Grammar What Are Anagram Words? (With Examples) |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

What Are Anagram Words? (With Examples)

You may have heard of an anagram or anagram words. They may appear in puzzles and quiz questions, as well as on the occasional game show. So what are they and how do they work?

Anagrams are words or phrases that can be formed from the letters of other words. For example, both night and thing are made from the same letters. That makes them anagrams.

Examples of Anagrams

Anagrams in language abound. More than three dozen can be made from the word anagram alone! Here are several more simple pairs:

inch and chin

study and dusty

brag and grab

car and arc

stressed and desserts

cried and cider

You see how you can take one word from each pair and simply rearrange its letters to form the other word. Anagrams are particularly fun and interesting for those who use them as entertainment or as tools to teach spelling. In some cases, people might also notice or create certain anagrams to call attention to a notable coincidence.

Advanced Anagrams

Some anagrams are well-known or easy to remember because of the association between the starting word and the resulting word or phrase that comes from rearranging the letters.

For example, consider the relationships between these anagrams:

listen and silent

a gentleman and elegant man

funeral and real fun

These kinds of anagrams reveal an inherent association between words—one that appears to involve more than sharing the same letters.

Consider more such examples:

Clint Eastwood and Old West action

signature and a true sign

eleven plus two and twelve plus one

These types of anagrams can require a great deal of time and thought to identify, but once they are established they make for fun reading and consideration. They can also be used to make a name or concept more memorable.

In certain cases, anagrams may even be intentional. For example, those who have read or seen Stephen King’s The Shining might recall the recurrence of the word redrum, which later turns out to be an anagram for the word murder.

Though you likely won’t often be tested (at least formally) on your knowledge of anagrams, they do prove how lively and pliable language can be. If you ever feel inspired to give your brain a good workout, try taking apart some favorite words and phrases and see what others you can make from their letters!

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