Palindrome

(3 syl.). A word or line which reads backwards and forwards alike, as Madam, also Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor. (Greek, palin dromo, to run back again.) (See Sotadic.)

The following Greek palindrome is very celebrated:

NI$si$ONANOMHMATAMHMONANO$si$IN (Wash my transgressions, not only my face). The legend round the font at St. Mary's, Nottingham. Also on the font in the basilica of St. Sophia, Constantinople; also on the font of St. Stephen d'Egres, Paris; at St. Menin's Abbey, Orléans; at Dulwich College; and at the following churches: Worlingsworth (Suffolk), Harlow (Essex), Knapton (Norfolk), Melton Mowbray (it has been removed to a neighbouring hamlet), St. Martin's, Ludgate (London), and Hadleigh (Suffolk). (See Ingram: Churches of London, vol. ii.; Malcolm: Londinum Redivivum, vol. iv. p. 356; Allen: London, vol. iii. p. 530.)

It is said that when Napoleon was asked whether he could have invaded England, he answered “Able was I ere I saw Elba.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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