longest palindrome

Posted on 2003-11-11
Last Modified: 2007-12-19

Is there a longer palindrome in the english language than "redivider"
Question by:blobajob
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Accepted Solution

Covenant40K earned 50 total points
ID: 9723279

 TATTARRATTAT is the longest palindrome in the Oxford English Dictionary 2nd edition (OED2).  The OED2 is actually a historical dictionary of English, covering the language from the earliest times to the present day. Therefore it contains words like Tarrarrattat that are considered "nonce words".  In fact, according to OED2 the word was only used once in the history of published literature by James Joyce in his 1921 novel Ulysses: "I knew his tattarrattat at the door."

KINNIKINNIK is the longest palindrome in Webster's Third Edition (W3).  W3 defines it as "A mixture used by North American Indians as a substitute for tobacco, or for mixing with it; the commonest ingredients are dried sumach-leaves and the inner bark of dogwood or willow."

DETARTRATED - "a contrived chemical term".  It actually appears on the back of Concord grape juice - "Must be allowed to settle out by gravity - minimum of 6 weeks, before it's detartrated and ready to use."


Expert Comment

ID: 9723366
This is generally accepted as the longest palindrome

A foof, a Man, a Plan, a Canal -- Panama foofa

But this one claims to beat it :

Others are
Draw, O coward!
Niagara, O roar again!
Nurse, I spy gypsies. Run!

Sex at noon taxes
Dennis and Edna sinned
Live not on evil

Also, to rival Convenants KINNIKINNIK, OOLOOPOOLOO (dialect spoken in Australia) is also 11 letters

Expert Comment

ID: 9723795
Haha, I found that one also MusicMan, I'd assumed blobajob implied single word palindromes.  
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Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 9726035
>>This is generally accepted as the longest palindrome
>>A foof, a Man, a Plan, a Canal -- Panama foofa

OK then...

Ha Fool, a Man, a Plan, a Canal -- Panama loofah

(Would this be what Mr T uses in the bath? - or have I just had too much to drink - hic)

Expert Comment

ID: 9726992
These are supposedly the world's longest palindromes.
LVL 55

Expert Comment

ID: 9730460
This one was written by Ronald McDonald:

Stressed? No Tips? Spit on Desserts
LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 9739202


Expert Comment

ID: 9759443
rise to vote, sir

Expert Comment

ID: 9768409
the longuest palindrome is: loooooooooooooooooooooooool


Expert Comment

ID: 9769116
The longest single-word palindrome I have seen is "detartrated" as noted above by Covenant40K, and it is of questionable origin i.e. it was probably invented for the sole purpose of being the longest single-word palindrome.

However, Dmitri Borgmann, one of the most active palindrome writers, penned this amusing article about how to create a much longer palindromic word:

As for palindromes that are NOT one word, entire palindromic books have been written. Not very good ones, mind you. As I wrote in another palindrome question, longer palindromes are NOT harder to write: you can easily write a huge list of things and extend it virtually infinitely. Single-sentence palindromes that make sense are much harder. The ideal palindrome in my opinion is one where people read it and don't realise it is anything other than a normal sentence.

I have written over 300 original palindromes - I manage to come up with a few each week. Here are a handful:


Wolf drowned Logan in a golden wordflow.

On Enola's yawl at Aceh port sat a catastrophe cat ... always alone, no?

No clear sides: Palestinian erases arena in its elapsed Israel con.

All in a van, an able Ma races in a gelato total e.g. anise, caramel, banana, vanilla.

Won't Neil lube Mai's ass as I am ebullient now?

S/M retro slang is semantic: illicit names, signals or terms.

As I leave to help Martin act, can I trample hot Eva-Elisa?


There are lots more on Tim Van Ert's palindrome page at ... well worth a look for those interested in palindromes. There is also an essay I wrote on palindrome-writing.

Martin C

Expert Comment

ID: 9814711
>Therefore it contains words like Tarrarrattat that are considered "nonce words".  

"Nonce" is British slang for a kiddie-fiddler!

