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Anagram

This article is about words that are remade by rearranging were current for the language in question. In particu-
their letters. For the game, see Anagrams. For the band, lar, spelling in English only slowly became xed. There
see Anagram (band). were attempts to regulate anagram formation, an impor-
tant one in English being that of George Puttenham's Of
the Anagram or Posy Transposed in The Art of English
An anagram is direct word switch or word play, the result
of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce Poesie (1589).
a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly
once; for example, the word anagram can be rearranged
into nag-a-ram. Someone who creates anagrams may be 2.1 Inuence of Latin
called an anagrammatist.[1] The original word or phrase
is known as the subject of the anagram. Anagrams are
As a literary game when Latin was the common prop-
often used as a form of mnemonic device as well.
erty of the literate, Latin anagrams were prominent: two
Any word or phrase that exactly reproduces the letters in examples are the change of "Ave Maria, gratia plena,
another order is an anagram. However, the goal of serious Dominus tecum (Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord [is]
or skilled anagrammatists is to produce anagrams that in with you) into Virgo serena, pia, munda et immaculata
some way reect or comment on the subject. (Serene virgin, pious, clean and spotless), and the ana-
grammatic answer to Pilate's question, Quid est veritas?"
(What is truth?), namely, Est vir qui adest (It is the man
1 Examples who is here). The origins of these are not documented.
Latin continued to inuence letter values (such as I = J,
Such an anagram (reecting or commenting on the sub- U = V and W = VV). There was an ongoing tradition of
ject) may be a synonym or antonym of its subject, a allowing anagrams to be perfect if the letters were all
parody, a criticism, or praise. It sometimes changes a used once, but allowing for these interchanges. This can
proper noun or personal name into a sentence, such as be seen in a popular Latin anagram against the Jesuits:
with "William Shakespeare" = I am a weakish speller Societas Jesu turned into Vitiosa seces, or Cut o
or "Madam Curie" = Radium came. It can change parts the wicked things. Puttenham, in the time of Elizabeth
of speech, such as the adjective silent to the verb lis-I of England, wished to start from Elissabet Anglorum
ten. Anagrams itself can be anagrammatized as Ars Regina (Elizabeth Queen of the English), to obtain Multa
magna (Latin, 'the great art').[2] regnabis ense gloria (By thy sword shalt thou reign in great
renown); he explains carefully that H is a note of aspira-
tion only and no letter, and that Z in Greek or Hebrew is a
2 History mere SS. The rules were not completely xed in the 17th
century. William Camden in his Remains commented,
Anagrams can be traced back to the time of Moses, as singling out some letters, K, [6]
W, and Znot found
Themuru or changing, which was to nd the hidden in the classical Roman alphabet:
and mystical meaning in names.[3] They were popular
throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, for exam-
ple with the poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut.[4] The precise in this practice strictly observ-
They are said to go back at least to the Greek poet ing all the parts of the denition, are only bold
Lycophron, in the third century BCE; but this relies on with H either in omitting or retaining it, for
an account of Lycophron given by John Tzetzes in the that it cannot challenge the right of a letter.
12th century. [5] But the Licentiats somewhat licentiously, lest
they should prejudice poetical liberty, will
Anagrams in Latin were considered witty over many cen- pardon themselves for doubling or rejecting a
turies. Est vir qui adest, explained below, was cited as letter, if the sence fall aptly, and think it no
the example in Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the En- injury to use E for ; V for W; S for Z, and C
glish Language. for K, and contrariwise.
Any historical material on anagrams must always be in- William Camden, Remains
terpreted in terms of the assumptions and spellings that

