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I ēsoûs Ch ristòs Th eoû Y iòs S ōtér
(Jesus Christ God's Son Redeemer): I Ch Th YS
(ἰχθύς 'ichthýs' - fish)
Willehalm acrostic after Rudolf von Ems

An acrostic (from ancient Greek ἄκρος ákros , 'tip', and στίχος stíchos 'verse', 'line') is a poem (usually in verse form ) in which the beginnings of word or verse sequences (letters in word sequences or words in verse form , also initial syllables) when read one after the other produce a meaning of their own, for example a name or a sentence. The German name for this literary form is Leistenvers or Leistengedicht .

Acrostics belong to the category of steganography as well as to the rhetorical figures . They are to be distinguished from pure abbreviations or strings of words, for example acronyms like INRI .

Acrostics are widespread in Jewish literature, starting with the Hebrew Bible . The Lamentations have up to Chapter 5 an acrostic construction. In some psalms , the first letters of 22 verses follow the sequence of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Psalms 9 and 10 , 25 , 34 , 37 , 111 , 112 , 119 and 145 ). The first four words of Psalm 96 , 11 ( Ps 96.11  EU ) contain an acrostic of the name of God, YHWH . In later rabbinical literature, the first letters of works or song stanzas indicate the author. This is the case, for example, with the Sabbath hymn Lecha Dodi , in which the first letters of the first eight stanzas result in the name Schlomo ha-Levi and refer to the author Schlomo Alkabez .

The acrostic poem was popular in ancient, medieval and baroque poetry, for example with Otfrid von Weißenburg (around 800–870) or Martin Opitz (1597–1639). Paul Gerhardt's song Command you your ways is an acrostic from Psalm 37: 5. In the work diu crône by Heinrich von dem Türlin , the name of the poet can be found as an acrostic. An example from modern times is “Lust = Living under Power” by Elfriede Hablé (* 1934). Joachim Ringelnatz (1883-1934) took part under the name Erwin Christian Stolze with an acrostic in the tender for an Olympic hymn. The first letters gave his full name.

Acrostics are also encountered as donkey bridges for scientific or everyday contexts. A special case is the Abecedarius , in which the first letters form the alphabet .

A poem in which the final letters result in a word or a sentence is a telestichon ; if the middle letter applies, it is a mesostichon . An acroteleuton is a multiple acrostic or a combination of acrostic and telestich.


Web links

Commons : Acrostics  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Akrostichon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Lamentations of Jeremiah on
  2. Joachim Ringelnatz on