A palindrome is a word, phrase or sentence that reads the same left to right as it does right to left. The simplest are short words like “mom” or “dad.” Both are the same word with the same pronunciation. Many other words are simple palindromes, such as “radar.” Palindromes go back to classical times; Greeks and Roman writers were fond of word  play. Palindromes usually only make sense in their original language. An Italian example is amore roma.

In English, there are dozens of words that are natural palindromes. The same word results if you spell it backwards. Examples include radar, racecar, refer, civic and many other words.

Writing a new palindrome requires skill. Sometimes a palindrome has a bit of a political bite. For example, the most famous American palindrome is probably “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama” referring to Teddy Roosevelt’s and the Panama Canal. Roosevelt engineered Panama’s secession from Colombia.

Another well-known palindrome is “Able was I, ere I saw Elba,” referring to French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile on the island of Elba, off the coast of Italy. after he was defeated (he escaped from Elba, was finally defeated at Waterloo and finally exiled to far away St. Helena, in the South Atlantic). 

Among the better known palindromes in English are “Do geese see god?”, “Madam I’m Adam,” and “Red rum, sir, is murder,” and “a nut for a jar of tuna.”

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