What may be the longest single palindromic word?

Poor Dan is in a droop. Sit on a potato pan, Otis. What do these sentences have in common? They’re both palindromes. A palindrome is a word, number, sentence, or verse that reads the same backward or forward. It derives from the Greek palin dromo, which means “running back again.” In palindromes, spacing, punctuation, and capitalization are usually ignored.

(This is not the same thing as when you rearrange the letters of a word or phrase to spell another one. Find out what that’s called, here.)

We use palindromes everyday without thinking about it. Common palindromic words include noon, civic, racecar, level, and mom. The Finnish word for soapstone vender is supposedly the longest palindrome in everyday use: saippuakivikauppias. The palindrome Malayalam is also of significant length. Malayalam is a language spoken in South India. Common palindromic first names include Bob, Anna, Hannah, Eve, and Elle.

Place names can be palindromes too, such as Semmes (in Alabama) and Ward Draw (in South Dakota). Palindrome also has a meaning in biochemistry. It is a region of DNA in which the sequence of nucleotides is identical with an inverted sequence in the complementary strand. GAATTC is a palindrome of CTTAAG.

What does semordnilap spell backwards? Palindromes. The word refers to a word or phases that spells a different word or phrase backwards, such as stressed and desserts.

Mull over these palindromes, and then let us know your favorite.

• Never odd or even.

• We panic in a pew.

• Won’t lovers revolt now?

• Don’t nod.

• Sir, I demand, I am a maid named Iris.

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