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april 01, 2002
Palindromes are structures incorporating their reflection. The reflection can be identical or wretched. Usually, a text palindrome reads the same forward as backwards. However, Sotades of Maronea (275 BC), one of the inventors of palindrome tradition who rewrote the entire Iliad in that form, wrote verses that, when read backwards yielded obscenity and personal defamation which eventually got him jailed and killed (none of his palindromes are known). The bidirectional formalism involved in creating palindromes make them small and funny gems in the OuLiPo tradition of constrained literature.

~ Introduction to the Noemata Palindrome Collection

From that day, I stopped parroting the words of Oh, God! God's love! and began to cant in my own backward tongue: Evol's dog! Dog ho!

~ Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

Learning about my strange palindromic birthday this year sparked an interest in palindromes in general. So I did a search on them. Mehtnoh craes a did I os. It turns out that while the rest of us are doing our best to remember the importance of changing our crankcase oil, attempting to balance the checkbook to within an error margin of $600, keeping in mind to remove the stove knobs so that the cats don't turn them on with their feet*, or trying not to give the same brother the same book for Christmas that we did last year and the year before**, others of us spend many happy hours composing palindromes.

Writing a palindrome is not easy. You have to be agile at thinking backwards as well as forwards. I have enough of a challenge thinking forwards. Actually, most of the time I tend to think sideways.

Which is why my favorite palindrome is not a palindrome at all, but a pseudopalindrome.

Below are some of the more notable palindromes that I found. I recommend reading them aloud to someone who appreciates surrealism. However, I must warn that if you suffer from aibophobia, read no further.

Oh, cameras are macho.

Ram O Hamas, Osamah, Omar!

I prefer pi.

U.F.O. tofu.

Is it a datisi? No, sire, ferison.

Lonely Tylenol.

I roamed under it as a tired, nude Maori.

Drab as a fool, aloof as a bard.

Dr. Awkward

Are poets a waste? Opera!

Never odd or even.

Niagara, O roar again.

A Santa spit taboo bat tips at NASA.

Er, go on, trap Steven in, I say. Me oh my! Nor can an "air" bee sew. We see, Brian. An acronym? Hoe my asinine vet's part? No, ogre!

Elapsed or esteemed, all Ade meets erodes pale.

Eva, can I pose as Aesop in a cave?

Golf? No sir. Prefer prison flog.

Amy, must I jujitsu my ma?

Draw, O coward!

Flee to me, remote elf!

Aim, ed: academia.

"Hot new lasagna, Sire - toot a tooter!" I sang, as Al went "Oh!"

Gustav Klimt milk vats. Ug!

An ole' crab was I ere I saw Barcelona.

No, Sir, panic is a basic in a prison.

Nell, are we sanitary? Riah ate snot, so Boston set a hairy rat in a sewer, Allen.

Ay, not too hot to hoot tons o' snot; too hot to hoot Tonya!

"No parts in a video?" Tony asks. "Ed's desk? Say no to Ed, Ivan. I strap on!" Eva: "Strap on what? Oh. Never mind."

"Nella, no, startle Fiona!" "Mama, no, I felt rats on Allen!"

Amy met a slab in Nacho Land. Edna L., cannibals ate my ma.

Tivoli, I lov’ it!

Cigar? Toss it in a can, it is so tragic.

Straw? No, too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts.

No, I save on final perusal--a sure plan, if no evasion.

I, madam. I made radio! So I dared! Am I mad? Am I?

Etna: lave devalante. (Etna: spreading lava.)

Elu par cette crapule. (Elected by this. . . ?)

A l'autel elle alla, elle le tua la (To the altar she went, she killed him there.)

Rode, Sire, ce nu désir irisé d'une cerise d'or. (Try, Lord, this nude iridescent desire of a golden cherry.)

Nie fragt sie: ist gefegt? Sie ist gar fein (She never asks, "Is the sweeping been done?" She is very refined.)

Ein Neger mit Gazelle zagt im Regen nie.(A negro with gazelle never despairs in rain.)

Sé orar -- raro es. (I can pray -- it's strange.)

Átale, demoníaco Caín, o me delata. (Tie him up, demoniac Cain, or he'll betray me.)

No te comas la salsa, mocetón! (Don't eat the sauce, little guy!)

¿Amor sodomita? A ti modos, Roma. (Sodomitic love? no one'll teach you manners, Rome.)

Raza, oh cese de dones, seres! Eres seno de desecho azar. (Race, oh stopping of gifts and beings! Shattered fate is inside you.)

