What Are Palindromes?

Definition of "Palindrome"

Palindromes are words, phrases, or numbers that read the same way forwards and backwards. Some examples of palindromes include "racecar," "level," "madam," and "mom." Palindromes are fascinating linguistic constructs that have been explored in literature, mathematics, and computer science.

In literature, palindromes have been used for their poetic and aesthetic qualities. Palindromic phrases have been incorporated into poetry, and some writers have even created entire palindromic novels that can be read forwards and backwards. In mathematics, palindromic numbers have been studied for their properties and relationships to other numbers.

In computer science, palindromes have practical applications in fields such as data compression and text processing. Algorithms have been developed to efficiently identify palindromes in large datasets, and they have been used in applications such as DNA sequencing and speech recognition.

Overall, palindromes are a fascinating aspect of language and mathematics that have captured the attention of people across various disciplines.

Table of Contents

  • Easy Examples of Palindrome
  • More Examples of Palindromes
  • Odd or Even Number of Letters?
  • Meaningful Palindromes
  • The Difference between Palindromes and Ambigrams
  • Even More Examples of Palindromes
  • Why Palindromes Are Important
  • Test Time!
palindrome definition

Easy Examples of Palindrome

  • Civic
  • Kayak
  • Radar
  • Race car
  • It's my gym whichever way you look at it.

More Examples of Palindromes

Punctuation isn't considered when creating palindromes.
  • He did, eh?
  • Do geese see God?
  • No lemon, no melon
  • No, it is open on one position.
  • Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron.
  • Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.
  • Marge, let's send a sadness telegram.
  • Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna.

Odd or Even Number of Letters?

A palindrome can have an odd or even number of letters. With an odd number of letters, the palindrome pivots around the middle letter. With an even number the two halves are mirror copies. For example:
  • No lemons, no melon.
  • (This is a 15-letter palindrome that pivots around the "s.")
  • No lemon, no melon.
  • (This is a 14-letter palindrome with two equal halves.)

Meaningful Palindromes

Palindromes are difficult to create because the chance of your letter working at both ends is always slim. Therefore, creating one with meaning is especially impressive. These deserve special mention:
  • Borrow or rob?
  • Madam, in Eden, I'm Adam.
  • A man, a plan, a canal: Panama
  • Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?

The Difference between Palindromes and Ambigrams

Words that read the same upside down are called ambigrams. Most unmodified ambigrams are written with capital letters. For example:
  • SOS
  • NOON

Formal Definition of Ambigram

A typographical design consisting of text modified in such a way that it can be read in multiple orientations, as in mirror image, inverted, or when rotated.
Ambigrams can also be created by modifying the letters with artistic flourishes and tails.
ambigrams examples

Video Lesson

Here is a two-and-a-half-minute music video by "Weird Al" Yankovic that uses just palindromes:

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

Even More Examples of Palindromes

  • Taco cat
  • Wet stew
  • party-trap
  • Amore, Roma.
  • Dogma: I am God
  • Yo, banana boy!
  • No "x" in "Nixon."
  • Not a banana baton
  • Devil never even lived.
  • A nut for a jar of tuna.
  • Murder for a jar of red rum.
  • Was it a car or a cat I saw?
  • Al lets Della call Ed "Stella."
  • Pull up, Eva, we're here! Wave! Pull up!
  • Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.
  • Swap God for a janitor; rot in a jar of dog paws.
  • Are we not pure? "No, sir!" Panama's moody Noriega brags. "It is garbage!" Irony dooms a man-a prisoner up to new era.
  • Dennis, Nell, Edna, Leon, Nedra, Anita, Rolf, Nora, Alice, Carol, Leo, Jane, Reed, Dena, Dale, Basil, Rae, Penny, Lana, Dave, Denny, Lena, Ida, Bernadette, Ben, Ray, Lila, Nina, Jo, Ira, Mara, Sara, Mario, Jan, Ina, Lily, Arne, Bette, Dan, Reba, Diane, Lynn, Ed, Eva, Dana, Lynne, Pearl, Isabel, Ada, Ned, Dee, Rena, Joel, Lora, Cecil, Aaron, Flora, Tina, Arden, Noel, and Ellen sinned.

Why Palindromes Are Important

Palindromes are created for fun or for the challenge. For teachers, writing palindromes can be a useful way to encourage students to play with letters and words. However, they must be careful not to involve students suffering with aibohphobia (a fear of palindromes), a condition first recognized by Dr. Awkward in 1881 in Allagalla.

Key Point

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.