History of Anagrams

Early History of Anagrams

Anagrams are not quite such a modern idea as you might imagine. According to some historians, anagrams originated in the 4th century BC with the
Greek Poet Lycophron who uses them to flatter the rich and mighty. Other sources suggest that Pythagoras in the 6th century BC, used anagrams to discover deep philosophical meanings.

In Roman and early Christian times, anagrams were often believed to have mystical or prophetic meaning. After this, anagrams appear to have been little used until the 13th century AD, when the Jewish Cabalists also attributed a mystical significance to them.

Anagrams started to become popular in Europe in the middle Ages. In the days of French royalty
Louis XIII actually appointed a Royal Anagrammatist : Thomas Billon to entertain the Court with amusing anagrams of people's names.

However, the principal activity of anagrammatist in the middle Ages was in forming anagrams on religious texts (see
Biblia Anagrammatica by Walter Begley ).

In the past authors have anagrammed their names to create pseudonyms. For example
Francios Rabelais became Alcofribas Nasier and Calvinus became Alcuinus.

Modern Uses of Anagrams

In the 16th and 17th centuries, scientists, such as
Galileo, Huygens and Robert Hooke often recorded their results in anagram form to stake their claim on a discovery and prevent anyone else claiming the credit.

The 19th century brought about the vogue of anagramming the
names of famous people (see also celebrity anagrams) something which is still very popular today. This era also gave us the cognate anagram where the anagram has some relevance to the original, e.g. an anagram of Astronomer is Moon starer.

In recent decades, anagrams have become popular in a different role. They are often included in the clues for cryptic crosswords.

There is nevertheless still great skill required to create good anagrams.

Anagrams are not quite such a modern idea as you might imagine.
History of Anagrams dates back to 4th century

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