Amore, Roma!

Dameskib, Biksemad (Ladyship, called Danish food)

Damejer Nis Berg greb sin rejemad. (Pond owner Nis Berg gripped his prawnfood.)

Elg udnytter ret tynd ugle. (Moose abuses pretty thin owl.)

Tomaattimatokotamittaamot. (Tomato-worm pupa measuring places)

Mar ujra var a varju ram. (Once again, the crow is waiting for me)

Argentina, la lluna anul la la nit negra. (Argentina, the moon overturns the black night.)

Subi dura a rudibus. (Endure rough treatement from uncultured brutes.)

A Nap, a Lamb, ab mal ap ana. (He who is holy shall not nap with lambs.)

Ancient Greek:
Nipson anomemata me monan opsin. (Wash the sin as well as the face.)

TriLingual (Spanish/English/Ebonics):
A mama

Ammo, Momma!

C (actually outputs itself when run):
main(){char*a=/*/};)q,q,a,q,q,811+a(ftnirp;'=q,/**//**/main(){char*a=/*/ };)q,q,a,q,q,811+a(ftnirp;'c%'=q,/**/c%s%c%/**/,q='c%';printf(a+118,q,q,a,q,q); }/*/=a*rahc{)(niam/**/main(){char*a=/*/};)q,q,a,q,q,811+a(ftnirp;'%c'=q,/**/%c% s%c/**/,q='%c';printf(a+118,q,q,a,q,q);}/*/=a*rahc{)(niam/**//**/,q=';printf (a+118,q,q,a,q,q);}/*/=a*rahc{)(niam

Celebrity Palindromes!
Ed, I saw Harpo Marx ram Oprah W. aside.

No, Mel Gibson is a casino's big lemon.

Is Don Adams mad? (A nod.) Si!

Sis, ask Costner to not rent socks "as is"!

Tarzan raised Desi Arnaz' rat.

Goldenrod-adorned log

Amaryllis sillyrama

On a clover, if alive, erupts a vast, pure evil; a fire volcano.

So, camera solos are MacOS?

Rats drown in WordStar.

Parcel bare ferret up mock computer-referable crap.

Religious and/or Satanic Palindromes:
Live not on evil.

Allah la valhalla.

We panic in a pew.

Evil I did dwell, lewd did I live.

Am God: Dogma!

Dogma in my hymn: I am God.

Deirdre wets altar of St. Simons - no mists, for at last ewer dried.

Do Good's deeds live on? No, Evil's deeds do, O God.

Do good? I? No! Evil anon I deliver. I maim nine more hero-men in Saginaw, sanitary sword a-tuck, Carol, I--lo!--rack, cut a drowsy rat in Aswan. I gas nine more hero-men in Miami. Reviled, I (Nona) live on. I do, O God!

Did I do, O God, did I as I said I'd do? Good, I did!

Do, O God, no evil deed, live on, do good.

I, Rasputin, knit up Sari.

Lived on Decaf, faced no Devil.

God! A red nugget! A fat egg under a dog!

"Reviled did I live," said I, "as evil I did deliver."

Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.

O Memsahib, Bart! Rabbi has memo!

Amen enema. (From The Poisonwood Bible)

Palindromes featuring T.S. Eliot and/or a toilet:
Put Eliot's toilet up.

T. Eliot nixes sex in toilet!

T. Eliot, top bard, notes putrid tang emanating, is sad. "I'd assign it a name: gnat dirt upset on drab pot toilet."

Devil dogs at NASA and elsewhere:
God lived as a devil dog.

Ah, Satan, dog-deifier! (Oh who reified God, Natasha?)

A Santa dog lived as a devil god at NASA.

"I Love Me, Vol. I."

Are we not drawn onward, we few? Drawn onward to new era?

Ah Moses - Omaha!

Existentialist palindrome:
Camus sees sumac.

News Headlines:
Rot-corpse Sumatran art amuses proctor.

Gateman sees name, garageman sees name tag.

Marge lets Norah see Sharon's telegram.

Al lets Della call Ed Stella.

E. Borgnine drags Dad's gardening robe.

Palindrome referring to Odin, Queen of the Desert:
A relic, Odin! I'm a mini, docile Ra!

Palindromes reviling pop singer Madonna:
Plan no damn Madonna LP!

Yawn. Madonna Fan? No damn way!

Political Palindromes:
Rise to vote, sir.

Rise, Sir Lapdog! Revolt, lover! God, pal, rise, sir!

