Herein Lies Yet Another Route to Madness

Here is another item from Futility Closet (, re-posted with the permission of Greg Ross.


It was British wordplay expert Leigh Mercer who coined the classic palindrome “A man, a plan, a canal—Panama” in Note & Queries on Nov. 13, 1948. He later said that he’d had the middle portion, PLAN A CANAL P, for a year before he saw that PANAMA fit.

Mercer published 100 palindromes in N&Q between 1946 and 1953. Here is a brief selection:

See, slave, I demonstrate yet arts no medieval sees

Now Ned I am a maiden won

Here so long? No loser, eh?

Trade ye no mere moneyed art

Ban campus motto, “Bottoms up, MacNab”

No dot nor Ottawa “legal age” law at Toronto, Don

Now ere we nine were held idle here, we nine were won

Egad, a base life defiles a bad age

“Reviled did I live,” said I, “as evil I did deliver”

I saw desserts, I’d no lemons, alas, no melon, distressed was I

Sue, dice, do, to decide us

Sir, I demand — I am a maid named Iris

No, set a maple here, help a mate, son

Poor Dan is in a droop

Yawn a more Roman way

Won’t lovers revolt now?

Pull a bat, I hit a ball up

Nurse, I spy gypsies, run!

Stephen, my hat — ah, what a hymn, eh, pets?

Pull up if I pull up

. . .  and the remarkably natural “Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.”

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