The Anagram Game

May 6, 2011 at 2:42 am 1 comment

I have a question.

Is AEGNNTT an anagram of TANGENT?

According to, it’s not. That site defines an anagram as “a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase.”

But the game Anagrams involves forming words from a random collection of letters.

In the book Word Freak, author Stefan Fatsis calls AEGNNTT an alphagram of TANGENT. It’s a rearrangement of the letters in alphabetical order.

Recently, my sons and I have been playing The Anagram Game. Generally, I give them a random collection of letters, so perhaps the name is a misnomer. In any case, they have fun trying to rearrange the letters into real words. Sometimes, I present them with a collection of letters that happens to form a word; for instance, tonight I gave them N-I-G-H-T. They quickly rearranged the letters to form THING. Sometimes, I put the letters into alphabetical order, like A-A-B-B-E-L-L-S. Eli impressed me by decoding that one in less than a second: BASEBALL. But most times, I give them a random arrangement of letters, like U-N-A-T, which can form TUNA or AUNT.

Anyone know what you call an random arrangement of letters that can be rearranged to form a word or phrase? If no such word exists, then I would like to suggest scramblagram.

Four Scrabble

While playing the Anagram Game yesterday, I presented Alex with G-O-N-L. “No, daddy,” he said, “the best anagram of LONG is N-G-L-O.”

Well. I guess I stand corrected.

I asked him, “Is there a best anagram of LAWN?”

He immediately answered, “W-N-L-A.”

“And is there a best anagram of WALK?”

He again answered quickly: “L-K-W-A.”

Interestingly, Eli agreed with him in every case. Apparently my four-year-old sons are privy to a universal truth regarding the reordering of letters in a word, about which I am helplessly unaware.

Luckily, Alex was willing to reveal the pattern. “I always put the two back letters first, then the first letter, and then the vowel.”

So there you have it. The system only works for words of the form consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant, but that’ll do just fine if you’re looking for scramblagrams of LIST, PARK, SULK, BOWL, or RENT.

As it turns out, the word anagrams itself has an anagram: ars magna (Latin, “great art”).

The following are several of my favorite mathy anagrams.


decimal point = I’m a dot in place

schoolmaster = the classroom

What is the square root of nine? = THREE, for an equation shows it!

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The Humor and Poetry of Jims Maher Wu, California Earn MathCounts Titles

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Wordy22alen  |  November 11, 2022 at 5:45 am

    anagram refers to word or phrase that can be rearranged to give a different word or phrase.
    For example: SILENT can be rearranged as LISTEN
    But there is an insightful meaning in this, if you wish to listen, you need to be silent too. anagrams


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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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