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What is Palindromania?

PALINDROMANIA is trivia with answers which are Palindromes. Palindromes are usually in units of "the letter." Occasionally the unit will be "the word." These are generally more difficult and the universe of them much more limited. One even can run into "syllable" or "entire line" Palindromes.

Of course, I could do Palindromes without the trivia. But I decided long ago, after reading so many awful ones which were practically undecipherable as to meaning, in an inglorious attempt to "be long," that mine would need to "make sense." Hence, what I used to call the "Setup" or now the "Clue."

Now, are many of the clues some combination of a) unlikely, b) silly, c) strained or d) flat out impossible because of historical timelines? Yes, you bet. But given all these caveats, they are at least PLAUSIBLE.

I myself have grown fond of those which are historically impossible because they have Joan of Arc conversing with Richard Nixon or something. I hope that you will at least be able to tell from the 'Drome that it actually fits the clue. They are categorized in order to provide additional clues to solving. The point is to be able to solve the 'Drome from the clue, but if you decide that is too much effort, then you can simply ENJOY (dare I say smile, laugh out loud at, or at least grudgingly respect?) them.

Believe me, if you have even one-tenth the pleasure in figuring out or reading them that I have had in creating them, then that will be a lot. I have stumbled on the world's cheapest hobby, but one which, I hope, will keep the old brain cells active for years to come.

Hey, what is a "Palindrome," anyway?

Palindromes, of course, are words or phrases that read the same way backwards and forwards. Numerals count just as letters do. In no event does punctuation count. Some of the most famous ones include "Sit on a potato pan, Otis," "Ned, go gag Ogden," and "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!"

How many Palindromes have you written?

Well, let's say somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000. The quality varies a lot, and many of my early ones are amateurish, filled with "oh", "o", "eh", "ho", "ha", etc., which I consider to be bad form unless the 'Drome has other overriding and redeeming characteristics. But I have gotten better over the years. Some are very short, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as I have noted elsewhere. Short and pithy can, in fact, be very good, like:

A 6 ounce bottle of beer common in the Midwest.

Short Stroh's.

Of course, many short ones can be elongated into others. I don't do as much writing as I used to, but mainly organize and send from a database to my e-mail distribution list. But I can still kill an afternoon and several pieces of legal paper creating 15 or 20 new ones if I try very hard. And I am always creating them mentally as I drive and see road signs and billboards where I automatically turn everything around to see if it works out.

What is your Palindromic philosophy?

If they are so long that it is almost impossible to figure out what they are trying to say, then they are way too long! Sensibility is the trump card, to me. I am also not a fan of "A man, a plan, a ... ... ... ... (hundreds of words later) a canal, Panama!" The original was genius. The others, tired. A good 'Drome for me tells a story.

So, what's your favorite or most creative 'Drome?

This is really hard to nail down to just one. How about one of my earliest?

Telling the Starship Enterprise helmsman about the
symbolism in the dawning of the Roman empire.

Sulu, morning is a sign in Romulus.

Exactly how crazy does your wife think you are?

She is so sweet and supportive of my efforts; except, that is, when she rolls her eyes.

(Pretty crazy.)

I can't get enough 'Dromes! Is there any way I can get one in my e-mail every day?

Funny you should ask. I have been disseminating a Palindrome of the Day via e-mail for around a decade now. The list has grown modestly, as my friends and relatives have exposed their friends and family to the 'Dromes, from about 15 to a current distribution of around 60. Formerly 7 days a week and 365 days a year, I now distribute the 'Dromes on weekdays only (which my wife still thinks is far too often for "normal people" to think about Palindromes), so that people who receive them at work will not have a pile to go through on Monday morning. Among the subscribers to "Palindromania" are my immediate family, my mother, my brother and sister, college friends, teaching colleagues, my son's friends, William Safire, President George W. Bush and previously, Douglas Hofstadter (a hero of mine and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the seminal Gödel, Escher, Bach), who was quite complimentary of my 'Dromes even as he asked to be removed because he receives too much e-mail.

If you would like to subscribe, please contact the Palindromist. You will be added immediately and have a 100% guarantee of receiving the next Palindromania mailing!

Jon Agee wrote a book titled Palindromania. Are you him?

I am not. My creation of the term "Palindromania," and its subsequent use in personal (later public) Palindromic writings predates his 2002 book by more than a decade, to my original 1991 inscription of the word in black magic marker (see below) on a legal pad in Readington, N.J.

Palindromania legal pad header

Can you recommend any Palindrome, anagram or other wordplay literature?

Dmitri Borgmann's book Language on Vacation is a classic in the field. My initial inspiration was Howard Bergerson's Palindromes and Anagrams, which contains a wealth of material from his incredible vocabularyclept poetry to the amazing Palindromic work of J.A. Lindon. Bergerson was, by the way, the founder and first editor of the quarterly journal Word Ways. Current editor and publisher Ross Eckler's Making the Alphabet Dance is much more recent and has a tremendous variety of wordplay, including Palindromes. Richard Lederer's The Play of the Words was an early inspiration for me on wordplay in general. NYT crosswords editor Will Shortz's NPR puzzle challenge at is also good. See Palindromania's links page for more recommendations of online wordplay content.


General Info/Disclaimers

I am not Jon Agee and have no affiliation with him. The term "Palindromania" was conjured by me in 1991 in Readington, N.J. (prior to publication of his 2002 book).

All work on this site is original with me to the best of my knowledge, although, given the open-source nature of words, that may mean that some other person also wrote the same Palindrome, too.

Need Palindromes written?

If you would like to, I encourage you to contact the Palindromist to discuss an arrangement to create special-purpose Palindromes: for a particular business, party, reunion, or other social gathering, always to the extent that they are possible within the Palindromic universe. (I have created Palindromic presentations for my own theater productions, family gatherings, actuarial functions, &c.)

Want to exchange links?

Just shoot us an e-mail. We'll gladly display your link button, too. If you'd like to link to Palindromania — and we encourage you to do so — our link button is below. If you use it, please copy it to your webspace before linking.

Palindromania link button


Many thanks for the Palindromania graphic and site design by Chris McGreal, chris (at) bluehornet (dot) com.

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© 2005-2017 | All rights reserved