What is a palindrome?
In palindromes, spacing, punctuation, and capitalization are usually ignored. For example, the phrase “Borrow or rob?” becomes “borroworrob” when we remove the spaces and punctuation and convert all letters to lowercase. Because it maintains its symmetry if read backward, it is a palindrome.
Palindromes are primarily used because they are entertaining for both readers and writers. Their appeal lies in the intellectual challenge they present. Constructing symmetrical words or phrases requires a skillful use of language. Writers sometimes use palindromes as a form of constrained writing, a literary technique in which the writer imposes certain rules and limits to their writing.
Frequently asked questions about palindromes
What are some common types of wordplay?
Wordplay is using words in a witty, clever, and amusing way. Wordplay typically involves experimenting with the sounds, meanings, or construction of words. These are some common types of wordplay:
- Anagrams: rearranging the letters within a word so as to spell another word or words. An anagram of “angered” is “derange.”
- Puns: experimenting with the different meanings of a word or with words that sound similar, like “ate” and “eight.”
- Palindromes: words, phrases, or sentences that are spelled the same way backward and forward.
- Malapropisms: mixing up a word or phrase with a similar-sounding one that has a completely different meaning. For example, “a wealthy typhoon” instead of “tycoon.”
- Paraprosdokians: ending a sentence in a way that is unexpected and causes the reader or listener to reinterpret the beginning, resulting in humor or surprise. For example, “there are three kinds of people in the world—those who can count, and those who can’t.”
What is constrained writing?
Constrained writing is a literary technique in which writers adhere to certain limits, patterns, or rules in their writing. For example, palindromes are sometimes used in poetry to create verses that can be read from the beginning to the end and vice versa.