CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?
Do you have a secret? You are not alone. For centuries, people kept secrets to guard discoveries, create mysteries, and even disguise their identities.
ANAGRAMS are clever ways to keep secrets. Anagrams form when you take letters of one or more words and scramble or transpose them to make new words.
Words: cat = act stew = west heart = earth listen = silent
Phrases: The eyes = They see Eleven plus two = Twelve plus one
Sentence: A decimal point. = I’m a dot in place.
Solving an anagram is no easy task even with the letters spread in front of you. You must place each letter in its proper order. Long anagrams are more difficult to solve but short puzzles can also be tricky. When you transpose the letters, they might make several new words.
Astronomers turns into moon starers and no more stars.
SCIENTISTS LOVE SECRETS!
Galileo Galilei made so many scientific breakthroughs in the 1600s there was not enough time to publish them all. He was the first to spot the planet Saturn. The knowledge of its existence hid in an anagram. This concealed writing became common practice for scientists.
After a scientist completed his work, he permitted the public to view his anagram. The code could contain over thirty letters—larger than our alphabet!
If the anagram remained unsolved, the scientist unscrambled the letters to prove his discovery was original. This prevented others from claiming credit.
BOOKS WITH ANAGRAMS
Writers love to play with words. In 1872, Samuel Butler used the word nowhere to create a world he called, Erewhon. Roald Dahl’s story, Esio Trot, spelled backwards, becomes tortoise. Mike Reiss devoted an entire book to mixed-up words in The Great Show-and-Tell Disaster. A boy named Ned invents an anagram machine that turns an ordinary day into a disaster.
A mystery writer may conceal the identity of a secret agent or location of buried treasure by jumbling letters of their names.
Authors anagram their own names to produce pseudonyms. This false name, or pen name, protects the true writer. Edward Gorey wrote over one hundred books. Fond of word games, he created pseudonyms named Ogdred Weary and Mrs. Regera Dowdy.
ANAGRAMS: HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE
In bible days, Jewish families gave special meaning to their children’s names. The Hebrew letters used in Noah’s name, form grace, in English. This is transliteration; to copy a word from one writing system to another writing system.
Adolf Hitler, an infamous World War II leader, signed Rolf Eidalt in correspondence passed between messengers. He hoped to keep his identity top secret.
A Civil War general named Ambrose Burnside wore long side whiskers or sideburns—an obvious anagram of his name.
Even city names join the fun. Japan’s former capital city of Kyoto, and present capital city Tokyo, are anagrams of each other.
CREATE YOUR OWN ANAGRAMS
Anagram the details of your latest invention or create a pseudonym for the editor of your school newspaper. Play with letters. Your alphabet soup will never look the same!