Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Joy of Anagrams

Mixing It Up for Pleasure’s Sake

For a while now I’ve been obsessed with anagrams. Totally obsessed. Bloody tasteless, you say? A less bloody test, I say. Everyone should “Self Anagram,” that is, rearrange the letters of your name to spell something else. I particularly like my Self Anagram I ZAP A BULLOCK. It was timely when I wrote this post, seeing how Sandra Bullock was nominated for an Oscar for her role as an astronaut drifting through space. She didn’t win, ergo the befitting ZAP. Although the I is inappropriate because I voted for La Bullock in a friend’s Oscar poll. (I thought she would win, even though I didn’t see Gravity, but, come on, it’s Sandra Bullock. Isn’t she at the height of her career?)


My favorite anagrams, though, limit themselves to one word and, as a special bonus, are antigrams, which are anagrams that are opposite in meaning. One of the most obvious, or well-known, antigrams is united / untied. Wonderfully straightforward in its contrariness. Here are a few more, including our fine example. You may have to stretch your imagination just a tad to discover their oppositional nature:

united / untied
pit / tip
abet / beat
rousing / souring
restful / fluster
prenatal / parental
striking / skirting
conversation / conservation
morose / romeos (unless of course Romeo is behaving like a Werther)
compliant / complaint

I must confess here that one of my favorite antigrams challenges my one-word favoritism and measures in at two words: apart / a part. Lovely.

I also get psyched for any anagrams that have a relationship other than oppositional to one another. Here are a few examples:

lips / lisp (both oral)
sorted / stored (both for the fastidious)
infarction / infraction (both are violations)
melon / lemon (both fruit)
garnet / argent (both colors)
nudity / untidy (prudes may see them as inhabiting the same world)
martial / marital (ha ha)

Sorry for the last one. It’s a bit 1950s “I Love Lucy,” but I love “I Love Lucy.” So it stays.

There is one anagram, though, that hovers somewhere in between these worlds. Scared / sacred. You either find these two words toeing the same party line or at opposite ends of a tug of war, most likely depending on how you define and view things that are “sacred.”

My very favorite anagram of all time, though, comes back to my name. My middle name. I seldom use it, but it’s Domenic. As a child, I knew the name was important: I was named after my mother’s father, Dominic. As you can see, though, the spellings differ. This is why I never knew how to spell it growing up. So after some prodding, my mother fessed that she spelled my name wrong on my birth certificate and that the i became an e. The problem was, I could never remember which i, so sometimes I spelled it as Dominec or, in a dyslexic fugue, Demonic, which serendipitously turns out to be the diametric opposite of Domenic, which means “born on Sunday, the Lord’s day.” I hit the jackpot with that one.

Two of my favorite anagram-finding Web sites have features to enhance your anagram-search fun, such as limiting the number of words per anagram or forcing the generator to use a certain word. I recommend using both sites.

Wordsmith
http://www.wordsmith.org/anagram/

Andy’s Anagram Solver
http://www.ssynth.co.uk/~gay/anagram.html

Do you have any favorite anagrams, self anagrams, or antigrams? If so, share them here.

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