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  LOGOLOG
a weblog of wordplay by Eric Harshbarger

Palindromes

LOGOLOG is still a new blog for me, so these early entries are covering some very basic topics of wordplay. Today's "lesson"? Palindromes.

A palindrome is a word or phrase that, when reversed, reads the same way (spaces and punctuation can be altered). So, a word like LEVEL or names like BOB and HANNAH are all palindromes.

Many people have spent much time devising clever palindromic sentences and phrases. For example:

Harass selfless Sarah.
A man, a plan, a canal -- Panama.
Palindromes strongly reinforce the notion that much of wordplay had to do with patterns. The reversibility of a string of letters is very recognizable. This recognition has likely encouraged many companies to use palindromes as product or brand names (the Honda CIVIC, the pharmaceutical XANAX).

Below are a couple of lists. If readers can fill in any of the blanks (or lengthen any of the entries), please let me know.

First, palindromes beginning (and ending, of course) with each letter of the alphabet:

alula
boob
civic
deified
esse
f
goog
halalah
igigi
j
kinnikinnik
level
madam
noon
otto
peeweep
q
rotator
sawbwas
terret
ulu
vav
wow
x
yaray
z
While many of the words above will be unfamiliar, they are all in Merriam Webster's unabridged lexicon. I have tried to stick with non-proper nouns, as well as words without hyphens. For a list with slightly more forgiving criteria, I would recommend the reader consults the book Wordplay by Chris Cole. It is a comprehensive catalog of logological lists.

It seems like a true linguistic oversight that there is not a satifying entry for the letter "F" of the above list. Especially when we are taunted with the wonderful, yet not-quite-palindromic, word FOOLPROOF.

The second list of words is also alphabetical, but now the letter of index is centered within the word (or, if the word is an even number of letters, the two central letters are considered):

  rotator
  sawbwas
   succus
  murdrum
  sememes
  deified
   degged
    oho
  reviver
   kajak
kinnikinnik
   solos
    ama
   tenet
  devoved
   tippit
     q
   yaray
  seesees
  seities
   alula
   civic
  peeweep
   sexes
   kayak
     z
Again, while many of these words are uncommon, somebody at sometime has used them enough that Merriam Webster feels them valid.

-- Eric

[15 December 2005]
   
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