Star comedy by democrats

Star? Come Donna Melba, I'm an amiable man, no Democrats!

A coup d'etat saved devastated Puoca.

A new order began, a more Roman age bred Rowena.

A pre-war dresser drawer, Pa!

A pain - a blast - ah, that's Albania, Pa!

Wonder if Sununu's fired now.

Palindromes referring to sex and/or sluttishness:
"Eva, can I peer?" Cadet Asa sated a creep in a cave.

Go! Desire vagina! Man I gave. Rise, dog.

Dennis sinned.

Dennis and Edna sinned.

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.

Dennis, no misfit can act if Simon sinned.

O tarts! A castrato!

Solo gigolos.

Ah, an ox Xeroxes senile felines, sex, or Exxon - aha!

Sex at noon taxes.

A slut nixes sex in Tulsa.

Tulsa night life: filth, gin, a slut.

Name tarts? No, medieval slave, I demonstrate Man!

Otto did Bob did Otto

From the Deb's Bed series:
Did I do nine men in Deb's bed? "Nine men," I nod, "I did!"

Drinking Palindromes:
Lager, sir, is regal.

Pint a' catnip.

No peel, sir. Eire, eerie, elates pumas. Sam upset ale. Eire eerier, I sleep on...

Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots!

BEST OF SHOW: Yo, Bottoms up! (U.S. motto, boy.)

Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna.

'Tis in a DeSoto sedan I sit

BEST CAR PALINDROME: A Toyota! Race fast, safe car. A Toyota.

Our Animal Friends:
Eva, can I stab bats in a cave?

Laminated E.T. animal

Step on no pets.

"Elk carcinoma, Ramon," I crackle.

Deer flee freedom in Oregon? No, Geronimo - deer feel freed.

Rats live on no evil star.

Gnu dung.

Senile felines.

Was that a cat I saw?

Animal loots foliated detail of stool lamina.

Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.

Top step's pup's pet spot.


Palindromes specifically about fish:
I ham, I ham, yum -- muy "mahi mahi!"

Rail, Marian! I defiled docile Eli cod (deli-fed) in air, am liar!

Doc, note, I dissent: A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.

Palindromes with Zulu references:
"I, a Zulu, feel God!" Ewes (I ran!) arise: "We do, gleeful Uzai!"

"I, a Zulu, fit udder on," snored dutiful Uzai.

Palindrome that would make an excellent epitaph for a loved one:
O, stone, be not so.

Variations on A man, a plan, a canal: Panama:
A dog, a plan, a canal: pagoda.

A man, a pain, a mania - Panama.

A Dan, a clan, a canal - Canada!

A rimless abyss, a sassy bass - Elmira!

A man, a plan, a butt tub. Anal Panama!

A man, a pal, Al, Art, a tra-la-la - Panama!

A man, a people, Tom's Motel, Poe - Panama!

A man, a post, a fare, a salad, a laser, a fatso - Panama!

A man, a peso, ogres, saps, a gas-passer goose - Panama!

A man, a pseudomorph, Sartre's old loser trash-promo dues - Panama!

A harem - a canoe, Cale. Oh shut up! Put - uh - shoelace on a camera. Ha!

A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros' rajahs, a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag, a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo, cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal - Panama!

A man, a plan, a palindrome: Emordnilapanalpanama!

Square Palindrome (carved on a rock outside of Rome):

Whole-word Palindromes:
You can cage a swallow, can't you, but you can't swallow a cage, can you?

"Son I am able," she said, "Though you scare me." "Watch," said I, "Beloved," I said, "Watch me scare you though." Said she, "Able am I, Son."

Infinite palindrome:
And DNA and DNA and DNA ...

Knight, I ask nary rank, saith gink

Rettebs iflahd noces, eh? ttu, but the second half is better

Doctor Reubenstein was shocked and dismayed when he answered the ringing telephone, only to hear a strange, metallic, alien voice say, Yasec! Iovn eilacilla temeg! Nartsa raehoty lnoenoh pelet gnig, nirehtde rewsnaehn ehw. Deya! Msid! Dnadek cohssaw nietsne buerro, tcod?


November 30, 2005: Robert King Stierle, www.dogeatdogma.com/bobdog, author of some of the palindromes on this page has sent his most recent palindrome:

In words, alas, drown I.

Which can be shortened to In words, drown I. or lengthened to In word salad, alas, drown I.

Note: My thanks to the composers of these many excellent palindromes.

*This really happened. Pia turned on the stove with her foot.

** This also really happened.

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