Word of the Day



a word or phrase that is the same whether you read it forwards or backwards, such as ‘noon’ or ‘not a ton’

Origin and usage

The word palindrome comes from the Greek word ‘palindromos’ meaning, literally, ‘a running back’. It first appeared in English in the 1620s.


Palindrome refers to a word, phrase or number that reads the same forwards or backwards. Some palindrome phrases are nonsensical, with no real meaning other than that the letters are arranged in a way that they can be read the same in either direction. These include:

• A nut for a jar of tuna
• Air an aria
• No lemon, no melon
• Mr Owl ate my metal worm

Single-word palindromes are more common and include:

• Level
• Civic
• Kayak
• Refer
• Solos

Some names can even be palindromes, like Anna, Otto, Hannah and Elle.

Palindrome numbers are common, too. These include 2002, 111, 5665 and any other sequence where the number is the same forwards and backwards. At certain times of the year, dates can also be palindromes. For example, 8 October 2018 and 29 February 2092 are palindrome days.

Creating long palindrome words and sentences is a popular word game. Many writers have attempted to compose poetry and fiction completely in palindrome form. According to Guinness World Records, the longest palindrome in the world is ‘saippuakivikauppias’, which is a Finnish word for soapstone vendor.

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

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