Monday, June 11, 2012

A Ram Sang

Anagrams have been around at least since the Greeks invented the word anagrammatismos, meaning “transposition of letters.”  Perhaps the concept is even older, dating to the time of Moses, when Themaru, or “changing,” was allegedly used to find hidden meanings in names. The Hebrew letters in Noah, for example, could be rearranged to spell the word for “grace” or those in Messiah to spell “he shall rejoice.”

The earliest Greek anagrammatist is thought to be Lycophron, a poet who flourished around 280 B.C.  He liked to make anagrams of names, including one about Atlas, the Greek letters of which can be arranged, to mean “wretched” (presumably because of his being bent over with the weight of the world).

Nowadays we have the help of a website at, which has an anagram server that can instantaneously produce hundreds and sometimes thousands of words from famous names. 

With a stretch of the imagination, you can even make a wee bit of sense out of some of them, especially if the words are laid out like telegraphic newspaper headlines:

Inert Passerby
Britney Spears
(Best in Prayer)
Betrays Sniper,
Nips Betrayers,
Nearby Priests

Aeolian Jingle:
Join Agile, Lean
Angelina Jolie
In Jail—Ale Gone,
Alien Jig Alone

Noah and Silly
Lindsay Lohan
Had Only Nails,
Dahlia Nylons,
Shady Lanolin,
And Holy Snail

So much for the famous ladies of song and screen. What about politicians?

Well, there’s the famous rearrangement of George Bush to spell He bugs gore. Or better yet: Go, hug beers. Unfortunately, the best you can do with Gore’s name is the ungrammatical A ogler, or maybe Lo gear.

I tried my hand with politicians who are currently in the news and came up with the following bits of gibberish:

Moment I Try
Mitt Romney
I Torment My
Enmity to M.R.

Too bad Rick Santorum is no longer in the running, as his name lends itself to dozens of richly suggestive anagrams:

Rick Santorum,
Tourism Crank,
Struck A Minor
In Scrotum Ark;
Mourns A Trick
Run Riot, Smack
Into Rum Racks.
Rumors: Catkin
Rusk Romantic

But, alas, our President’s name has too many vowels and not enough consonants to yield much meaning:

Barack Obama
Amok!  Bar A Cab!
Ram A Boa Back!
Bam! Croak! Baa!

The Anagram Server can make 71,439 anagrams out of The Bard of Buffalo Bayou—not one of which makes any sense, and that is entirely appropriate.

            This is an anagram—
            A maharani’s sting
            Gains artisan ham,
            Ah! As mantra I sing!

            I, Satan, mash a ring,
            Again smash train,
            A mania has string,
            A gamin has strain.

           Asthma rains gain,
           A gas marina hints,
           Again harms stain--
           Aha! Sangria mints.

No comments:

Post a Comment