Have you ever heard of The Sator Square? It is a very old stone with Latin writing on it. It says:
“Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas“
(This means, “The sower Arepo holds with effort the wheels”)
The interesting thing about this Latin sentence is, that it is an ancient example of a palindrome; a word or sentence which is spelt the same backwards, as it is forwards.
Look at this sentence:
Was it a car or a cat I saw
This is another example of a palindrome sentence because the phrase reads the same backwards as forwards.
Regular examples of palindromes are used in everyday English speech, though you may not notice them until you see them written down.
Common English Palindromes
- Civic – means relating to a city or town
- Kayak – a small watercraft
- Level – a position, a scale, an amount
- Noon – midday
- Racecar – fast automobile
- Refer – mention or allude to
- Wow – expression of excitement
- Madam – formal address for a lady
- Nun –woman dedicated to catholic religion
- Pop – to burst
- Peep – to take a sly look
- Yay – an enthusiastic expression of yes
- Gag – a joke or a piece of cloth put over a person’s mouth
- Mom – American word for mother
- Tattarrattat – a knock on the door, the longest palindrome in the English dictionary and it is also onomatopoeic
Palindromes in Names
Some companies have created their name as a palindrome (Sonos, Oxo, Nissin) – and there a handful of names that are spelled the same both forwards and backwards. Do you know a Hannah, an Ava or an Aviva? Surely you know an Anna, and you have heard of (Adam and) Eve? Do you have a Bob or an Otto in your circle of friends?
Palindromes in Place names
There are lots of place names that follow this rule too – with a few towns across the world called plain and simply, A!
Wassamassaw is a place in South Carolina, USA, and it is also one of the longest place names that is also a palindrome!
Start with a general English course at one of our language schools, and work your way up to the fun facts like these as you advance!