On Palindromes, On Artwiculate

@spikelynch has written (gracefully, as usual) of his palindrome creation process on artwiculate. I’ll try to explain mine, as per @attentive‘s request – not because my approach is any better (or much different), but because I had a different experience with a different word.

Yesterday’s artwiculate word was “citadel”, and I wouldn’t normally bother doing a palindrome with “citadel”, because it seems a bit … I don’t know, dull? I attempted it anyway, on-and-off throughout the morning. By lunchtime there was this:


How I Produce a Series of Unsatisfactory Artwiculate Palindromes

I begin, obviously, by writing the artwiculate word of the day backwards, and playing with whatever turns up:


Now, while there are plenty of words that end in “led”, I know that “tic” will be a challenge. Not a lot of words that start with “tic”. So I’ve reminded myself of one alternative, “led at ic”, and I might come back to that. For now, though, I play with “led a tic”:


I love “tictac” because I’ve never seen it in a palindrome, and it seems anachronistic next to “citadel”. That makes me smile, but I don’t know what to do with “cat citadel”. There are other possibilities here, but I don’t see them until later.

Now I start thinking about where the hinge of the palindrome might go. Palindrome purists are very serious about their hinges. For example, this:

Stinker reknits.

with one word simply the reverse of the other, produces that double “r” in the middle. This:

Reknit, stinker.

with the palindrome hinging on the letter “s”, is considered superior.

Bearing that in mind, I start looking for words ending in “led” that might provide a good hinge.


OK, so I admit I googled here, because there are just too many words ending in “led”. And this showed up:


Look at that hinge! And now I’m interested, because a citadel is something you can actually assail, and the word is nicely archaic too. If I use the word “tic”, as in nervous tic, I can stop here.

“Citadel I assailed? A tic.”

But that’s pretty weak.


“Tickler” is nice (oh, how I wish I could have worked “elk” and “tickler” in there somehow). “Ticklish” is good, too, although I have no idea what a silk citadel might on the way back. Undaunted, I carry on in this vein, trying a ticklish spot, a ticklish prospect, and so on.


Frustrated, I remember “led at ic” and see what words starting with “ic” I can use. Obviously, there’s ice, icy …



This has yielded two possibilities, but they’re grammatically weak, even for palindromes:

Pace, citadel I assailed at icecap.

No citadel I assailed at icon.

I miss “tictac”, and I wish I could make “cat citadel” work. Then I remember (and this is a blunder I make all the time with palindromes) that it doesn’t have to be “cat”. A word ending in “cat” will do. Scat, muscat, or …


Regretfully, I give up on “magnificat”, but I refuse to give up on “tictac”. So, instead of “cat”, I consider “c at”:


“Stoic” and “antic” are also lovely and old-sounding, but not much use in reverse. I suppose that last effort could be a diary entry after a siege, by some typically laconic Caesar, and complete with an anachronism:

Panic, at citadel I assailed. A tictac. I nap.

But now I’m weary, and I find it less than marvellous, so I don’t tweet it.

It’s worth noting, though, that an unavoidable letter grouping (in this case, “t i c”) will always dominate the finished palindrome. Likewise, some choices I’ve made (“tictac”, and “assailed”) will affect everything else to come. With different, better choices, others might make better palindromes. I never tried, for example:

led at, I c

Bawled at, I crumple …

Drawled at, I castigate …

Tag! It’s a citadel, Ward …