Anagrams FAQ Page

Anagrammy Awards > Anagrams FAQ > What is an anagram?


Table of Contents

· Introduction

· What is an anagram?

· What are some examples?

· Do anagrams always need to be apt?

· Are there any unusual varieties of anagram?

· What is the longest anagram ever created?

· What are the hallmarks of a good anagram?

· What is the longest one-word anagram?

· What set of letters has the most one-word anagrams?

· What is the history of anagrams?

· How do you create anagrams?

What is an anagram?

Definition of an anagram

An anagram is the rearrangement of the letters of a word, name, phrase, sentence, title, or the like into another word or phrase.

ALL the letters of the name or phrase must be used ONCE and only ONCE. This is the basic rule of anagramming.

The best anagrams are meaningful and relate in some way to the original subject. They can be apposite, funny, rude, satirical or flattering.


What is not an anagram?

People sometimes confuse palindromes, acronyms and acrostics with anagrams.

Palindromes are words or phrases that are spelt the same forwards and backwards, such as "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!" The Fun-with-words website has a useful section on palindromes.

Strictly speaking, acronyms are actual words that are formed by the initials of a place, organisation or the like, e.g. MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital). However, the meaning of the word "acronym" has undergone some change with the advent of the Internet and the use of TLA (Three Letter Acronyms), such as BTW (by the way). These are really abbreviations rather than true acronyms.

Poems in which the first letters of each line spell out a word or name are sometimes erroneously called anagram poems, but are more properly referred to as acrostics. For some true anagram poems (a few of which are also acrostics) see our Literary Archives.


Updated: November 14, 2009


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