1
2 3 APPLICATIONS

2.2 Early modern period De Morgan[18] using his own name as example; Great
Gun, do us a sum!" is attributed to his son William
When it comes to the 17th century and anagrams in De Morgan, but a family friend John Thomas Graves
English or other languages, there is a great deal of was prolic, and a manuscript with over 2,800 has been
documented evidence of learned interest. The lawyer preserved.[19][20][21]
Thomas Egerton was praised through the anagram ge- With the advent of surrealism as a poetic movement, ana-
stat honorem ('he carries honor'); the physician George grams regained the artistic respect they had had in the
Ent took the anagrammatic motto genio surget ('he rises Baroque period. The German poet Unica Zrn, who
through spirit/genius), which requires his rst name as made extensive use of anagram techniques, came to re-
Georgius.[7] James Is courtiers discovered in James Stu- gard obsession with anagrams as a dangerous fever, be-
art a just master, and converted "Charles James Stu- cause it created isolation of the author.[22] The surrealist
art" into Claims Arthur's seat (even at that point in time, leader Andr Breton coined the anagram Avida Dollars
the letters I and J were more-or-less interchangeable). for Salvador Dal, to tarnish his reputation by the impli-
Walter Quin, tutor to the future Charles I, worked hard cation of commercialism.
on multilingual anagrams on the name of father James.[8]
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: Fran- 3 Applications
cis Howard (for Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset, her
maiden name spelled in a variant) became Car ndes a While anagramming is certainly a recreation rst, there
whore, with the letters E hardly counted, and the victim are ways in which anagrams are put to use, and these can
Thomas Overbury, as Thomas Overburie, was written be more serious, or at least not quite frivolous and form-
as O! O! a busie murther (an old form of murder), less. For example, psychologists use anagram-oriented
with a V counted as U.[9][10] tests, often called anagram solution tasks, to assess the
[23]
William Drummond of Hawthornden, in an essay On the implicit memory of young adults and adults alike.
Character of a Perfect Anagram, tried to lay down rules
for permissible substitutions (such as S standing for Z)
and letter omissions.[11] William Camden[12] provided a 3.1 Establishment of priority
denition of Anagrammatisme as a dissolution of a
name truly written into his letters, as his elements, and Natural philosophers (astronomers and others) of the
a new connection of it by articial transposition, without 17th century transposed their discoveries into Latin ana-
addition, subtraction or change of any letter, into dier- grams, to establish their priority. In this way they laid
ent words, making some perfect sense applyable (i.e., ap- claim to new discoveries, before their results were ready
plicable) to the person named. Dryden in MacFlecknoe for publication.
disdainfully called the pastime the torturing of one poor Galileo used smaismrmilmepoetaleumibunenugttauiras
word ten thousand ways.[13] for Altissimum planetam tergeminum observavi (I have
Eleanor Audeley, wife of Sir John Davies, is said to observed the most distant planet to have a triple form)
have been brought before the High Commission in 1634 for discovering the rings of Saturn in 1610.[24][25] Galileo
for extravagances, stimulated by the discovery that her announced his discovery that Venus had phases like the
name could be transposed to Reveale, O Daniel, and Moon in the form Haec immatura a me iam frustra le-
to have been laughed out of court by another anagram guntur -oy (Latin: These immature ones have already
submitted by Sir John Lambe, the dean of the Arches, been read in vain by me -oy), that is, when rearranged,
Dame Eleanor Davies, Never soe mad a ladie.[14][15] Cynthiae guras aemulatur Mater Amorum (Latin: The
Mother of Loves [= Venus] imitates the gures of Cynthia
An example from France was a attering anagram for [= the moon]).
Cardinal Richelieu, comparing him to Hercules or at least
one of his hands (Hercules being a kingly symbol), where When Robert Hooke discovered Hookes law in 1660, he
Armand de Richelieu became Ardue main d'Hercule (dif- rst published it in anagram form, ceiiinosssttuv, for ut
cult hand of Hercules).[16] tensio, sic vis (Latin: as the tension, so the force).[26]
In a related use, from 1975, British naturalist Sir Pe-
ter Scott coined the scientic term Nessiteras rhom-
2.3 Modern period bopteryx (Greek for The monster (or wonder) of Ness
with the diamond-shaped n) for the apocryphal Loch
Examples from the nineteenth century are the transposi- Ness Monster.[27] Shortly afterwards, several London
tion of "Horatio Nelson" into Honor est a Nilo (Latin newspapers pointed out that Nessiteras rhombopteryx
= 'Honor is from the Nile'); and of "Florence Nightin- anagrams into Monster hoax by Sir Peter S. However,
gale" into Flit on, cheering angel.[17] The Victorian love Robert Rines, who previously made two underwater pho-
of anagramming as recreation is alluded to by Augustus tographs allegedly showing the monster, countered with
3.3 Titles 3