Expert Comment

ID: 9815653
MusicMan said:

> OOLOOPOOLOO (dialect spoken in Australia) is also 11 letters

but unfortunately, it is not a real word either. It's a Western mishearing of the Aboriginal language "Ngulubulu".


On the plus side, Australia does have palindromic localities named Tumut, Civic and Glenelg, they're just not very long.

Martin C


Expert Comment

ID: 9816855
Even though Ooloopooloo is a mis-hearing

It is recorded as a word, therefore it should stand.

Expert Comment

ID: 9823504
A language in India is called MALAYALAM

Expert Comment

ID: 9856031
abdriver thats funny and good observation. Actualy the name of the language sounds differently for which english does not provide sufficient phonetics. the last sequence of LA is not realy LA it is totaly a different alphabet.

Expert Comment

ID: 9931183
World's longest palindrome.

17000 + words

pretty crap in that it doesnt make any sense...but hey, it's a palindrome nontheless.

Expert Comment

ID: 9953245

"sums are not set as a test on Erasmus"

so my maths teacher said

Expert Comment

ID: 9991087
Don't forget the earliest palindrome - Adam introducing himslef in the garden of Eden:-

Madam, I'm Adam.
LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:James Rodgers
ID: 10024436

Able was I ere I saw Elba


a Man, a Plan, a Canal -- Panama

was actually a newspaper headline, also the title of a 1974 movien no idea where the foof came from, or this version of it

A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal: Panama
or this even longer version
A man, a plan, a caret, a ban, a myriad, a sum, a lac, a liar, a hoop, a
pint, a catalpa, a gas, an oil, a bird, a yell, a vat, a caw, a pax, a wag,
a tax, a nay, a ram, a cap, a yam, a gay, a tsar, a wall, a car, a luger, a
ward, a bin, a woman, a vassal, a wolf, a tuna, a nit, a pall, a fret, a
watt, a bay, a daub, a tan, a cab, a datum, a gall, a hat, a fag, a zap, a
say, a jaw, a lay, a wet, a gallop, a tug, a trot, a trap, a tram, a torr, a
caper, a top, a tonk, a toll, a ball, a fair, a sax, a minim, a tenor, a
bass, a passer, a capital, a rut, an amen, a ted, a cabal, a tang, a sun, an
ass, a maw, a sag, a jam, a dam, a sub, a salt, an axon, a sail, an ad, a
wadi, a radian, a room, a rood, a rip, a tad, a pariah, a revel, a reel, a
reed, a pool, a plug, a pin, a peek, a parabola, a dog, a pat, a cud, a nu,
a fan, a pal, a rum, a nod, an eta, a lag, an eel, a batik, a mug, a mot, a
nap, a maxim, a mood, a leek, a grub, a gob, a gel, a drab, a citadel, a
total, a cedar, a tap, a gag, a rat, a manor, a bar, a gal, a cola, a pap, a
yaw, a tab, a raj, a gab, a nag, a pagan, a bag, a jar, a bat, a way, a
papa, a local, a gar, a baron, a mat, a rag, a gap, a tar, a decal, a tot, a
led, a tic, a bard, a leg, a bog, a burg, a keel, a doom, a mix, a map, an
atom, a gum, a kit, a baleen, a gala, a ten, a don, a mural, a pan, a faun,
a ducat, a pagoda, a lob, a rap, a keep, a nip, a gulp, a loop, a deer, a
leer, a lever, a hair, a pad, a tapir, a door, a moor, an aid, a raid, a
wad, an alias, an ox, an atlas, a bus, a madam, a jag, a saw, a mass, an
anus, a gnat, a lab, a cadet, an em, a natural, a tip, a caress, a pass, a
baronet, a minimax, a sari, a fall, a ballot, a knot, a pot, a rep, a
carrot, a mart, a part, a tort, a gut, a poll, a gateway, a law, a jay, a
sap, a zag, a fat, a hall, a gamut, a dab, a can, a tabu, a day, a batt, a
waterfall, a patina, a nut, a flow, a lass, a van, a mow, a nib, a draw, a
regular, a call, a war, a stay, a gam, a yap, a cam, a ray, an ax, a tag, a
wax, a paw, a cat, a valley, a drib, a lion, a saga, a plat, a catnip, a
pooh, a rail, a calamus, a dairyman, a bater, a canal--Panama

