that Venus had phases like the Moon in the form Hæc immatura a me iam frustra leguntur oy (Latin: These immature ones have already been read in vain by me -oy), that is, when rearranged, Cynthiæ figuras aemulatur Mater Amorum (Latin: The Mother of Loves [= Venus] imitates the figures of Cynthia [= the moon]). In both cases, Johannes Kepler had solved the anagrams incorrectly, assuming they were talking about the Moons of Mars (Salve, umbistineum geminatum Martia proles) and a red spot on Jupiter (Macula rufa in Jove est gyratur mathem), respectively. By coincidence, he turned out to be right about the actual objects existing.
In 1656, Christiaan Huygens, using a better telescope than those available to Galileo, figured that Galileo's earlier observations of Saturn actually meant it had a ring (Galileo's tools were only sufficient to see it as bumps) and, like Galileo, had published an anagram, aaaaaaacccccdeeeeeghiiiiiiillllmmnnnnnnnnnooooppqrrstttttuuuuu. Upon confirming his observations, three years later he revealed it to mean Annuto cingitur, tenui, plano, nusquam coherente, ad eclipticam inclinato (Latin: It [Saturn] is surrounded by a thin, flat, ring, nowhere touching, inclined to the ecliptic).
In a related use, from 1975, British naturalist Sir Peter Scott coined the scientific term Nessiteras rhombopteryx (Greek: The monster (or wonder) of Ness with the diamond-shaped fin) for the apocryphal Loch Ness Monster. Shortly afterwards, several London newspapers pointed out that Nessiteras rhombopteryx anagrams into Monster hoax by Sir Peter S. However, Robert Rines, who previously made two underwater photographs allegedly showing the monster, countered that they can also be arranged into Yes, both pix are monsters, R.
Anagrams are connected to pseudonyms, by the fact that they may conceal or reveal, or operate somewhere in between like a mask that can establish identity. For example, Jim Morrison used an anagram of his name in The Doors song L.A. Woman, calling himself "Mr. Mojo Risin'". The use of anagrams and fabricated personal names may be to circumvent restrictions on the use of real names, as happened in the 18th century when Edward Cave wanted to get around restrictions imposed on the reporting of the House of Commons. In a genre such as farce or parody, anagrams as names may be used for pointed and satiric effect.
Pseudonyms adopted by authors are sometimes transposed forms of their names; thus "Calvinus" becomes "Alcuinus" (here V = U) or "François Rabelais" = "Alcofribas Nasier". The name "Voltaire" of François Marie Arouet fits this pattern, and is allowed to be an anagram of "Arouet, l[e] j[eune]" (U = V, J = I) that is, "Arouet the younger". Other examples include:
Several of these are "imperfect anagrams", letters having been left out in some cases for the sake of easy pronunciation.
Anagrams used for titles afford scope for some types of wit. Examples:
Anagrams are in themselves a recreational activity, but they also make up part of many other games, puzzles and game shows. The Jumble is a puzzle found in many newspapers in the United States requiring the unscrambling of letters to find the solution. Cryptic crossword puzzles frequently use anagrammatic clues, usually indicating that they are anagrams by the inclusion of a descriptive term like "confused" or "in disarray". An example would be Businessman burst into tears (9 letters). The solution, stationer, is an anagram of into tears, the letters of which have burst out of their original arrangement to form the name of a type of businessman.
Numerous other games and contests involve some element of anagram formation as a basic skill. Some examples:
Multiple anagramming is a technique used to solve some kinds of cryptograms, such as a permutation cipher, a transposition cipher, and the Jefferson disk. Solutions may be computationally found using a Jumble algorithm.
Sometimes, it is possible to "see" anagrams in words, unaided by tools, though the more letters involved the more difficult this becomes. Anagram dictionaries could also be used. Computer programs, known as "anagram servers" "anagram solvers" or "anagrammers", offer a much faster route to creating anagrams, and a large number of these programs are available on the Internet.
The program or server carries out an exhaustive search of a database of words, to produce a list containing every possible combination of words or phrases from the input word or phrase using a jumble algorithm. Some programs (such as Lexpert) restrict to one-word answers. Many anagram servers (for example, The Words Oracle) can control the search results, by excluding or including certain words, limiting the number or length of words in each anagram, or limiting the number of results. Anagram solvers are often banned from online anagram games. The disadvantage of computer anagram solvers, especially when applied to multi-word anagrams, is their poor understanding of the meaning of the words they are manipulating. They usually cannot filter out meaningful or appropriate anagrams from large numbers of nonsensical word combinations. Some servers attempt to improve on this using statistical techniques that try to combine only words that appear together often. This approach provides only limited success since it fails to recognize ironic and humorous combinations.
Some anagrammatists indicate the method they used. Anagrams constructed without aid of a computer are noted as having been done "manually" or "by hand"; those made by utilizing a computer may be noted "by machine" or "by computer", or may indicate the name of the computer program (using Anagram Genius).