the fact that they can also be arranged into Yes, both pix 3.3 Titles
are monsters, R.[28]
Anagrams used for titles aord scope for some types of
wit. Examples:
3.2 Pseudonyms
Homer Hickam, Jr.'s book Rocket Boys was adapted
Anagrams are connected to pseudonyms, by the fact that into the 1999 lm October Sky.[31]
they may conceal or reveal, or operate somewhere in be-
tween like a mask that can establish identity. For ex- The tapes for the revival of the BBC show Doctor
ample, Jim Morrison used an anagram of his name in Who were labeled with the anagram Torchwood,
The Doors song L.A. Woman, calling himself Mr. Mojo which later went on to be used as the name for a
Risin' ". The use of anagrams and fabricated personal spin-o show.
names may be to circumvent restrictions on the use of
real names, as happened in the 18th century when Edward The 1980s TV series The A-Team had a Season 1
Cave wanted to get around restrictions imposed on the anagram episode called Black Day at Bad Rock, a
reporting of the House of Commons.[29] In a genre such word play on the 1955 Spenser Tracy western movie,
as farce or parody, anagrams as names may be used for Bad Day at Black Rock.
pointed and satiric eect.
The New Wave band Missing Persons' best-selling
Pseudonyms adopted by authors are sometimes trans-
album was called Spring Session M.
posed forms of their names; thus "Calvinus" becomes
Alcuinus (here V = U) or "Franois Rabelais" = Al- Hip-hop artist MF DOOM recorded a 2004 album
cofribas Nasier. The name "Voltaire" of Franois Marie called MM..FOOD.
Arouet ts this pattern, and is allowed to be an anagram
of Arouet, l[e] j[eune]" (U = V, J = I) that is, Arouet Brian Eno's album Before and After Science includes
the younger. Other examples include a song entitled Kings Lead Hat, an anagram of
"Talking Heads", a band Eno has worked with.
"Arrigo Boito" = Tobia Gorrio
Juan Maria Solare's piano ballad Jura ser anoma-
la (literally he/she swears to be an anomaly) is
"Edward Gorey" = Ogdred Weary, = Regera
an anagram of the composers full name. His com-
Dowdy or = E. G. Deadworry (and others)
position for English horn titled A Dot in Time is
an anagram of Meditation, which describes the
"Vladimir Nabokov" = Vivian Darkbloom, = Vi-
piece. The title of his piano piece that is an homage
vian Bloodmark, = Blavdak Vinomori, or = Do-
to Claude Debussy is Seduce Us Badly.
rian Vivalkomb
Bill Evans's overdubbed piano elegy for fellow jazz
"Ted Morgan" = "(Sanche) de Gramont pianist Sonny Clark is titled N.Y.C.'s No Lark,
and another composition, Re: Person I Knew is
"Dave Barry" = Ray Adverb a tribute to his producer, Orrin Keepnews.

"Glen Duncan" = Declan Gunn[30] The title of Imogen Heap's album iMegaphone is an
anagram of her name.
"Damon Albarn" = Dan Abnormal
Progressive rock group Rush published a song
"Anna Madrigal" = A man and a girl o their 1989 album Presto titled Anagram (for
Mongo)" that makes use of anagrams in every line
Tom Marvolo Riddle = I am Lord Voldemort" of their song.

