Guide to Literary Terms

Start Free Trial

What is a palindrome?

A palindrome is a text that is the exact same read backward as forward.

Guide to Literary Terms Study Tools

Take a quiz Ask a question Start an essay

Palindrome

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated May 26, 2023.

A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sequence of text that reads the same backward as it does forward.

Palindrome derives from the Greek word palindromos, which translates literally to “running back,” from palin (“back, again”) and dramein (“running”). The English form of the word was invented in the 17th century by playwright Ben Jonson.

Palindromes have been used since ancient Greece, where the phrase “Nipson anomemata me monan ospin,” meaning “Wash the sins, not only the face” was inscribed on numerous fountains. The first known palindrome in English was written by poet John Taylor in 1614, and reads “Lewd did I live & evil did I dwel.”

Explore all literary terms.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Oxymoron

Next

Parable