Palindrome Definition

The term palindrome is derived from two Greek words “palin” means again and “dromos” means way or direction. It is defined as a number, a word, a sentence, a symbol or even signs that can be read forward as well as backward or in reserve order with the same effects and meanings.

In English, Ben Jonson was the first writer to introduce this term in the middle of the 17th century. There are two types of palindrome; word-unit palindrome or one-line palindrome. Some words such as civic, radar, level, rotor, and noon or word-unit palindrome, while “Was it a car or a cat I saw?” is an example of one-line palindrome.

Types of Palindromes

Palindromes are of many types, depending upon the requirements of the subject. The most commonly used types of palindromes are given here:

  • Character by Character
  • Name Palindromes
  • Word Palindrome
  • Number Palindromes
  • Line-unit Palindrome
  • Word-unit Palindrome

Palindrome Examples in Literature

There are many examples of Palindrome in prose, poetry and criticism. Let us take a look at some examples:

Example #1

“Lewd did I live & evil I did dwel.”
(O.Abootty, The Funny Side of English. Pustak Mahal, 2002)

This is the first sentence using a palindrome that appeared in English language, back in 1614. In this sentence the words read the same forward and backward.

Example #2

“T.S. Eliot, top bard, notes putrid tang emanating, is sad. I’d assign it a name: gnat dirt upset on drab pot-toilet.”
(Alastair Reid)

Palindrome can be seen in this sentence where the same names are given to T.S. Eliot in the beginning, “putrid tang” and also at the end of the sentence “gnat dirt upset on drab pot-toilet.”

Example #3

Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron.
(credited to poet W.H. Auden)

Palindrome is used as the author says that Norma and he both are unselfish.

Example #4

Entering the lonely house with my wife
I saw him for the first time
Peering furtively from behind a bush …

Blackness that moved,
A shape amid the shadows,
A momentary glimpse of gleaming eyes
Revealed in the ragged moon …

A closer look (he seemed to turn) might have
Revealed in the ragged moon
A momentary glimpse of gleaming eyes
A shape amid the shadows,
Blackness that moved.

Peering furtively from behind a bush,
I saw him, for the first time
Entering the lonely house with my wife.

(A Line-Unit Palindrome Poem, “Doppelgänger” by  James A. Lindon)

The above-mentioned poem gives the perfect example of a palindrome as it reads in the same manner from the first to the last line as it is going from the last line to the first line.

Example #5

Open floodgates,
once restrained tightly,
suddenly form rippled waters,
expressive thoughts flowing freely,
by frightful heart attending faithfully
faithfully attending heart frightful by
freely flowing expressive thoughts,
waters rippled form suddenly,
tightly restrained once,
floodgates open.

(A poem, Inspiration by Memory Trace)

This type of poetry is also called as mirrored poetry where palindrome sentences are used which read backward as well forward.

Example #6

Some famous names as fine palindrome examples:

  • Lon Nol was a  was Prime Minister of Cambodia
  • Nisio Isin was a Japanese novelist
  • Robert Trebor was an actor
  • Stanley Yelnats is a character of  a movie Holes


The purpose of using palindromes in writing, words, numbers and sentences is to create light entertainment and fun. However, some supporters have taken great initiatives in finding long palindromes that cover many sentences and in poetry. In ancient times the palindromes appeared in magic spells, and many have taken this reversibility as a convention.

Palindromes can be traced in classical and modern music poetry for rhythmical effects, in acoustics and in dates as well. Even several religious texts are full of palindromes and it is not just a chance that biologically our genes are also palindromes that their order is the same; forward as well as backward. A further interesting point is that numbers also fall in order to create palindromes such as 88, 99, 101, 111, 121, 131, 141, 151, 161, and 171 which can be read backward and forward in the same way.

Post navigation

1 comment for “Palindrome

  1. Jeanne.mccann
    December 12, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Example 2 is wrong: should be “t eliot” not “ts”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *