Spanish as a language

Perpetual motion. Palindromes and anagrams in Spanish

The word palindrome comes from the Greek meaning “that runs in reverse.” Poetic. Now, in simple words, a palindrome is a phrase or word that can be read equally from left to right and from right to left. Anagrams, meanwhile, are words (or phrases) that result from the transposition of letters within another word.

Palindromes and anagrams are language exercises that turn it into a game and challenge of ingenuity. These games are so old that Duncan Fishwick, British historian, and world authority in Roman history, said that palindrome composition was a pastime of the Roman nobility. One of the most famous multiple palindromes is the famous Sator Square, found in the ruins of Pompeii and present in other remains of Roman buildings.

This palindrome is made up of five letters written in Latin and arranged so that they can be read from left to right or vice versa and from top to bottom and vice versa:






The meaning of this palindrome is still a subject of study and debate, as opinions are divided between those who give it a religious, cabalistic, or other interpretation linked to the daily events of the time.

Amor, Roma y mora

In contemporary Spanish, one of the excellent references to palindromes is the Guatemalan writer Augusto Monterroso, master of the short story and a prolific inventor of many palindromes.

Monterroso spoke about this game in his text Onís es asesino, an accusatory palindrome, where he reflects on the art of wordplay and how Spanish seems to be a particularly conducive language for wordplay. In this text, he takes a tour of different games that can be played with words, describing meetings with other writers in which they spent entire afternoons or nights playing and sharing his creations. Here are some examples:

¡Acá, caca! Augusto Monterroso

[Here, poop!]

Amo a la paloma. Carlos Illescas.

[I love the Dove]

Odio la luz azul al oído. Rubén Bonifaz Nuño

[I hate the blue light in my ear]

Madam, I’m Adam. James Joyce.

Somos laicos, Adán; nada social somos. Carlos Illescas.

[We are lay, Adam; We are not at all social]

Anagrams are a linguistic game like the palindrome, but less demanding: amor, Roma y mora are all anagrams, but there are also longer ones such as Camilo Ruge, anagram of murciélago (bat).

Anagrams are also a method of encrypting messages, like Lalo Barrubia, a Uruguayan writer (she) whose pseudonym is an anagram of la loba rubia (the blonde wolf). Avida Dollars is another great example of an anagram with an encrypted message. It corresponds to the anagram that André Breton devised to refer disparagingly to Salvador Dalí and his thirst for money at the expense of that of the creator.

Keep learning curiosities about the language and the Spanish language, visiting and reading the articles we publish weekly on the iScribo blog. If you are looking to improve your Spanish writing and correct a specific variant of this language, remember to subscribe to our wonderful grammar checker. We are waiting for you!

Want more Spanish tips?

Get them direct to your inbox

Sign up for tips and tricks to perfect your Spanish writing skills. You’ll be writing like a native in no time.

Free Trial until 30 September 2021: Our subscription programme does not start until 1 October 2021. So, as long as you provide us with a feedback you can use our site for free until noon 30 September 2021 (GMT)