what is an anagram

What is an Anagram?

August 18, 2023
  •  BY 

Let me guess: Someone mentioned the term "anagram" and caused you to wonder what they heck they meant. 

You're in the right place.

An anagram is a type of word play where the letters of a word or phrase are rearranged to form a new word or phrase. They can range from simple to complex, witty to profound, and they can be a fun and interesting way to improve your vocabulary and spelling skills.

Whether used in literature, puzzles, or games, anagrams continually challenge our perception of words and their hidden meanings. So keep reading to learn more about the history of anagrams, to discover the many types that exist, and to learn about the brain benefits of interacting of them.

The History of "Anagram"

The word "anagram" comes from the Greek words "ana," which means "back" or "again," and "-gramma," which means "letter." 

The concept of anagrams dates back to ancient times, with evidence of their use found in both Greek and Latin literature.

During the Middle Ages, anagrams were often used as a form of cryptography, with messages being hidden by rearranging the letters of words or phrases. Anagrams were also popular among poets and writers during this time, with some even using them as pen names.

Today, anagrams continue to be used in various ways, from puzzles to games to marketing campaigns. They remain a fascinating linguistic phenomenon that has captured our imagination for centuries.

The Types of Anagrams

There are many different types of anagrams, each with its own set of rules. Here's a quick rundown with examples:

Simple Anagrams

Simple anagrams are basic anagrams where one word or phrase is rearranged to form another. For example, "brag" is an anagram of "grab," and "act" is an anagram of "cat."

Perfect Anagrams

When two words or phrases contain the exact same letters and the same number of each letter, they are considered perfect anagrams. Most anagrams are of this type, including "earth" and "heart."

Multiple Word Anagrams

Multiple word anagrams, as the name suggests, consist of more than one word. For instance, "astronomer" can be rearranged as "moon starer." And "a gentleman" can turn into "elegant man."

Partial Anagrams

For partial anagrams, only part of the word or phrase is rearranged. For example, "anagram" can be turned into "nag a ram," and "conversation" can become "voices rant on."


Antigrams are words or phrases that have opposite or conflicting meanings but are anagrams of one another. An example is "restful" and "fluster."

Cognate Anagrams

At the other end of antigrams are cognate anagrams. These are anagrams that have similar or related meanings, such as "enraged" and "angered," and "reward" and "drawer."

Recursive Anagrams

Recursive anagrams are anagrams that reference the original word or phrase. These are rare and often used in a humorous context. For example, "the Morse code" can be rearranged to "here come dots." Another example is "the detectives," which can become "detect thieves."

Phrasal Anagrams

Phrasal anagrams, also called anadromes or anagrammatic phrases, are phrases that produce another relevant phrase. For example, "the eyes" is an anagram for "they see," and "a decimal point" is an anagram for "I'm a dot in place." Another delightful example is "eleven plus two," which can become "twelve plus one."

Mirrored Anagrams

Mirrored anagrams involve not just rearranging letters, but reversing them, thus creating a word that can be read in both directions. This type overlaps with palindromes, which are words or phrases that read the same backward as forward. Examples include "deified" and "repaper."


In sub-anagrams, only some of the letters in a word or phrase are used to form a new word or phrase. For example, from the word "astronomer," you can create the words "moon," "star," and "mare."


Are you ready to put your newfound knowledge to the test? See if you can identify what type(s) of anagram appears in this puzzle:

The Benefits of Solving Anagrams for Brain Training

Solving anagrams can be a fun and challenging way to exercise your brain and improve your cognitive abilities. Here are some benefits of solving anagrams:

Improves Vocabulary and Spelling Skills

Anagrams require you to have a good understanding of words, their meanings, and how they are spelled. By solving anagrams, you can expand your vocabulary and improve your spelling skills.

Enhances Problem-Solving Skills

Anagram-solving requires you to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. This helps enhance your problem-solving skills, which can be applied in other areas of life.

Boosts Memory Retention

Solving anagrams involves memorizing the letters in a word or phrase and rearranging them to form new words or phrases. This helps boost memory retention and recall skills.

Reduces Stress Levels

Engaging in challenging mental activities like solving anagrams has been shown to reduce stress levels. It helps take your mind off everyday problems and allows you to focus on something else for a while.

Increases Focus and Concentration

Anagram-solving requires intense focus and concentration, especially when dealing with complex anagrams. By practicing this skill regularly, you can improve your ability to concentrate on tasks for longer periods.

Start Training Your Brain Today

Solving anagrams is a fun way to improve various cognitive skills while also having a good time. So next time you're looking for a mental workout, try solving some anagrams! You can also download the Elevate app on iOS and Android to play 40+ brain training games that'll help improve your vocabulary, spelling, and other cognitive skills, in addition to just generally helping your brain stay sharp. Give it a try today!

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