There are also a few "natural" instances: English words unconsciously created by switching letters around. The French chaise longue ("long chair") became the American "chaise lounge" by metathesis (transposition of letters and/or sounds). It has also been speculated that the English "curd" comes from the Latin crudus ("raw"). Similarly, the ancient English word for bird was "brid".
The French king Louis XIII had a man named Thomas Billen appointed as his Royal Anagrammatist with an annual salary of 1200 pounds. Among contemporary anagrammers, Anu Garg, the founder of Wordsmith.org, created the Internet Anagram Server in 1994. He is also the founder and editor of satirical anagram-based newspaper The Anagram Times. Mike Keith has anagrammed the complete text of Moby Dick. He, along with Richard Brodie, has published The Anagrammed Bible that includes anagrammed version of many books of the Bible.
An animated anagram displays the letters of a word or phrase moving into their new positions. Animations can be created manually, or with software.
This Emmy-nominated short enters the obsessive and fascinating world of anagrams.[Original article's link to video is dead, but link in archived article works.]
Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame
In keen iambics, but mild anagram:
Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command
Some peaceful province in acrostic land.
There thou may'st wings display and altars raise,
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways.
Alloy is an unincorporated community in Fayette County, West Virginia, United States. Alloy is located along the Kanawha River and U.S. Route 60 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Gauley Bridge. Alloy was originally known as Boncar (anagram of carbon) until the mid-1930s. Both the original placename and the current placename refer to the ferroalloy plant that still operates here (producing about 30% of all the silicon metal in North America). The metals plant was originally the Electro Metallurgical Co.; a unit of Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation. Alloy has a post office with ZIP code 25002.Anagram dictionary
In the main type of anagram dictionary, the letters in words or phrases are rearranged in alphabetical order, and these transpositions are themselves then ordered alphabetically within word-length groups, so that any words consisting of this group of letters can be found. This arrangement is designed for use in solving word puzzles such as crosswords, or for playing games such as Scrabble. The first such anagram dictionary was The Crossword Anagram Dictionary by R.J. EdwardsIn the other kind of anagram dictionary, words are categorized into equivalence classes that consist of words with the same number of each kind of letter. Thus words will only appear when other words can be made from the same letters.
Anagram dictionaries were formerly produced by hand, but can now be trivially generated from any machine-readable word list by computer, for example, by the Internet Anagram Server and this Scrabble Word Finder, by sorting words in order of their sorted letter-strings.Angelic Upstarts
Angelic Upstarts are an English punk rock band formed in South Shields in 1977. Allmusic calls them "one of the period's most politically charged and thought-provoking groups". The band espoused an anti-fascist and socialist working class philosophy, and have been associated with the skinhead subculture.
The band released eight studio albums in their first decade. After a brief split they reformed in 1988, and a number of times subsequently, with new albums appearing in 1992, 2002, 2011, and 2016. More than two decades after its release, their debut single, "The Murder Of Liddle Towers", was included in Mojo magazine’s list of the best punk rock singles of all time.Bolotridon
Bolotridon is an extinct genus of epicynodontian cynodont. It was renamed from its original genus designation of Tribolodon (Harry Govier Seeley, 1895), which was already occupied by a genus of cyprinid fish named in 1883 by Sauvage. The name Bolotridon was coined by Brian W. Coad in a 1977 publication as an anagram of Tribolodon.Cryptic crossword
A cryptic crossword is a crossword puzzle in which each clue is a word puzzle in and of itself. Cryptic crosswords are particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where they originated, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, and in several Commonwealth nations, including Australia, Canada, India, Kenya, Malta, New Zealand, and South Africa. In the United States, cryptics are sometimes known as "British-style" crosswords. Compilers of cryptic crosswords are commonly called "setters" in the UK.
Cryptic crossword puzzles come in two main types: the basic cryptic in which each clue answer is entered into the diagram normally, and "themed" or "variety" cryptics, in which some or all of the answers must be altered before entering, usually in accordance with a hidden pattern or rule which must be discovered by the solver.Ecobondage
Ecobondage is an album by the Japanese noise musician Merzbow, it uses "handmade thin metal precussion, with an emphasis on scratched metal noises".The title stands for "Bondage Economy". The album was inspired by Michel Foucault's book The Birth of the Clinic, and Masami Akita wrote Anagram of Perversion, his first book, during the recording of the album.
Two cassettes were made using raw material from the album, Enclosure and Vratya Southward.The track "Ecobondage [Ending]" was remixed by Autechre on the Merzbow remix album Scumtron.Hawkwind, Friends and Relations
The Hawkwind, Friends and Relations series of albums was released in the early 1980s containing live and studio performances by Hawkwind and related bands.
