I. What is an Anagram?
In J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter series, it is revealed that “Tom Marvolo Riddle” is, in fact, the dreaded Lord Voldemort. The revelation comes in the form of an anagram, as the letters of his name rearranged reveal the answer: “I am Lord Voldemort.” Anagrams are a type of word play in which letters of a word or phrase are rearranged to create new words and phrases.
II. Examples of Anagram
Anagrams make for interesting code names and jumbling word games alike. Here are a few simple examples of anagrams at work:
A gentleman à Elegant man
This anagram is fun and unique because the meaning stays the same: a gentleman is, in fact, an elegant man!
The eyes à They see
This anagram is interesting in that it explains the definition of the other.
Election results à Lies—let’s recount
This anagram, like some others, is humorous, as oftentimes election results are accused of being incorrect and in need of a recount.
III. The Importance of Anagrams
Anagrams have been used as far back as the third century BCE for mysterious, meaningful, and hidden names. To this day, they are used in everyday speech and literature alike. Anagrams can be used as a simple yet intellectual game to flex the brain. They are also often used by authors in order to create pseudonyms. Anagrammatic names provide literary and real-life characters with layers of hidden meaning, meaning which can only be found by careful readers and decoders.
IV. Examples of Anagrams in Literature
Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code uses a wide variety of anagrams as a murdered museum curator has left clues. Here are a few:
- O, Draconian devil! for Leonardo da Vinci
- Oh, lame saint for The Mona Lisa
- So dark the con of man for Madonna of the Rocks
For more examples of anagrams in literature, consider the names of the writers themselves:
- Vladimir Nabokov injects himself into his novel Lolita with the character of Vivian Darkbloom, an anagram of his own name.
- Edward Gorey published under many anagrammatic pen names including Ogdred Weary, Dogear Wryde, and Ms. Regera Dowdy.
Anagrams create mystery and depth in words that are otherwise understood simply on the surface level. They also allow writers to hide their identities with anagrammatic pseudonyms.
V. Examples of Anagrams in Pop Culture
Anagrams may be found in everyday conversation, wordplay, literature, and pop culture as well. Here are a few examples of anagrams used in pop culture:
In the movie The Matrix, the area between the real world and the matrix is known as Mobil. Mobil is an anagram for “limbo,” meaning the area between heaven and hell.
For a simpler example, consider The Simpson’s character Bart. Bart is an anagram for “brat,” as the character is often a bratty son.
Anagrams reveal character traits, the true meaning of names given to places, and secrets.
VI. Related Terms
Wordplay is a popular and fun way to juice up a sentence or conversation. Here are a few literary devices similar to anagram:
Like anagrams, palindromes require that we read words and phrases differently, though palindromes are simply words or phrases that read logically both forwards and backwards. Here are a few examples of palindromes you may have noticed:
- Stop à pots
- Stressed à desserts
- Step on no pets à Step on no pets
Just like anagrams, palindromes can form within one word or among many.
Like anagrams, acronyms take a set of words and create a new meaning with them. More specifically, though, acronyms are abbreviations whose set of letters create a meaningful word. Here are a few examples of how sets of words become acronyms:
- Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus à Scuba
- Students, Parents, and Educators Across Knoxville à SPEAK
- Together everyone achieves more à TEAM
Palindromes, acronyms, and anagrams alike contain words or phrases with multiple meaning through the use of wordplay.
VII. In Closing
Anagrams have a wide variety of uses, from the casual and fun word game to the serious and sometimes genius usage in coding and trickery. Anagrams challenge us to think beyond the first meaning, to jumble up words, and to find what is hidden underneath.