A type of verbal play in which a word or phrase is formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase, such as changing united to untied. Adjective: anagrammatic.
Etymology:From the Greek, "to rearrange letters in a word"
Examples and Observations:
- "My name is only an anagram of toilets."
- Monty Python's Man Who Talks in Anagrams
Presenter: Hello, good evening and welcome to another edition of "Blood, Devastation, Death, War & Horror." And later we'll be talking to a man who does gardening. But our first guest tonight is a man who talks entirely in anagrams.
Hamrag Yatlerot: Taht si crreoct.
Presenter: Do you enjoy this?
Hamrag Yatlerot: I stom certainly od. Revy chum so.
Presenter: And what is your name?
Hamrag Yatlerot: Hamrag, Hamrag Yatlerot.
Presenter: Well, Graham, nice to have you on the show. Now where do you come from?
Hamrag Yatlerot: Bumcreland.
Hamrag Yatlerot: Staht sit sepreicly.
(Michael Palin and Eric Idle in Monty Python's Flying Circus, 1972)
- Six Anagrams
Arnold Schwarzenegger: he’s grown large n’ crazed
Britney Spears: best PR in years
dormitory: dirty room
New York Times: monkeys write
evangelist: evil's agent
Clint Eastwood: Old West action
- Edwin Morgan's "Letter to a French Novelist"
O, a strap?
A rat sop
O. A. S. trap.
– Pat. Rosa.
(Edwin Morgan, "Letter to a French Novelist," 1964)
- The Anagrammatick Method in Gulliver's Travels
"But should this Method fail, recourse might be had to others more effectual, by Learned Men called Acrosticks and Anagrams. First, might be found Men of Skill and Penetration who can discern that all initial Letters have political Meanings. Thus N shall signify a Plot, B a Regiment of Horse, L a Fleet at Sea. Or secondly, by transposing the Letters of the Alphabet in any suspected Paper, who can discover the deepest Designs of a discontented Party. So for example, if I should say in a Letter to a Friend, Our Brother Tom has just got the Piles, a Man of Skill in this Art would discover how the same Letters which compose that Sentence, may be analysed into the following Words; Resist,-- a Plot is brought Home--The Tour. And this is the Anagrammatick Method."
(Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, Part III, Chapter Six)
- Caught Anagramming
"The head of the organic food giant Whole Foods has been caught touting his company and trashing a competitor in anonymous writings on the Internet. Using a pseudonym, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey . . . wrote under the screen name Rahodeb, an anagram for the name of his wife, Deborah."
(Frank Langfitt, "Lacihte? Whole Foods CEO Spams Under Anagram." NPR, July 12, 2007)
- Anagrams in The Da Vinci Code
"Anagrams are used in popular fiction from time to time. In Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code (2003, film version 2006), the lines O, draconian devil and Oh, lame saint written in blood on the body of the murdered curator of the Louvre are anagrams of Leonardo da Vinci and The Mona Lisa respectively. The central ideas of The Da Vinci Code can be found in an earlier book, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln (1982)."
(Barry J. Blake, Secret Language. Oxford Univ. Press, 2010)
- "A thin man ran; makes a large stride, left planet, pins flag on moon! On to Mars!"
(for Neil Armstrong's "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind")
- Lisa: Hey Ralph, want to come with me and Alison to play "Anagrams"?
Alison: We take proper names and rearrange the letters to form a description of that person.
Ralph Wiggum: My cat's breath smells like cat food.