The title of the fth album by American rock band


"Buckethead" = Death Cube K
Interpol, El Pintor, is an anagram of the bands name
and also Spanish for the painter.
"Daniel Clowes" = "Enid Coleslaw"

"Siobhn Donaghy" = Shanghai Nobody


3.4 Coincidences

Several of these are imperfect anagrams, letters having In Hebrew, the name "Gernot Zippe" () , the
been left out in some cases for the sake of easy pronunci- inventor of the Zippe-type centrifuge, is an anagram of
ation. the word Centrifuge ().
4 5 SEE ALSO

3.5 Games and puzzles 3.6 Ciphers


Anagrams are in themselves a recreational activity, but Multiple anagramming is a technique used to solve some
they also make up part of many other games, puzzles and kinds of cryptograms, such as a permutation cipher, a
game shows. The Jumble is a puzzle found in many news- transposition cipher, and the Jeerson disk.[32]
papers in the United States requiring the unscrambling of
letters to nd the solution. Cryptic crossword puzzles fre-
quently use anagrammatic clues, usually indicating that
they are anagrams by the inclusion of a descriptive term
4 Methods of construction
like confused or in disarray. An example would be
Businessman burst into tears (9 letters). The solution, sta- Sometimes it is possible to see anagrams in words,
tioner, is an anagram of into tears, the letters of which unaided by tools, though the more letters involved the
have burst out of their original arrangement to form the more dicult this becomes. Anagram dictionaries could
name of a type of businessman. also be used. Computer programs, known as anagram
servers, anagram solvers or anagrammers, oer a
Some games even use anagrams in their plot. For exam-
much faster route to creating anagrams, and a large num-
ple, the game Undertale uses Delta Rune as an anagram
ber of these programs are available on the Internet. The
of its title to represent the Dreemurr royal family and the
program or server carries out an exhaustive search of
name of their symbol.
a database of words, to produce a list containing every
Numerous other games and contests involve some ele- possible combination of words or phrases from the input
ment of anagram formation as a basic skill. Some ex- word or phrase. Some programs (such as Lexpert) re-
amples: strict to one-word answers. Many anagram servers (for
example, The Words Oracle) can control the search re-
In Anagrams, players ip tiles over one at a time and sults, by excluding or including certain words, limiting
race to take words. They can steal each others the number or length of words in each anagram, or lim-
words by rearranging the letters and extending the iting the number of results. Anagram solvers are often
words. banned from online anagram games. The disadvantage
of computer anagram solvers, especially when applied to
In a version of Scrabble called Clabbers, the name multi-word anagrams, is their poor understanding of the
itself being an anagram of Scrabble, tiles may be meaning of the words they are manipulating. They usu-
placed in any order on the board as long as they ana- ally cannot lter out meaningful or appropriate anagrams
gram to a valid word. from large numbers of nonsensical word combinations.
Some servers attempt to improve on this using statistical
On the British game show Countdown, contestants techniques that try to combine only words that appear to-
are given 30 seconds to make the longest word from gether often. This approach provides only limited success
nine random letters. since it fails to recognize ironic and humorous combina-
tions.
In Boggle, players make constrained words from a
grid of sixteen random letters, by joining adjacent Some anagrammatists indicate the method they used.
cubes. Anagrams constructed without aid of a computer are
noted as having been done manually or by hand"; those
On the British game show BrainTeaser, contestants made by utilizing a computer may be noted by machine
are shown a word broken into randomly arranged or by computer, or may indicate the name of the com-
segments and must announce the whole word. At puter program (using Anagram Genius).
the end of the game there is a Pyramid which
starts with a three-letter word. A letter appears in There are also a few natural instances: English words
the line below to which the player must add the ex- unconsciously created by switching letters around. The
isting letters to nd a solution. The pattern contin- French chaise longue (long chair) became the Ameri-
ues until the player reaches the nal eight-letter ana- can "chaise lounge" by metathesis (transposition of letters
gram. The player wins the game by solving all the and/or sounds). It has also been speculated that the En-
anagrams within the allotted time. glish curd comes from the Latin crudus (raw). Simi-
larly, the ancient English word for bird was brid.
In Bananagrams, players place tiles from a pool into
crossword-style word arrangements in a race to see
who can nish the pool of tiles rst.
5 See also
Other anagram games include Bonza (Word
Game), Bookworm (video game), Dabble, Jumble, Acronym
Letterpress (video game), Perquackey, Puzzlage,
Word Force, WordSpot, and Words with Friends. Ambigram
5

Anagram dictionary [14] Oxford Book of Word Games

Anagrammatic poem [15] Hugh Trevor-Roper, Archbishop Laud (2000), p. 146.