not telling where that one came from

or a list of sinners names

Dennis, Nell, Edna, Leon, Nedra, Anita, Rolf, Nora, Alice, Carol, Leo,
    Jane, Reed, Dena, Dale, Basil, Rae, Penny, Lana, Dave, Denny, Lena,
    Ida, Bernadette, Ben, Ray, Lila, Nina, Jo, Ira, Mara, Sara, Mario, Jan,
    Ina, Lily, Arne, Bette, Dan, Reba, Diane, Lynn, Ed, Eva, Dana, Lynne,
    Pearl, Isabel, Ada, Ned, Dee, Rena, Joel, Lora, Cecil, Aaron, Flora,
    Tina, Arden, Noel, and Ellen sinned.

or a list of things from a principals memo pad

Test on Erasmus                       Dr of Law
Deliver slap                          Stop dynamo (OTC)
Royal: phone no.?                     Tel: Law re Kate Race
Ref. Football.                        Caps on for prep
Is sofa sitable on?                   Pots- no tops
XI--Staff over                        Knit up ties ('U')
Sub-edit Nurse's order                Ned (re paper)
Caning is on test (snub slip-up)      Eve's simple hot dish (crib)
Birch (Sid) to help Miss Eve          Pupil's buns
Repaper den                            T-set: no sign in a/c
Use it                                Red roses
Put inkspot on stopper                Run Tide Bus?
Prof.--no space                       Rev off at six
Caretaker (wall, etc.)                Noel Bat is a fossil
Too many d*** pots                    Lab to offer one 'Noh' play--
Wal for duo?  (I'd name Dr. O)           or 'Pals Reviled'?
See few owe fees (or demand IOU?)     Sums are not set.

and  my car is
A Toyota.


Expert Comment

ID: 10149600
I bow before the Jester ----
I have been palendramatized.....

Expert Comment

ID: 10366696
"Able was I ere I saw Elba"

Was Napolean really that good at english?

Expert Comment

ID: 10489141

Expert Comment

ID: 10512135
i'm from belgium, so the longest DUTCH one-worded palindrome know is:

little explanation/translation:

another one i know is LEGOVOGEL
LEGO = the lego-blocks you played with as a child:)
VOGEL = bird

i guess i win :P

Expert Comment

ID: 10519003
Dmitir Borgmann designed the following 91-letter palindromic word in his article I mentioned above (


The definition of our glorious palindrome? "Recombined with tartaric and with tannic acid, and re-overspread with color, sometimes in a highly levitative manner and at other times not in such a manner at all, depending on the requirements of the particular occasion, by one who combines within himself, normally, the functions of separating substances from tartaric and from tannic acid, and undoing or reversing the process of overspreading them with color."

Thoughtful readers will recognize instantly that the mainstream of modern living demands just such a word. Help spread the good word, so as to insure its emergence from the matrix of language. Look for it in books, magazines and newspapers. It is the word of the future!"

That was in 1970. I'm still yet to see it used ...


Expert Comment

ID: 10580876
I'm still curious...

What is with the English language that makes it such a quirky communication tool?
We all love to show our literary prowess and our intellectual command on the English language
by discussing obsequious functions found within it.

For instance, homonyms are words that sound the same but are spelled differently.
But we have no words that SOUND like homonym.  Even to try and rhyme such a word would be an effort,
and sound more like a stretch than poetry.

Similarly is the term Synonym, which has no other single word with the same meaning (Oxford describes the synonym of Synonym as 'Exquivalent Word').  This ties closely with the concept that there is no other word for Thesaurus.

Wouldn't it make more sense that the shortest abbreviation for a word be for 'Abbreviation'?  Rather than it being 4 letters long?  

It would certainly make life easier, and much more efficient to remember what Onomatopoeia meant, if it actually imitated a sound that it represents.  

