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Latin anagram on the portal of the high school church in Meppen . The saying AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA DOMINUS TECUM (German: Greetings, Maria, full of grace, the Lord is with you ) is anagramed below for INVENTA SUM DEIPARA ERGO IMMACULATA (German: I was made the Theotokos, therefore undefiled).

An anagram (from the Greek ἀναγράφειν  anagráphein , 'rewrite') is a sequence of letters that is formed from another sequence of letters simply by rearranging the letters ( permutation ) . The process of this change is called anagramming , also known as transposition in cryptography . In general, an anagram can be formed by rearranging individual letters, syllables , words or sentences in a given text.

Origin and demarcation

... storage rack - a palindrome and the anagram of a palindrome - rack storage ...

The Greek grammarian and poet Lycophron from Chalkis (approx. 320–280 BC) is considered the father of the anagram ; he flattered the king Ptolemy II with a poem, where he changed the sequence of letters whose name Πτολεμαῖος into πὸ μέλιτος (Greek for "of honey").

In German the anagram is also known as Letter sweeping or Letter exchange referred. It is popularly known as the shake word. The simplest form of an anagram is the reversal of letters , in which only two letters - adjacent or not - are swapped. A special form of anagramming is the rearrangement of letters, in which letter sequences are formed that, when read from the front and back, result in meaningful words (from large for example warehouse and shelf ).

A character string that is the same forwards and backwards read is called a palindrome (for example, shelf storage , or storage shelf as its anagram). While all letters of an alphabet must appear in a pangram , a certain sequence of letters specifies the characters to be used in an anagram.

The anagram in art and entertainment

Often the goal of anagramming is to achieve a new sentence, i.e. an anagram with a different meaning, by rearranging the letters. Such an application of anagram is considered a linguistic form of art and can be understood as a letter game or a puzzle .

In poems, puzzles and other forms of literature , anagrams are formed from individual words, but also from entire lines or sentences. This and the long study of the corresponding sentences to be anagrammed reveal new and often surprising possible combinations. In particularly elaborate anagram poems, there is often a relationship between the original meaning of a word and the meaning of the later anagrams formed from it. The anagram is being rediscovered in contemporary poetry; B. in the texts of Titus Meyer or Christopher Schnorr.

Scenically danced anagrams are shown in ballet . Each dancer gets a letter on his jersey. Words and phrases can then be danced by changing places of the dancers. Such danced anagrams have been handed down since ancient times; Dante Alighieri uses this form of anagramming in Canto 18 of paradiso in his Divine Comedy .

In magazines and newspapers , business card puzzles can be found in anagram form. Most of the time, you can guess a person's occupation from their name and city. For example: What job does the person with the business card do? "Fr. Inge C. Otherwise, Rheine ”. Answer: “Chimney sweep”.

The anagram experienced a renaissance through the Surrealists and Dadaists . Unica Zürn and Gerhard Rühm deal with anagrams in their artistic work. Even Kurt Mautz or Esther Spinner be mentioned here. A remarkable density of meaningful anagram poetry can be found in R. and C. Schnorr. In the most recent literature, reference is made primarily to Walter Moers , who incorporates numerous anagrams in his novels (e.g. Ohjann Golgo von Fontheweg for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or Gofid Letterkerl for Gottfried Keller ). Even JK Rowling uses in the Harry Potter novels is an anagram for the name of the most evil wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort : Tom Marvolo Riddle ... is Lord Voldemort in German, Tom Marvolo Riddle - I am Lord Voldemort in the original English. Accordingly, Voldemort has a wide variety of names around the world so that the anagram remains in the respective translation.

Use as an encryption method

Anagrams have also been used in science. Here the anagram was used to encrypt important information that should not be disclosed to the public at first. The plain text , which was to be kept secret, was anagramed by rearranging its individual letters as required. In cryptography , this is known as transposition . One possibility is to simply sort the letters of the plain text in alphabetical order. The ciphertext created by anagram was published.

In contrast to the usual cryptographic methods , the purpose of this type of encryption was not to transmit a message from a sender to a recipient in such a way that the recipient could decrypt and read it again using his or her key , without a third party being able to do so. A key exchange did not take place. Rather, the purpose of this encryption was to initially only publish the ciphertext and not to publish the associated plain text until years later. Then anyone could easily anagram the plaintext again and determine that they received the identical ciphertext. The author of the originally published anagram was in possession of the information contained in the plain text at the time the ciphertext was published. This approach served to secure the priority of scientific findings and to be able to prove this beyond doubt without having to disclose the scientific statement itself at an early stage and without endangering one's own priority. In modern cryptography, commitment procedures are used to prove priority .

A deciphering , so the cracking of the ciphertext, without possessing the key, was practically impossible. Even with modern cryptanalytic methods, this cannot be achieved due to the large number of possible anagrams, except in exceptional cases. This is confirmed by Friedrich L. Bauer in his standard work of cryptology: "In fact, experience shows confirmed by Shannon's theory that there is no for an anagram Unizitätslänge are." This means that a generated by Anagramming letter bag, be it simple alphabetical sorting or an artful rearrangement, can no longer be clearly converted back into the original underlying text. This inability has nothing to do with a lack of skill, time or computing power, but is of a principle nature. It is possible to create a different text from the anagram by rearranging the letters. But one cannot be sure that this is the only and therefore the right solution. Example: The anagram AELX can be formed by anagram of the name AXEL, but it can also be based on the name ALEX.