Anagrams, a board game [16] H. W. van Helsdingen, Notes on Two Sheets of Sketches by
Nicolas Poussin for the Long Gallery of the Louvre, Simi-
Blanagram olus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, Vol.
5, No. 3/4 (1971), pp. 172184.
Constrained writing
[17] 1911 Britannica article anagram.
Isogram
Letter bank [18] In his A Budget of Paradoxes, p. 82.

Lipogram [19] Robert Edoward Moritz, On Mathematics and Mathemati-


cians (2007), p. 151.
London Underground anagram map
[20] Anna Stirling, William De Morgan and His Wife (1922) p.
Palindrome 64.

Pangram [21] AIM25 home page

Rebus [22] Friederike Ursula Eigler, Susanne Kord, The Feminist En-
cyclopedia of German Literature (1997), pp. 145.
Tautonym
[23] Java, Rosalind I. Priming and Aging: Evidence of Pre-
Word play served Memory Function in an Anagram Solution Task.
The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 105, No. 4.
(Winter, 1992), pp. 541548.
6 References [24] Miner, Ellis D.; Wessen, Randii R.; Cuzzi, Jerey N.
(2007). The scientic signicance of planetary ring sys-
[1] Anagrammatist, www.dictionary.com. Retrieved on tems. Planetary Ring Systems. Springer Praxis Books in
2008-08-12. Space Exploration. Praxis. pp. 116. doi:10.1007/978-
0-387-73981-6_1. ISBN 978-0-387-34177-4.
[2] Ars Magna. PBS. 1 July 2008. Archived from the orig-
inal on 22 June 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2017. This
[25] Galileos Anagrams and the Moons of Mars. Math
Emmy-nominated short enters the obsessive and fascinat-
Pages: History. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
ing world of anagrams. [Original articles link to video is
dead, but link in archived article works.] [26] Derek Gjertsen, The Newton Handbook (1986), p. 16.
[3] Of Anagrams, By H.B. Wheatley pg. 72, printed 1862 T.
[27] Sir Peter Scott, Robert Rines: Naming the Loch Ness
& W. Boone, New Bond Street, London
monster, Nature 258, 11 December 1975, 466468,
[4] HOASM doi:10.1038/258466a0

[5] The LoveToKnow Free Online Encyclopedia Archived 4 [28] Article, Monster Hoax?", in New Scientist, Christmas
October 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Double Issue, Volume 68, Number 980, page 739 (18
25 December 1975).
[6] Cited in Henry Benjamin Wheatley, Of anagrams: a
monograph treating of their history (1862); online text. [29] Institute of Historical Research (IHR) home page

[7] Articles from the Dictionary of National Biography. [30] I, Lucifer (Glen Duncan)
[8] Dictionary of National Biography. [31] Lundin, Leigh (2009-11-29). Anagrams. Word Play.
Criminal Brief.
[9] Early Stuart Libels

[10] Early Stuart Libels [32] Bletchley Park Cryptographic Dictionary. Codesandci-
phers.org.uk. Retrieved on 2014-05-12.
[11] Henry Benjamin Wheatley, On Anagrams (1862), p. 58.

[12] Remains, 7th ed., 1674.


7 Further reading
[13] Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame
In keen iambics, but mild anagram:
Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command Henry Benjamin Wheatley. Of Anagrams: A Mono-
Some peaceful province in acrostic land. graph Treating of Their History from the Earliest
There thou mayst wings display and altars raise, Ages to the Present Time. Williams & Norgate,
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways. 1862.
6 7 FURTHER READING

Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics.


Greenwood Periodicals et al., 1968. ISSN 0043-
7980.

Howard W. Bergerson. Palindromes and Anagrams.


Dover Publications, 1973. ISBN 978-0486206646.
7

8 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


8.1 Text
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