You might have stumbled across the concept of the palindrome whilst looking at the English language, but do you understand what it is and what it is used for? If not, there is no need to worry as in this article, we are going to be looking at palindrome in a lot more depth. We will be discovering what the palindrome is and what it’s function is. We are then going to be taking a look at some examples of palindromes as a way of gaining a greater understanding of them.
What Is A Palindrome?
In the most simple terms, a palindrome is a word, phrase or number which reads the same backwards as it does when being read forwards. It does not matter if there are punctuation marks within the palindrome, these do not count and if they are present, the sequence or word will still fall under the category of the palindrome.
The word palindrome originally comes from the Greek Language and is made up of two words, the first being palin which translates to mean again and the second being dromos which translates to mean direction or way. The palindrome, when read backwards will have the same pattern, layout, appearance, sound and meaning. For the use of the palindrome in the English language, we can thank a man named Ben Jonson who introduced the idea way back in the 17th century.
When looking at palindromes, we see that there are two different types. Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail.
The Word Unit Palindrome
The word unit palindrome is one where the word or sentence is read backwards in terms of the words and letters, for example, the words rotor, noon, civic, radar and level are all examples of words which fall into this type of palindrome. There are also sentences which might be classed as a word unit palindrome such as fall leaves after leaves fall or Queen, are you happy you are Queen?
One Line Palindrome
The one line palindrome is one in which a sentence is read backwards in terms of the letters. An example of this might be was it a car or a cat I saw? The letters of this sentence spell the same words regardless of the direction in which they are read.
You might also see these other types of palindrome being used quite commonly.
- Number palindrome
- Character by character palindrome
- Name palindrome
- Word palindrome
Why Do We Use Palindromes?
One of the main reasons that palindromes are used in written work is because they give the author chance to make a more creative piece of writing which is also much more entertaining to read. On top of this, the palindrome may be used in written work to play the part of a brain exercise, both for the author and for the reader.
In some cases, palindrome enthusiasts will try to come up with extremely long palindromes that still make sense. There are examples of palindromes to be seen in things such as magic spells and in a religious context with many palindromes making an appearance in religious texts.
Now that we have gained a better understanding of what a palindrome is and how it is used, we are ready to take a look at some further, more detailed examples of them.
- In The funny side of English written by O A Booty, we see an example of palindrome when we look at the sentence “Llewd did I live and evil did I dwell.” This example of the palindrome was written all the way back in the 1600’s showing just how long this concept has been being used.
- “Norma is as selfless as I am Ron” This palindrome was actually written by an unknown author, however, it is commonly attributed to the famous author, W H Auden.
- There are many people whose names are palindromes, there have been a lot of famous names which fall into the category. Some of these names include an ex-Prime Minister of Cambodia whose name was Lon Nol, the Japanese writer named Nisio Isin, an actor whose name was Robert Trebor and a character from the movie Holes whose name was Stanley Yelnats.
- We mentioned earlier that numbers can be palindromes, this could be something as simple as the numbers 151, 1221, 3443 or 656 or it might be something such as a phone number, for example, 0800 919 0080. Many companies might use a phone number like this to make it easier to remember, therefore attracting more custom.
- There are many words which on their own make a palindrome, think about the following words: Anna, mom, kayak, madam, racecar, refer, redder, sagas, wow, rotator, solos and stats. All of these words can be read backwards the same as they can be read forwards.
- There are also palindromes which are made up of multiple words, consider the following examples. I did, did I. My gym. Top spot. No lemon, no melon.
- “First women run the state and the state rule women first.” This is an example of a word palindrome where the words of the sentence can be read backwards in the same way as they can be read forwards.
- “Sator arepo tenet opera rotas.” This is the very first palindrome that was ever recorded and it is thought that it comes from around 70AD. The palindrome is written in Latin and whilst it is not entirely grammatically correct, it is certainly fun.
The palindrome is, in the simplest terms a word, phrase or sequence which can be read backwards in the same way that it can be read forwards. There are various different types of palindrome, but the concept surrounding all of them is essentially the same. Whether it is a sequence of numbers, letters or words, the main rule is that they read the same in both directions. Using punctuation within a palindrome will not alter it, as this does not have an effect on whether the sentence or sequence is classed as a palindrome.
Learn more with a list of palindrome words & phrases in English.