Historical examples of anagrams

  • Galileo Galilei published his scientific knowledge “ Cynthiae figuras aemulatur Mater Amorum ” (German: “The mother of love [meaning the planet Venus ] imitates the figures of the moon goddess [i.e. the moon phases ]”), with which he his discovery of the phases of the Venus described, not as plain text in Latin , but in encrypted form as an anagram: HAEC IMMATURA A ME IAM FRUSTRA LEGUNTUR OY.
  • Another anagram published by Galileo was SMAISMRMILMEPOETALEVMIBVNENVGTTAVIRAS. Nobody could find meaning in it until Galileo called the plain text: “ Altissimvm planetam tergeminvm observavi ” (German: “I observed the highest planet [Saturn] in three forms”). He used it to describe his observation of Saturn's rings , which he had mistakenly taken for two objects to the left and right of the Saturn sphere.
  • Christiaan Huygens described the Saturn rings correctly 45 years later, also in the form of an anagram, in which he instead of the original sentence “ Annulo cingitur, tenui plano, nusquam cohaerente, ad eclipticam inclinato ” (German: “He is surrounded by a ring, which is thin and flat, is not connected to it anywhere and is inclined towards the ecliptic ”) published only the sorted series of letters: AAAAAAA CCCCC D EEEEE GH IIIIIII LLLL MM NNNNNNNNN OOOO PP Q RR S TTTTT UUUUU.
  • Even Robert Hooke published his later named after him Hooke's Law , the elementary equation of the theory of elasticity , in this way. Instead of the plain text “ Ut tensio sic vis ” (German: “As the stretching, so the strength”) he initially only revealed: CEIIINOSSSTTUV.
  • In 1659, Blaise Pascal published four letters (Lettres de Dettonville) under the pseudonym Amos Dettonville - an anagram of Louis de Montalte , the pseudonym under which Pascal had published the Lettres provinciales .
  • The philosopher, doctor and chemist Andreas Libavius published his polemic against the Jesuit Jakob Gretser under the name anagram Basilius de Varna.
  • At the end of Carl Gustav Jung's Septem Sermones Ad Mortuos there is ANAGRAMMA: NAHTRIHECCUNDE GAHINNEVERAHTUNIN ZEHGESSURKLACH ZUNNUS. This anagram remains unsolved to this day. Various tips and solutions can be found on websites. One possible solution is: CARL GUSTAV IUNG, IN KUESNACH, YOUR NINETEENTIOUS SIXTEEN.
  • The anagram in the name of Unica Zürn is said to come from Oskar Pastior : Unica Zuern - Azur in nuce ; Zürn is best known for her anagram poems.

Nobody lives without me. If that is not clear enough, then
you know: I have inheritance and deception in me.

We are looking for the term birth , for which genetic material and fraud are anagrams.

Uses of anagrams

  • In communications technology and speech recognition , the cepstrum is used as a special transformation of signals. Cepstrum was here as an anagram of the word Spectrum (English for spectrum derived). An important variable of the cepstrum is the so-called quefrency , an art word as anagram of Frequency (English for frequency was formed). All other parameters of the cepstrum have also been replaced by anagrams of analogous parameters of the normal spectrum, for example magnitude by gamnitude , phase by saphe or filtering by liftering .

See also

  • Anagram Islands , group of small islands and reef rocks off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula


  • Astrid Poier Bernhard: Have fun with Haas. Sonderzahl Verlag, Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-85449-205-7 .
  • Bernd Brucker, Alexandra Steiner: The world of anagrams. Words make words . matrixverlag, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-86539-154-4 .
  • Klaus Peter Dencker : Poetic language games. From the Middle Ages to the present. Reclam-Verlag, Ditzingen 2002, ISBN 3-15-018238-7 .
  • Rudolf Kippenhahn : Encrypted messages, secret writing, Enigma and chip card. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1999, ISBN 3-499-60807-3 .
  • Christian Graeff (Ed.): The world behind the words. Verlag Martin Wallimann, Alpnach 2004, ISBN 3-908713-38-2 .
  • Robert Hooke : A Description of Helioscopes and some other Instruments. John Martyn, London 1676, p. 32.

Web links

Wiktionary: anagram  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Armin Steigenberger : News from Wolkenkuckucksheim. Signatures Magazin, May 6, 2015, accessed May 8, 2015 .
  2. Meaningful poems from anagrams | . In: . July 17, 2017 ( [accessed August 3, 2017]).
  3. ^ Gerhard Grümmer : Game forms of poetry . Verlag Werner Dausien, Hanau 1985, ISBN 3-7684-4521-6 , p. 13 .
  4. Esther Spinner is a member of the Anagram Agency , an association of living anagrammists.
  5. Anagrams with meaning - home page. In: Retrieved April 10, 2016 .
  6. Walter Moers : The city of dreaming books . Piper, Munich 2006.
  7. So in the translation by Klaus Fritz : Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets . Carlsen, Hamburg 1999, ISBN 3-551-55168-5 .
  8. Harry Potter # 14, The Thousand Names of Tom Riddle . In: Minas Geekith . October 30, 2014 ( [accessed July 30, 2018]).
  9. Friedrich L. Bauer : Deciphered secrets. Methods and maxims of cryptology. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Springer, Berlin et al. 2000, ISBN 3-540-67931-6 , p. 105.
  10. Istvan Szabo History of Mechanical Principles , Birkhäuser, p. 356
  11. cf. London Underground anagram map (in English), the actual anagram map can be found at ( Memento from June 15, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).