A palindrome is a word, sentence, number, or similar form of writing where the characters are written the same forwards as backwards, for example, the word racecar. The unusual pattern behind palindromes were identified in ancient times (probably shortly after writing was developed). Throughout time, people have generally viewed them as an interesting curiosity, but some believed they had symbolic or magical powers, for example, the Sator Square. Palindromes can exist in any writing system, and, while fanciers typically ignore spacing and punctuation, a good palindrome is expected to make sense according to the syntax of their native language, not just be words in reverse.
I learned about palindromes in elementary school, and I found them a fun diversion. At the time, I really only knew of single word palindromes like bob, mom, and the like, but, while playing Might and Magic: Dark Side of Xeen in middle school, my friend and I came across a puzzle in the game where people spoke only in palindromes. At first we were a bit dumbfounded by the semi-nonsensical dialogue, but it eventually clicked with us. I think we had to look up the term, but we solved the puzzle. This added to my appreciation of palindromes.
There are many single word palindromes including: Anna, Ava, bob, civic, deified, deleveled, Eve, Hannah, kayak, level, madam, minim, mom, noon, Otto, racecar, radar, redder, redivider, refer, reviver, rotator, rotor, sagas, sexes, solos, stats, tenet, wow.
There are also plenty of short two or three word palindromes: "don't nod", "I did, did I?", "my gym", "top spot".
However, the more interesting ones are entire sentences, the longer, the better. Here are several that are 10 or more characters in length.
|11||Borrow or rob?|
|11||Dammit, I'm mad!|
|11||If I had a hi-fi.|
|11||Madam, I'm Adam.|
|11||Yo, banana boy!|
|12||Step on no pets.|
|13||Do geese see God?|
|13||Live not on evil.|
|13||Rise to vote, sir.|
|13||Was it a bat I saw? [you can swap out bat with cat, hat, mat, rat, or vat]|
|13||We panic in a pew.|
|14||Never odd or even.|
|14||No lemon, no melon!|
|15||A Toyota's a Toyota.|
|15||Too bad I hid a boot.|
|17||A nut for a jar of tuna.|
|17||Madam, in Eden, I'm Adam.|
|17||Red rum, sir, is murder.|
|19||Ma is as selfless as I am.|
|19||Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.|
|19||Was it a car or a cat I saw?|
|19||Won't lovers revolt now?|
|20||Live on time, emit no evil.|
|20||Rats live on no evil star.|
|21||A man, a plan, a canal – Panama.|
|21||Eva, can I see bees in a cave?|
|21||Murder for a jar of red rum.|
|21||Ten animals I slam in a net.|
|23||Drab as a fool, aloof as a bard.|
|26||Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog.|
|29||Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic|
|29||Ed! I saw Harpo Marx ram Oprah W. aside!|
|29||God, a red nugget. A fat egg under a dog.|
|32||Marge lets Norah see Sharon's telegram.|
|43||Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?|
|51||Doc, note: I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.|
|85||Are we not pure? "No, sir!" Panama's moody Noriega brags. "It is garbage!" Irony dooms a man—a prisoner up to new era.|
|85||T. Eliot, top bard, notes putrid tang emanating, is sad; I'd assign it a name: gnat dirt upset on drab pot toilet.|
Although palindromes are the reversal of each individual character of the phrase, people have also noted how you can form palindromes using word units. For example, "Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?" or "First ladies rule the State and state the rule: ladies first."
Other variations of a plaindrome include ambigrams, which are words or phrases drawn so they appear the same when rotated 180 degrees, and semordnilaps, which are words that form other words when spelled backwards.
Palindromes are mentioned in The Simpsons multiple times. In episode 1-2, Bart speaks to a gifted classmate who says, "O Memsahib, Bart. Rabbi has memo." In episode 3-22, bus driver Otto is fired and Principal Skinner takes over. When Bart sees Skinner driving, he asks what happened to Otto, and Skinner responds, "Otto? That's one palindrome you won't be hearing for a while." Later, in episode 10-22, Comic Book Guy interrupts a Mensa meeting about palindromes by saying, "Rise to vote, sir!" In episode 23-2, Barts reads a book about Teddy Roosevelt titled, "A Man, a Plan, a Canal, Panama! - The 800 Best-Loved Teddy Roosevelt Palindromes." Also, in Lisa Comics, issue 1, Lisa goes to backwards country where Otto and Bob speak in palindromes.
The video game Might and Magic: Dark Side of Xeen has a puzzle built around palindromes.