[Alternate anagrams include “Puzzle patron, now daily” and “Plow into any rad puzzle.”]
Anagrams are a cornerstone of modern pen-and-paper puzzling.
They make frequent appearances in cryptic (or British-style) crossword clues, and many puzzles and puzzle games — from Anagram Magic Square and Text Twist to Secret Word and Bananagrams — rely heavily on anagrams as an integral part of the solve.
I’ve written about them several times in the past, but for the uninitiated, an anagram is a reordering of the letters in a word to form a new word or phrase. PEALS anagrams into LEAPS, PALES, LAPSE, SEPAL, and PLEAS.
As the old joke goes, “stifle” is an anagram of itself.
But the best anagrams rearrange the letters in a word into something related to that word. Fans of The Simpsons may recall that Alec Guinness anagrams into “genuine class.”
There are numerous examples of great anagrams all over the Internet. Here are a few classics:
- The eyes = they see
- Clint Eastwood = Old West action
- Eleven plus two = Twelve plus one
- Dormitory = Dirty room
- A decimal point = I’m a dot in place
- A gentleman = Elegant man
One of the best online anagram programs out there is hosted by wordsmith.org, and at the top of their page, they remind us that “internet anagram server” anagrams into “I, rearrangement servant.”
You can find some unexpected surprises when you play with anagrams. Did you know that William Shakespeare anagrams into both “I am a weakish speller” and “I’ll make a wise phrase”?
There are entire forums online dedicated to terrific anagrams, some fiendishly clever, others impressively insightful. (Of course, sometimes crafty punctuation makes all the difference.)
Madame Curie becomes “Me? Radium Ace.”
Monty Python’s Flying Circus becomes “Strongly psychotic, I’m funny.”
The possibilities seem endless when you delve into longer phrases. I’m going to close out this tribute to anagrams with two of the most amazing ones I’ve encountered during my time as a puzzler.
The first involves the iconic line as humanity took its first steps onto the surface of the Moon:
Neil Armstrong: That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind
Thin man ran; makes (a) large stride, left planet, pins flag on moon! On to Mars!
[I’ve included both what Neil said and what was broadcast back to Earth. Hence, the A in parentheses in both versions.]
The second takes one of Shakespeare’s best known lines and offers some engagingly meta commentary on the play itself:
To be or not to be, that is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…
In one of the Bard’s best-thought-of-tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten.
So whether you’re playing Scrabble or tackling David L. Hoyt‘s Jumble, anagramming is a worthwhile tool that belongs in every puzzler’s skillset.
Do you have any favorite anagrams, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let me know! I’d love to see them!
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