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ANAGRAMS

Ancient Word-Play for a Modern Age!

What is an Anagram?

The broadest definition of an Anagram is a word or phrase created by re-arranging the letters of another word or phrase, in which every letter in the original is used in the creation of the new phrase.  Anagram comes to us from the Greek "ana," meaning "after" and "gramma," meaning "letter, or writing."

This gives us three criteria, or rules, that must be met in order to classify something as an Anagram:

1. The letters of a word or phrase must be re-arranged.
2. A new expression must be created.
3. Every letter of the original must be used in the new expression. Each letter can only be used as many times as it appears in the original (If there are 2 Bs in the original, then the new expression must have the same number of Bs.

Compare these rules to the guidelines for Lexigrams.

The last rule is critical when constructing an Anagram - "every letter must be used."  For example, if there are two B's in the original word or phrase, then the new expression must have the same number of B's.

There are three types of transpositions (letter re-arrangements) that can be created:

1.  Making an English Word from a Nonsense Word (Random Anagram).
2.  Making an English Word from another Word (Simple Anagram).
3.  Making a meaningful English Word from another Word (Perfect Anagram).

Note:  The letter transpositions used in Anagrams and Lexigrams are NOT exclusive to the English language.  Words or phrases in ANY language in the Latin family can use this concept.  Pictographic languages, such as Oriental languages, cannot be anagrammed directly because each single character is a word unto-itself, not an actual letter.  Names and phrases in these languages must be transliterated into Latin letters before being anagrammed.


How Are Anagrams They Made?

Anagrams are constructed by re-arranging (transposing) letters in a word or phrase.  Once an individual letter from the original word is used, it cannot be used again.

For example, consider the word WEST.

The letters can be re-arranged to make the word STEW.  Notice that each letter is used only once.

The word WEST cannot be turned into SWEET, because there is only one E available in the original word, and it can only be used once.


Examples of Anagrams

There are three types of anagrams:  Random, Simple, and Perfect.  Here are some examples of each type.

Random Anagrams
The most familiar type of Random Anagram is the Unscramble Game, in which English words are found from within seemingly random letters. This often involves the letters of an English word being scrambled into a random pattern, and the players must re-assemble the original word. This type of Anagram typically does not use personal names. 

EXAMPLE
ETLAMLABS to MEATBALLS.

Simple Anagrams
A Simple Anagram involves the transposition of letters in a word or short phrase, to create another. This new word does not reflect the meaning of the original. Simple Anagrams are most often used with single words.  Notice that Simple Anagrams can also change a phrase into a word (or vice versa).

EXAMPLES
SATIN to STAIN
A SMALL BET to MEATBALLS.

Perfect Anagrams
The most complex form of anagramming is the Perfect Anagram. This is where all of the letters are used, and the meaning of both expressions is the same or similar. This logical relationship between the original word and the constructed anagram is what elevates this form of Anagramming above the rest.  Notice that Perfect Anagrams can also change a phrase into a word (or vice versa), and that there is a semantic connection between the two.

EXAMPLES
ALIEN FORMS to LIFE ON MARS.
TOM CRUISE to SO IM CUTER.
CLINT EASTWOOD to OLD WEST ACTION.
DIPLOMACY to MAD POLICY.

A classic example of a Perfect Anagrams comes to us from medieval days.  Study of the religious icons and terms was considered a form of devotional contemplation, and monks and scholars would anagram Latin phrases that glorified religious figures.  Consider the "Ave Maria" Perfect Anagram:

AVE MARIA, GRATIA PLENA, DOMINUS TECUM
(Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.)

can be anagrammed to become

VIRGO SERENA, PIA, MUNDA ET IMMACULATA
(Virgin serene, holy, pure, and immaculate.)

Notice that the phrase is a Perfect Anagram in Latin only.  When translated into the English, we can see the meanings are similar, but there is no longer an anagrammtical relationship.

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