Palindromes are sequences of letters, words, musical notes, or numbers (example: 2002) which read the same forwards as backwards. They even appear in molecular biology in the sequencing of nucleotides.

The first known use of the word "palindrome" was around 1629. It comes from the Greek palindromos meaning "running back again", from palin "back, again" + dramein "to run". However, sequences displaying this characteristic appeared earlier. According to Pustak Mahal who wrote The Funny Side of English in 2002, "The first palindromic sentence in English appeared in 1614: Lewd did I live & evil I did dwel."

People have been enjoying this form of word play for a very long time and not only in English. In fact, palindromes date back to at least 70AD. The first known palindrome was found among graffiti at Herculaneum, an ancient city of south-central Italy on the Bay of Naples buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. It was written in Latin and read "sator arepo tent opera rotas" which means either:

The sower Arepo holds the wheels with effort.
The sower Arepo leads with his hand the plough.

Perhaps not grammatically stellar, but fun anyway. Palindromes were also found in the ancient Greek language and in ancient Sanskrit.

While the listing below gives examples of character by character palindromes, they can also be formed with whole words. An example of the use of whole words to form a palindromic sentence is "First ladies rule the State and state the rule: ladies first."

  • Able was I ere I saw Elba.
  • A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!
  • Anna
  • Avid diva
  • Bird rib
  • Bob
  • Boob
  • Borrow or rob?
  • Civic
  • Dad
  • Deed
  • Deified
  • Deleveled
  • Did
  • Don't nod.
  • Drawn onward.
  • Dud
  • Eve
  • Ewe
  • Eye
  • Gag
  • Gig
  • Go dog!
  • Hanah
  • Hannah
  • He did, eh?
  • I did, did I?
  • I prefer pi.
  • Kayak
  • Kook
  • Level
  • Madam
  • Madam, I'm Adam.
  • Mom
  • Noon
  • Now I won!
  • Nun
  • Nurses run.
  • Otto
  • Pap
  • Party trap
  • Peep
  • Pep
  • Pip
  • Poop
  • Poor Dan is in a droop.
  • Pop
  • Pup
  • Pot top
  • Racecar
  • Radar
  • Redder
  • Red rum, sir, is murder.
  • Refer
  • Repaper
  • Rotator
  • Rotavator
  • Rotor
  • Sagas
  • Sees
  • Sexes
  • Solos
  • Spacecaps
  • Star rats
  • Tattarrattat (The longest palindrome in the Oxford English Dictionary.)
  • Tenet
  • Testset
  • Toot
  • Top spot
  • Tot
  • Tut
  • We few.
  • Won't it now?
  • Wow!

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