Mar 1, 2013 David Lang

Friday Fun: Hannah is a Palindrome

In yesterday's post, I gave Hebrew students a technique for garnering extra credit by searching for geminate verbs: verbs like הלל in which the second and third letters of the lexical form happen to be the same. To do that, we used the question mark wildcard to represent each letter in the lexical form, and then we specified that the third letter had to be the same as the second by placing (=2) after the third question mark. This ability to specify that different letters must match was added specifically for these kinds of original language searches, but we can also use it to have a little fun with our English Bibles.

"Palindrome" is a fancy term for a word that reads the same way both forward and backward, such as the name "Hannah." (There's a popular children's book with the title Hannah is a Palindrome.) Since we can have Accordance find words with matching letters, we can easily find all the palindromes in the Bible.

Let's start with three-letter palindromes. To find those, enter three question marks, and place (=1) after the third question mark. Like this: ???(=1)

To find a four-letter palindrome, you would enter four question marks, placing (=2) after the third question mark, and (=1) after the fourth: ???(=2)?(=1)

For a five letter palindrome, simply add another question mark to the beginning of the previous search: ????(=2)?(=1). The third question mark does not need to match any other letters.

You get the idea. If you want to get a list of all the palindromes in the Bible, try this search: ???(=1) <OR> ???(=2)?(=1) <OR> ????(=2)?(=1) <OR> ????(=3)?(=2)?(=1). I tried searching for seven-, eight-, nine-, and ten-letter palindromes, but didn't find any in the translation I searched. Can anyone else find a Biblical palindrome longer than six letters?

Once you've done this search, select Analysis from the Stats & Graphs icon to get a list of all the palindromes in the Bible.


Note that because the question mark can represent any letter or number, our search found numbers as well as words. Can anyone come up with an easy way to exclude the numbers?

Update: Not ten minutes after I posted this, my youngest daughter pointed out that today's date is 3/1/13 (when written using the American convention of month/day/year). It would appear this post on palindromes was more timely than I realized!

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Archived Comments

Steve King

March 04, 2013 7:04 AM

Looks like you can use a hyphen to exclude numbers from the wildcard. So something like ?(-0-9)??(=1) seems to work by making sure the first character is not a number. You obviously need to repeat that for each search.

I must admit I'm constantly amazed (and unfortunately confused!!) by the searching in Accordance. So thank's for these posts they do help me to understand the type of things that can be done. 

David Lang

March 04, 2013 8:03 AM

Well done, Steve. Another way would be to specify that the first character MUST be a letter, like this: ?(a-z)??(=1). As you pointed out, this would need to be done for each expression in the search.