It’s that joyful season when anagram freaks (like me) dig deep to see what things we can spell by reshuffling letters in the names of leading candidates for President of the US of A.
Break out your Scrabble blocks, and let’s begin.
First, a note: When anagramming public figures, I shoot for humor – ideally with a mixture of results both flattering and unflattering. But this isn’t always possible. It depends on what letters are available, what words these dictate, and on luck in spotting happy combinations.
I also must advise that most meaningful anagrams, for any given word, phrase, or name, seem to fall into the “unflattering” category. This isn’t always true, but it’s typical. (Don’t ask me why.) If your guy or gal gets zinged here, that was the best I could do. Please just remember this is wordplay, not political commentary.
Please note that unless otherwise specified, all anagrams that follow are of my own invention:
Concerning the real-estate mogul, others have pointed out that the letters in “Donald Trump” rearrange to spell “dump ton lard”, “damp old runt”, and the like. Most of these, in my view, seem pretty lame.
Hoping for better, I wondered what we’d get should we work instead with his full name, “Donald John Trump Sr.” Usually, more letters make for more and better anagrams.
Not so much here: That full name has way too many consonants per vowel – and the “J”, being uncommon, doesn’t help. (We’ll have the same problem below with “Jeb Bush”; stay tuned.)
I therefore trotted out a standard anagram trick: Use the initials (in this case, “DJT”) as a “word” itself. (Or even “DJT Sr.”)
Then we get “DJT plans drum honor” (for himself, of course). Other choices: “DJT? Darn – plush moron!”, “DJT Sr.? Oh, darn, no plum!” and “DJT Sr.: Horn up, old man!”
On the flip side, many folks have noted that “Hillary Clinton” consists of letters that spell “Only I can thrill!” and “Lynch a trillion.” Further, that “Hillary Rodham Clinton” rearranges to spell “I’d only thrill a monarch!” (My own contribution for this variant of her name: “I hardly halo Mr. Clinton.”)
But did I mention how more letters, within reason, make more and better anagrams? This time it works: There’s a veritable cornucopia in the spelling of “Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton”.
My two favorites are “I handled harlotry in Monica L” and “An old hen, I’ll do matriarchy in.” (The first is mine; the second, from ace anagrammer Mike Mesterton-Gibbons.)
Other anagrams from the same letters include “manly honored nil-radical hit”, “horrid and nominally ethical”, “Oh! Maidenly, draconian thrill”, “Oh Man! Darn! Idyllic lionheart!”; and “Oh Hell! I’m tyrannical android.”
In and of itself, “Ted Cruz” seems to present not one meaningful anagram (unless we count “curt zed”). Five consonants including a “z”, with only two vowels. Precious little to work with!
Instead, let’s unscramble his full name, “Rafael Edward Cruz”. Then we find “dreadful war craze”, “crawler fraud daze”, “crazed, awful, drear”, “law czar defrauder”, and “redraw Dracula fez”.
Since we promised to look for flattering anagrams, let’s try again. This time we’ll go with “Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz”, counting his nickname as part of the longer name. Will that help?
Even with this expansion, the kindest anagrams I’ve so far found are “adult crawdad freezer”, “rare, reduced waltz fad”, and “dear, dazed, artful crew”. What do these phrases even mean? I have no idea!
But at least they aren’t quite as stinging as “crazed, awful, retarded”, “crazed, flawed, rude rat”, “daft daze, cruel reward”, “led curt, dazed warfare”, and some other permutations we might derive.
The senator from Vermont doesn’t seem to have a middle name. No matter:
The letters in “Bernie Sanders” transpose to spell “brand eeriness”, “benders arisen”, “a sinner breeds”, “sneered brains”, “send in bearers”, and “is drab ‘n’ serene”.
The letters in “Marco Rubio” don’t give much leeway. Barely more than “I’m our cobra”, “auric broom”, and a few other (mostly lame) combinations.
We’ll fare better with his full name, “Marco Antonio Rubio”. These letters yield “Coo! I’m a brain on tour”. We’ve also got “I – or a bum coronation”, “O No! I, I’m Cuban orator”, “our corona ambition”, “Boo! Armour in action”, and “bum an oratorio icon”.
But if you love the senator from Florida, brace yourself, because the same letters also spell “a taboo, moronic ruin”, “Coo! Rambo ruination”, “Ciao! Mourn abortion”, and “our orc abomination”.
For “Ben Carson” we get “neon crabs”, “corn beans”, “nab censor”, “OB scanner”, “narc bones”, “bran scone”, and probably lots more similar. All pretty lame. Same problem as before – too few letters.
But expanding to the neurosurgeon’s full name – “Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr.” – runs us headlong into the “unflattering” problem: Despite my best effort to create complimentary anagrams, I’m only finding ones like “nonsensical moron mars job”, “nobleman croons major sins”, and “Man! Major slob on corniness”. (Perhaps this last refers to the good doctor’s saying the pyramids were built for grain storage – a view dismissed by most experts as sloppy research.)
I’m hardly the first to note that “Carly Fiorina” consists of the same letters as “Carry on? I fail!” and “Californiary”. (The first is by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons; the second, from Alex Christensen.)
For these same letters, my own compositions include “clarify on air”, “clarion fairy”, “an airy frolic”, “racy, fair lion”, “I, no racy flair”, and “ironical fray”.
As usual, let’s check a more complete version of her name: “Cara Carleton Fiorina”. Here we find “a Californian creator”, “fanatical or rare icon”, and “farcical, inane orator”.
Including her maiden name (“Cara Carleton Sneed Fiorina”) gives us “enforces rational radiance”, but also “fiasco and rare intolerance”. Take your pick!
For anagram purposes, the seven letters in “Jeb Bush” are even more difficult than those in “Ted Cruz”. So let’s tackle the longer, real-name version: “John Ellis Bush”.
Then we get “I shun hell’s job”, “Shh! ‘Join us’ bell”, “Huh! Job illness”, “Hell’s hubs join”, “Hi! Lush job lens”, and finally “Shh! I – Jeb! – so null”.
This dark-horse candidate has drawn a lot of attention from the anagram community. That’s not on account of his policy proposals. It’s just that his name, for anagram tinkering, is of roughly optimum length and has a good letter-mix.
Other anagrammers thus have already suggested “male normality”, “I roam mentally”, “I’m morally neat” (or “immorally neat” – take your pick), and several similar rearrangements.
Those, though, hardly scratch the surface. I could add many more, starting with “loyal man merit”, “manly male riot”, “mainly mole-rat”, “loamy terminal”, “arm lionly team”, “minor team ally”, “llama enormity”, and “a momentary ill.”
The Question Ahead
There you have it. Our American nation stands at a crossroad, defined by the following choice: Will we want a President whose name is anagrammatically rich and generous? Or anagrammatically poor and stingy?
I have no answer. But clearly, we are going to find out!