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History of Palindromes

Palindromes as a form of wordplay have been created for many centuries. For example, the ancient Greeks are known to have often inscribed the following onto their fountains:

Nipson anomemata me monan opsin.

It translates as wash the sin as well as the face. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the above it not actually a palindrome. This is because we have written it using letters of the English alphabet; when Greek characters are used it is a palindrome because ps is a single letter in Greek (Y).

The Romans were also admirers of palindromes, and produced such sentences as:

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

It means we enter the circle after dark and are consumed by fire and is said to describe the movement of moths.

The following 2D palindrome square also dates back to Roman times. It is inscribed on a stone tablet outside Rome in Italy and is the earliest known 2D palindrome.

Sator Arepo tenet opera rotas means the sower Arepo works with the help of a wheel.

More 2D palindromes.

More on Palindromes

Find out more about palindromes by reading our explanation of palindromes and exploring our list of palindromes. We have a whole section devoted to the famous A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama palindrome, including an article discussing the Panama Palindrome's origin. There is a page of word palindromes and line palindrome poetry. If you want more, don't forget you can alway visit the palindromes books section of our online wordplay bookstore!

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