Headbloom Blog

Palindrome Observance: Feb. 1, 2012

The date today, in the United States, is a palindrome. That is, it is written the same way frontwards and backwards. February 1, 2012 is shortened to 2 1 12. Reversing the order gives the same sequence: 2 1 1 2. (Of course, elsewhere, January 2 this year was a palindrome date since most countries abbreviate the date with the day first and month second.)

Years can be palindromes as well. I have experienced two in my lifetime: 1991 and 2002. The next palindromic year won’t happen until 2112. The one that happened before my lifetime occurred in 1881 (18 years before my grandfather was born). Some people will be lucky enough to experience this twice in their lifetimes. My grandparents and grandchildren, on the other hand, will never experience such a year.

Word nerds have the most fun with language palindromes, using letters of the alphabet. A number of names are written as palindromes: Otto, Anna, Hannah, Eve, Dad, Mom, Bob, Nan, (the language) Malayalam, and (the rock band) Abba.

Simple words can also be palindromes: radar, toot, racecar, noon, did, dud, madam, pop, bib, aha, gag, level, wow, deed, nun, repaper, peep, sexes, solos, SOS, pup, ma’am, boob, pep, kook, redivider, stats, poop, and bub.

As a bigger challenge, phrases or whole sentences can be made as palindromes. Among my favorites are these:

  • A man, a plan, a canal: Panama! (perhaps the most famous palindrome)
  • A Toyota…race fast…safe car…a Toyota!
  • Some men interpret nine memos.
  • Eve damned Eden, mad Eve.

And finally, sentences can be constructed using individual words frontwards and backwards as here:

  • All for one and one for all.
  • Will you say yes? Say you will!
  • Do you know? I know you do!
  • Till farmers can plant, can farmers till?
  • Tell William: that bugs reproduce bugs that William Tell.
  • First Ladies rule the state and state the rule “ladies first.”
  • Women understand men; few men understand women.

Have fun thinking up others! Send me your best samples!

Alan Headbloom