Anagram definition: An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters in another word or phrase.
What is an Anagram?
What does anagram mean? An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters in another word or phrase.
It is important to note that the word or phrases that an anagram creates must be actual words or phrases, otherwise it is just gibberish.
For example, let’s look at the word “anagram” itself.
These letters can be rearranged to make another phrase:
- nag a ram
“Nag a ram” may not mean anything particular, but that is often the purpose of an anagram. Anagrams are typically meant to be comedic in nature.
What is most important is that the word anagram actually has an anagram—the fact that “anagram” has an anagram makes a commentary about the subject.
- Did you know that nag a ram is an anagram?
- You can write an anagram or you can nag a ram.
You can see here that this is a play on words.
Modern Examples of Anagrams
Anagrams are a great way to make a commentary about a particular subject. In fact, that is their purpose and intent.
Modern Anagram Examples:
Let’s look at some modern and popular anagrams that do just that.
- Term: George Bush
- Anagram: He bugs Gore.
This anagram of George Bush’s name is a commentary on him, the subject. The best anagrams do this. To say that his name actually means something he does or might do, makes this a successful anagram.
- Term: Presbyterian
- Anagram: best in prayer
This anagram of Presbyterian name is a commentary on the subject itself. To say that the term actually means something a Presbyterian does makes this a successful anagram.
List of Anagrams
There are hundreds of different English anagrams. Here, we have compiled a list of our favorite anagrams.
- the Morse code – Here come dots
- statue of liberty – built to stay free
- I think therefore I am – I fear to think I’m here
- monasteries – Amen stories
- meal for one – for me alone
- considerate – care is noted
- astronomers – no more stars
- signature – a true sign
- school student – tends to slouch
- saintliness – least in sins
- asteroid threats – disaster to earth
- a gentleman – elegant man
The Function of Anagrams
What do anagrams do? An anagram is a play on words.
The letters of many word or phrases can be rearranged to form an anagram. However, a gifted writer will purposefully use an anagram to make some sort of commentary.
A writer will use an anagram to make a comment about the subject he is discussing. Anagrams are meant to be clever, witty, playful, and catchy.
For example, an anagram for “astronomer” is “moon starer.” This particular anagram is amusing and smart because the anagram itself is a commentary on the original term.
Writers need to be very selective when using anagrams. They are only meant for a particular tone. However, they are a great play on words that can be add a witty element to writing.
They can also add a layer of suspense. As The Atlantic writes,
- Cameos are a small part of why that might be; arguably the biggest source of suspense from last night’s finale was the fan realization that the first letters of the season’s episode titles make an anagram for “FRINGS BACK.” –The Atlantic
Related Terms and Other Word Games
What is a palindrome? A palindrome is a term that reads the same forward and backward. An example is: racecar.
What is a pangram? A pangram is a sentence that “pans” the alphabet and therefore contains every letter of the alphabet. A common sentence is: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
What is a heterogram? A heterogram is a word, phrase, or sentence where no letter of the alphabet occurs more than once. An example is: pecuniary.
What is a lipogram? A lipogram is an extended piece of writing where a particular letter is avoided. Often, a writer will try to write a lipogram avoiding a vowel.
Anagrams Examples in Literature
Anagrams for kids: An unexpected use of an anagram occurs in the Harry Potter Series. Author J.K. Rowling reveals that Lord Voldemort’s name is actually an anagram of his given name.
- Term: Tom Marvolo Riddle
- Anagram: I am Lord Voldemort.
Rowling writes Voldemort’s name as an anagram for several reasons.
First, Voldemort thinks he is the most talented wizard. In his vanity, his character would do something so egotistical.
Second, Voldemort believes no one would ever discover this anagram, since, again, he believes he is the most gifted wizard.
Third, Rowling uses this as a clever twist in her plot, a way to have even more buy-in from her audience. Her reader wonders, “Did she have this planned since the first text? Did she have that much forethought? It all makes sense now!” For Rowling’s readers, this revealing this anagram provided significant insight to her writing style and to Voldemort as a character.
J.K. Rowling also revealed a clue about a movie based on her book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by tweeting out an anagram to be solved by supporting fans.
Clearly, the author of the Harry Potter series is a fan of anagrams.
Summary: What are Anagrams?
Define anagram: the definition of anagram is a word or phrase that uses exactly the same letters to create a new word or phrase.
Many anagrams have a comedic or satiric intent. The most successful anagrams make a commentary about their subject matter.
To see other literary devices explained, visit our full dictionary page.