Reader query, re: anagrams

Based on your own sense of how words work, pick one of the following:

  • Every word is an anagram of itself.
  • Some but not all words are anagrams of themselves.
  • No word is an anagram of itself.

There’s a principled case to be made for every answer. Cristyn and I hashed it out over goat cheese last night, but I won’t tell you the considerations we mustered on various sides or what we concluded. I’m curious about what you think.

3 thoughts on “Reader query, re: anagrams”

  1. I will go with “no word”. I was somewhat thinking that a word with duplicate instances of one or more letters could be an anagram of itself, but key in the definition of anagram seems to be the idea that you can form a word from the letters of a /different/ word. Yes, homonyms, but it seems to me to be too much of a stretch to say that ‘seal’ (in the animal sense) is an anagram of ‘seal’ (in the wax sense).

  2. The point about homographs is nice. I think you’re right that it’s a stretch here. In order for ‘seal’ to be an anagram of itself by that reasoning, we have to equivocate: We count ‘seal’ and ‘seal’ as different words to get the anagram, but count ‘seal’ as one word so that it is still itself.

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