What Is Anagram?
Anagrams are jumbled up letters of a word or phrase that spell out another word or phrase. For instance, "the earthquakes" becomes "the queer shakes" or "dormitory" becomes "dirty room."
The goal of an anagram is to rearrange the letters so that they reflect creatively on the original word. A clever (but perhaps unfair) anagram for William Shakespeare is "I am a weakish speller." It’s true; Shakespeare spelled words creatively. However, there was no standardized spelling in the sixteenth century, so he was in good company!
How Do You Identify an Anagram in Writing?
There are fairly few literary anagrams. In Nabokov’s novel Lolita, one character is named "Vivian Darkbloom," which is an anagram for Vladimir Nabokov himself. J.K. Rowling uses the anagram "I am Lord Voldemort" for another villain, Tom Marvolo Riddle, to illustrate that they are one and the same.
If you can find the anagram, it means you are a very careful reader. But identifying anagrams is unlikely to contribute much to a literary analysis; they are really just a clever form of wordplay.
Examples of Anagram
1. "Mother-in-law" becomes "woman hitler."
2. "Punishment" is "nine thumps."
3. "Desperation" equals "A rope ends it."
4. "A decimal point" becomes "A dot in place."
5. "A carton of cigarettes" = "I got a taste for cancer."
6. "Stone age" becomes "stage one."
7. "Metamorphosis" "promises a moth."
(View all literary devices)