But then again, if it were easy, we wouldn't be able to feel good about the rubric of remembering meanings to such obscure disassociated words.  We could focus on the metonomy of our language, and continue to use computer programming languages as a metaphor to our desires for change.

So I guess my campaign for introducing the word Palindrordnilap as the official definition for a word spelled the same backwards and forwards, will simply have to wait.

LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:James Rodgers
ID: 10581382
Well since we expounding the virtues, if you want to use that term, of the english language, consider that it is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn fluently, yes many other languages may seem difficult but few have the vagaries of the english language. consider the follow words


when you read the word bow, did you think of  something you tie or the back end of a ship?
what about row, did you think of a boat or an argument?
set - a three letter word with over 100 separate definitions/uses
tough - pronounced tuff
trough - pronounced troff
through - pronounced throo, why not throff or thruff?

ough - at least three different pronunciations

and then you get the differences in spelling between American english and English english
Canada is a neighbor to America but
America is a neighbour to Canada

then there is the proliferation of made-up words, as explained for the word DETARTRATED

but the real problem is that englsh is realy made up of words borrowed from latin, greek, teutonic, germanic, french ....etc

Expert Comment

ID: 10585431
You forgot Slough!

Irregular pronunciation is not peculiar to English.  Generally most westerners who do not have English as their first language find it easier than French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and, most definitely, Japanese.
LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:James Rodgers
ID: 10596909
strange i found Japanese pretty straight forward, the one thing i know i have a problem with is yokka and yoka, i can't tell the difference, i usually have to have it repeated a couple of times, reading it is another matter.... as for french it was conjugating past imperfect and future imperfect ... never got it

but no matter what the laguage three phrases will alway get you through
2 beers please.
where's the party?
take me to my hotel.....

Expert Comment

ID: 10597873
I had a problem with Latin.  I found there were 30 words for "this" and 60 words for "that" so I declined it (hic, haec, hoc).

Perhaps it's time to declare this thread "past historic".

Expert Comment

ID: 10601946
English is tough to learn because of its awful spelling, but other Europeans have always pointed out to me that at least you don't have to worry too much about gender. I could never work out why in French, the tourist information bureau was male while the post office was female (le Syndicat d'Initiative, la Post).

And lest you think this kind of tomfoolery is limited to French, the German for "little girl" (das Madchen) takes the NEUTER not the feminine gender. Work for Dr. Freud there!

Martin C
LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 10604410
Also in Arabic you have male and female for objects. And on top of that, you have one person, two person, three person and more. In English objects are neuter and there is singular and plural. That's it.

In Arabic there are "movements" to the letters and they act as vowels. It depends on the sentence and not the word for a person to be able to put these "movements". It's very complicated. Programming in English is best. English is clear to the point.

I know Arabic, English, French, German and Armenian. I use English the most even in coversations because it's easy. Armenian is also great but it's alphabet is only for Armenians. French is very sophisticated. Arabic is a mess. :)

I use English for reading, writing, speaking on the radio while flying, in business and almost everywhere else.

I notice in my country that people who know French don't have hard time learning English. But the reverse is very hard.
LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:James Rodgers
ID: 10606026
>>I could never work out why in French, the tourist information bureau was male while the post office was female (le Syndicat d'Initiative, la Post).
you think that's bad, figure this one out

le Quebec
La Quebec

both are correct .... one is for refering to the province of Quebec, the other for refering to the city

>>Programming in English is best. English is clear to the point
have you seen obfuscated C?

yea it's nice having code in english, but i can't count the number of times i've been working in HTML and typed in centre only to load the page and wonder why the damn thing was left aligned.
LVL 35

Expert Comment

by:[ fanpages ]
ID: 10763416

or more aptly...



Expert Comment

ID: 10854319
Another Dutch one:

Nelli plaatst op 'n parterretrap 'n pot staalpillen.

Expert Comment

ID: 12403215
Try Going here for a long sentence


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ID: 12774762
I like this one:

Satan oscillate my metallic sonatas

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ID: 13862690
I maim nine more hero men in Miami.
LVL 18

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ID: 13926004

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