I love symmetry. I appreciate a picture that is hung centered on a wall. In fact, I wish I could be more centered myself. Fortunately for me, there are already words that are perfectly symmetrical — they’re called palindromes.
A palindrome is a word that is spelled the same backward and forward (notice I didn’t say “backwards and forwards …” you never need to add the -s). If you squint your eyes just so, a “palindrome” could seem like a robot version of John McCain’s 2008 vice presidential pick. To jog your memory, one-word palindromes include “noon,” “civic,” “racecar,” “rotator” and “mom.”
I find multiple-word palindromes more interesting, especially when they form sentences that make sense. For instance, my conspiracy-minded friend, Byron (who doesn’t believe in the moon landing and has terrible childhood trauma from how he learned the truth about Santa Claus), might say: A Santa lived as a devil at NASA. If you flip the letters backward, you’ll get the same sentence!
If you use your imagination, this could have been the icebreaker line from the first male inhabitant of Eden to his soulmate, Eve: “Madam in Eden, I’m Adam.” Adam probably never said anything closely resembling, “Mr. Owl ate my metal worm,” but — if he did — it would be a palindromic sentence.
When pondering some of the deeper meanings of life, you could ask an important series of questions. Do geese see God? Amy, must I jujitsu my ma? Was it a rat I saw? Was it a car or a cat I saw? Was it a bar or a bat I saw? UFO tofu?
Perhaps we’ll never know the answers to any of these profound questions, but one thing’s for sure: they are all palindromic questions.
Like all good things on the internet, some of my favorite two-word palindromes include cats. Not only that, but both of the following palindromes would make great band names: “taco cat” and “senile felines.” I can already see the album cover. Don’t worry—if anyone from PETA is monitoring this paragraph, please know that I live my life based on this motto: Step on no pets.
Finally, if you want to travel to palindromic places in the United States, you’ll have several stops to make. Buy a T-shirt in Wassamassaw, South Carolina. Everything’s bigger in Saxet, Texas. Send me a postcard from Adaven, Nevada.
Finally, you’ll have a hard time deciding whether you want to visit Kanakanak, Alaska, or Kinikinik, Colorado, first. In total, the U.S. contains 65 palindromic town names (and 66 if you include Y, Alaska). And, although there are several palindromic places to visit in the U.S., are there thousands? No, not a ton.
—Curtis Honeycutt is a syndicated humor columnist. He is the author of Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Successful Life. Find more at .