Anagrams FAQ Page

Anagrammy Awards > Anagrams FAQ > Unusual anagrams

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?

Are there any unusual varieties of anagram?

(Adapted from Words at Play by O.V. Michaelsen, with additional material from William Tunstall-Pedoe)

Here we look at:

  • Pangrams
  • Antigrams
  • Word Reversals
  • Transposed Couplets

A pangram is a text using each of the 26 letters of the alphabet at least once. The best known example is:

  • The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.

This pangram (often used as a typing test) uses 33 letters, whereas the the next examples use between 30 and 32 letters:

  • Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
  • The five boxing wizards jump quickly.
  • Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz.
  • How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.

However, none of the above are true anagrams.

On the other hand, a lot of attempts have been made to anagram the alphabet in search of the elusive 26-letter "perfect pangram". Because of the difficulty of dealing with Q, Z, J and X in so few letters (so few of which are vowels), it is virtually impossible to create a meaningful perfect pangram.

Even the best attempts require the use of obscure foreign words and/or abbreviations, as the examples show:

  • TV quiz drag nymph blew JFK's cox.
  • Cwm fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz.*

*Cwm is Welsh for a circular valley; a glyph is a carved figure; vext is the poetic spelling of vexed; a quiz is an 18th-century term for an eccentric. Thus, "carved figures in a valley on a bank of a fjord irritated an eccentric person".

Here are a selection from the Awardsmaster's Challenge in July 2005 to come up with the best perfect pangram:

  • A quiz by RJG:
    Os + V + Xe + Cl + Fm + ? = K + Pd + W + Th + N + ? (The solution) [Richard Grantham]
  • My kind zap Fox TV, squelch GWB Jr.! [Meyran Kraus]
  • Fix TV show, NBC! Dump lazy GQ jerk! [Scott Gardner]
  • GCHQ down! Fix jam, klutz! Bye! (R.S.V.P.) [David Bourke]
  • P.D.Q. Bach's funky jig vext Mr. Wolz. [Larry Brash]
  • Crazy wimp fled junk-box TV's GHQ. [Tony Crafter]
  • JFK Blvd 'acts' grow; quiz ex-nymph. [Rick Rothstein]
  • GB, who junk crazy TV sex film PDQ. [Chris Sturdy]
  • Lust pink Ford? Chevy? BMW? Jag? Z? QX? [Toby Gottfried]

And finally, a couple by Cory Calhoun

  • The glib czar junks my VW Fox PDQ.
  • My UHF TV zaps J.K. Rowling, ex-D.C. QB.


An antigram, or antonymous anagram, has an opposite meaning to the subject text. It was coined by "Sans Souci" (Robert P. King) in the September 22, 1900 issue of the privately issued journal The Ardmore Puzzler. They are quite uncommon and often accidentally discovered.

These three examples of opposite anagrams appeared in "Transpositions," from The Masquerade, a British puzzle book, published in six annual volumes from 1797-1802.

  • Festival ‡ Evil fast
  • Funeral ‡ Real fun
  • Astronomers ‡ No more stars

In the late 1890s, a puzzler named "Arcanus" (Jacob E. Reizenstein) published (as an "anagram") "Antagonist ‡ Not against."

On the Anagrammy Forum, we use the ‡ symbol to indicate an antigram. Here are some more examples:

  • Santa ‡ Satan.
  • United ‡ Untied.
  • Forty five ‡ Over fifty.
  • Militarism ‡ I limit arms.
  • Saintliness ‡ Entails sins.
  • Evangelists ‡ Evil's agents.
  • Protectionism ‡ Nice to imports.
  • Within earshot ‡ I won't hear this.
  • Sweltering heat ‡ The winter gales.
  • The Oscar Nominations ‡ It's not a cinema honor.

Word Reversals

A word that is spelled backward to become a new word is sometimes referred to as a word reversal or anadrome. The latter term combines "ana-" from anagram and "-drome" from palindrome. Lewis Carroll called this a semordnilap ("palindromes" spelled backwards), whereas other sources (Dudeney, 1929) referred to these as antigrams. Examples of this genre include:

  • Pat = tap.
  • God = dog.
  • Evian = naive.
  • Samaroid = dioramas.

Transposed couplets

Transposed couplets or pairagrams are single word anagrams that placed together create a short meaningful phrase.

  • Best bets.
  • Elvis lives.
  • Float aloft.
  • Outer route.
  • Direct credit.
  • Demo mode.
  • Latent talent.
  • Lovely volley.
  • Ocean canoe.
  • Actors co-star.
  • Remote meteor.
  • Oriental relation.
  • Ruthless hustlers.
  • Versatile relatives.
  • American Cinerama.
  • Nameless salesmen.
  • Continued unnoticed.
  • Streaming emigrants.

And finally, a triplet or trianagram:

  • Discounter introduces reductions.

Updated: May 10, 2016


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