It was released through the independent record company Flicknife Records, with the rights subsequently sold onto Cherry Red who continue to release packages through their Anagram label comprising this and other Hawkwind related material originally released by Flicknife Records.Laukshwe
Laukshwe is a village in Hsawlaw Township in Myitkyina District in the Kachin State of north-eastern Burma. It is an anagram of English defender Luke Shaw.Lofty Fake Anagram
Lofty Fake Anagram is an album by vibraphonist Gary Burton recorded in 1967 and released on the RCA label.London Underground anagram map
London Underground anagram map is a parody map of the London Underground with the station and line names replaced with anagrams. The anagram map was circulated on the web in February 2006.Managra
Managra is an original novel written by Stephen Marley and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. The novel features the Fourth Doctor and Sarah.
The title is an anagram of the word "anagram".Martian poetry
Martian poetry was a minor movement in British poetry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which everyday things and human behaviour are described in a strange way, as if by a visiting Martian who does not understand them. Poets most closely associated with it are Craig Raine and Christopher Reid.
The term Martianism has also been applied more widely to include fiction as well as to poetry. The word martianism is, coincidentally, an anagram of one of its principal exponents, Martin Amis, who promoted the work of both Raine and Reid in the Times Literary Supplement and the New Statesman.Neola, West Virginia
Neola is an unincorporated community in northeastern Greenbrier County, West Virginia, United States. It lies along West Virginia Route 92 north of the city of White Sulphur Springs. Its elevation is 2,037 feet (621 m).The community's name is an anagram of Olean, New York, the native home of a local lumber dealer.Palindrome
A palindrome is a word, number, phrase, or other sequence of characters which reads the same backward as forward, such as madam or racecar or the number 10801. Sentence-length palindromes may be written when allowances are made for adjustments to capital letters, punctuation, and word dividers, such as "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!", "Was it a car or a cat I saw?" or "No 'x' in Nixon".
Composing literature in palindromes is an example of constrained writing.
The word "palindrome" was coined by the English playwright Ben Jonson in the 17th century from the Greek roots palin (πάλιν; "again") and dromos (δρóμος; "way, direction").Peter Tobin
Peter Britton Tobin (born 27 August 1946) is a convicted Scottish serial killer and sex offender who is currently serving three sentences of life imprisonment with a whole life order at HM Prison Edinburgh for three murders committed between 1991 and 2006.Prior to his first murder conviction, Tobin served ten years in prison for a double rape committed in 1993, following which he was released in 2004. Three years after his release, he was sentenced to life with a minimum of 21 years for the rape and murder of Angelika Kluk in Glasgow in 2006. Skeletal remains of a further two young women who went missing in 1991 were subsequently found at his former home in Margate, Kent. Tobin was convicted of the murder of Vicky Hamilton in December 2008, resulting in his minimum sentence being increased to 30 years, and of the murder of Dinah McNicol in December 2009, resulting in a whole life order.
Tobin has been labelled a psychopath by a senior psychologist, and by criminology professor David Wilson, who also wrote a book on Tobin connecting him with the Bible John murders of the late-1960s.Presto (album)
Presto is the thirteenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush. It was released on November 21, 1989 by Anthem Records and is their first album released internationally by Atlantic Records following the group's departure from Mercury. After the Hold Your Fire (1987) tour ended in 1988, the group reconvened in December 1988 to decide their next step and agreed to take six months off before starting on a new album. Presto marks another change in Rush's sound with the guitar taking a more dominant role in the writing and a reduction in synthesizers and a return towards more guitar driven arrangements.
Presto reached No. 7 in Canada and No. 16 in the US. Rush put out "Show Don't Tell", "The Pass", and "Superconductor" as singles from Presto; the former charted at No. 1 on the US Album Rock Tracks chart. Rush supported the album with the Presto Tour from February to June 1990. Presto reached gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling 500,000 copies. The album was remastered in 2004 and 2013, the latter as part of the 2013 box set, The Studio Albums 1989–2007.Ritenbenck
Ritenbenck, Ritenbenk or Ritenbench (Greenlandic: Appat) is a former settlement on Appat Island in the Qaasuitsup municipality in northwestern Greenland. The island is located in the Uummannaq Fjord.
Ritenbenck was founded in 1755 by the General Trade Company. The name was an anagram of the GTC's then-chairman Christian August Berckentin (1694–1758).Thela Hun Ginjeet
"Thela Hun Ginjeet" is a single by the band King Crimson, released in 1981 and on the album Discipline (1981). The song name is an anagram of "heat in the jungle", which is a reference to crime in the city. (The term "heat" is American slang for firearms or for police.)
While most of the instruments are in 44 time, Robert Fripp's electric guitar plays in 78 time during part of the song, creating an unusual effect. In the middle of the song, voice recordings are heard. Adrian Belew talks about his experiences with London Rastafarians and the police, while he was trying to get voice recordings for the song.Vice Squad
Vice Squad are an English punk rock band formed in 1979 in Bristol. The band was formed from two other local punk bands, The Contingent and TV Brakes. The songwriter and vocalist Beki Bondage (born Rebecca Louise Bond) was a founding member of the band. Although there was a period of time when the band had a different vocalist she reformed the band in 1997..