A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sentence that is spelled the same backwards and forwards. It’s easy enough to think of words that meet these conditions, like pop, radar and racecar, but full sentences are more challenging and interesting. The best palindromic sentences make some sort of sense, but still have an unusual poetic or humorous quality. Many websites have published extensive lists of palindromes of varying quality, and I have carefully reviewed all of them in order to present to you the very best palindromes of all time.
Top Ten Palindromes of All Time
- Flee to me, remote elf.
- Doc, note, I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.
- Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
- Pull up if I pull up.
- Straw? No, too simple a fad. I put soot on warts.
- Live not on evil deed, live not on evil.
- Rise to vote, sir.
- No, son. Onanism’s a gross orgasm sin—a no-no, son.
- Won’t lovers revolt now?
- Now, Eve, we’re here, we’ve won.
For a comprehensive treatment of palindromes, check out Language on Vacation, by Dmitri A. Borgmann. This classic work tackles anagrams and other word play as well.
One type of word that is very useful in constructing palindromic sentences is a semordnilap. The word “semordnilap,” coined by Martin Gardner, refers to a word that spells a different word backwards, such as desserts/stressed or deliver/reviled.
Another type of palindrome substitutes words for letters. Examples:
- You can cage a swallow, can’t you, but you can’t swallow a cage, can you?
- Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?
Finally, there are line-for-line palindromic poems, where the first line matches the last line, the second line matches the penultimate line, and so on.
A very small number of palindromes are not only spelled the same backwards and forwards, but will also read the same in a mirror or when rotated.
Demetri Martin has written palindromic poems and stories. Here’s an example.
In honor of Palindrome Week here is a 500-word palindrome from my first book, This Is A Book By Demetri Martin. pic.twitter.com/CAOsftqhSe
— Demetri Martin (@DemetriMartin) April 15, 2014
Here’s xkcd’s twist:
Finally, Weird Al Yankovic recorded a song made entirely of palindromes, appropriately entitled “Bob.”