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Anagrams are a type of word transformation in which a string is rearranged in order to form a new, valid string (regardless of whether the resulting string makes sense). A common feature of many puzzles, anagrams date back to ancient Greece, where they held a lot of mystical significance, particularly with regard to the creation and application of 'magic'.
Background[edit | edit source]
History[edit | edit source]
Anagrams have an extensive history, with origins in ancient Greek mysticism. TO DO
Anagrams were also very popular with those who spoke Latin at the height of Latin literacy. Some notable anagrams arose during this time, albeit without known origins. The first was an anagram of the beginning of the Ave Maria prayer (Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum/Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you), which can be anagrammed into a new phrase relating to the original text (Virgo serena, pia, munda et immaculata/Serene virgin, pious, clean, and spotless). TO DO
Usage[edit | edit source]
Outside of hunt puzzles, anagrams are often used on names. When a name other than one's own is being anagrammed, most commonly it's for the purpose of satire or finding fun connections. However, many people who anagram their own name, particularly authors, artists, and other wanting to stay anonymous, do it in order to create a pseudonym. TO DO
Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]
Regardless of whether they're used as a puzzle element, misdirection, or a simple fun game, anagrams function the same. A word or phrase is taken, the order of the letters are changed, and a new word or phrase is left in its wake. While some results make a lot of sense, especially when paired with their original text, many others don't, which is fine. In puzzles, strange anagrams are commonplace, with the task of figuring out what a strange clue or picture represents being a fun challenge to many.
Anagrams are very simple to perform, but require the right materials to perform them well. Since anagrams rely on rearranging established text into other, valid words, certain starting words or phrases are not fit for anagramming. For example, a word like TACK cannot be anagrammed well into any english words, with the closest being KCAT, a radio station. Uncommon letters, a bad vowel/consonant balance, and too few letters to work with can all be detriments to a potential anagram.
There are two notable variations on a basic anagram that are commonly used in hunt puzzles, and both involve changing what letters are being rearranged. A transaddition is an anagram in which one letter gets added to the set of letters prior to being rearranged. Conversely, a transdeletion is the opposite, where a letter is removed before the rest is rearranged. These two transformations are very common in hunt puzzles because the provide a single letter that's affected by the puzzle differently than the rest, meaning that it's a clear candidate for extraction.
Strategy[edit | edit source]
Notable Examples[edit | edit source]
Played Straight[edit | edit source]
- CHINA KILNS (MITMH 2017) (web) - A chain of anagrams, in which Click to revealeach clue can itself be anagrammed to form a valid answer to another clue, including the two capitalized phrases in the flavortext.
- This Anagram Does Not Exist (Teammate 2020) (web) - An excellent example of anagrams resulting in nonsense phrases, this puzzle uses both pictures representing strange phrases and clues to nonexistent words and phrases, with one picture matching each clue.
Notable Twists[edit | edit source]
- A Puzzle Consisting Entirely of Random Anagrams (MITMH 2015) (web) - While everything in this puzzle is technically an anagram, and the title doesn't lie, a solver's first look at this puzzle might be jarring. What they'll see is in fact, hundred of 'anagrams' of the word RANDOM, which since they don't usually create valid words, are more akin to Click to revealpermutations.
- Indirect Anagrams (SILPH 2021) (web) - Rather than using anagrams of individual letters, this puzzle takes things a step further and uses Click to revealanagraphs, where the line segments used to make up letters can be rearranged as well as the letters themselves.