“Able was I ere I saw Elba.” It’s called a “palindrome,” defined as “a word, phrase or sentence which reads the same forward or backward.”

“Able was I ere I saw Elba.”

It’s called a “palindrome,” defined as “a word, phrase or sentence which reads the same forward or backward.”

I didn’t realize there were so many.

The one about Elba is the first I can remember hearing about, way back when. It is purportedly a statement by Napoleon Bonaparte as he contemplated life on the island of Elba, to which he had been exiled. His first exile, that is.

The context helps make it memorable. Otherwise, let’s face it, the language is a bit clunky. Only poets use “ere” anymore. It means “before.”

And the first part sounds like something the “Star Wars” character Yoda would say. “Ah, emperor was he.”

Another well-known palindrome is “Madam, I’m Adam.” Or perhaps you prefer the expanded version, “Madam, in Eden I’m Adam.”

Both versions presumably would be addressed to Eve — another palindrome.

Adam and Eve also would be the first humans to be “Dad” and “Mom” — also palindromes — but I don’t recall a “Sis” in Eden.

Others of the single-word variety include “bib,” “bob,” “did,” “dud,” “gag,” “deed,” “noon,” “toot” and “level.”

The real challenge, of course, is creating phrases and sentences. I’ll share some of the more interesting (and clean) ones that I was able to find on various Web sites.

Religion is a popular theme:

“Dogma: I am God.”

“Dennis sinned.”

“Cain: a maniac.”

“Devil never even lived.”

“We panic in a pew.”

The animal kingdom also is well represented:

“Deer breed.”

“Stack cats.”

“Senile felines.”

“Step on no pets.”

“Laminate pet animal.”

“Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.”

“No garden, one dragon.”

Occasionally the two topics combine:

“Do geese see God?”

“A dog! A panic in a pagoda!”

Several are about food and drink:

“No lemons, no melon.”

“Evil olive.”

“Campus motto: Bottoms up, Mac.”

“Lager, sir, is regal.”

And then there’s the auto industry:

“A Toyota’s a Toyota.”

“I was sad — no Hondas saw I.”

“Was it a car or a cat I saw?”

How about advice and admonitions?

“Don’t nod.”

“Dump mud.”

“Borrow or rob.”

“Mix a maxim.”

“Name no one man.”

“Never odd or even.”

“Too hot to hoot.”

“Rise to vote, sir.”

And then there are some that are just plain fun:

“Satire: Veritas.”

“I prefer pi.”

“Ma is as selfless as I am.”

“No, it is opposition.”

“Slap my gym pals.”

“So many dynamos.”

“Star comedy by Democrats.”

“A man, a plan, a canal — Panama!”

“Drab as a fool, as aloof as a bard.”

Surely Shakespeare would enjoy that one. Maybe he did.

Contact Barry Wood at bwood@rrstar.com or read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/woodonwords/.