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Ambigram

An ambigram is a word, number, or other figure that looks the same or can still be read when viewed (or rotated) upside down. Sometimes, the new orientation yields the same exact sequence of characters in the same order; in other cases, it yields a different sequence (though one that is still readable or has a recognizable meaning). NOON is a simple example of an ambigram—it still reads as NOON even when viewed upside down. See?! Another example is the word dollop. Such ambigrams are said to have rotational symmetry, meaning they yield the same sequence when viewed (or rotated) upside down. Other ambigrams yield a new word, number, or sequence when viewed upside down. For example, the word MOM viewed upside down yields the word WOW (and vice versa). Ambigrams are different from palindromes, which read the same forward and backward. However, many simple ambigrams are also palindromes. The capitalized palindrome NOON is an example. (However, it wouldn’t be considered a traditional ambigram when it’s spelled in lowercase as noon, because when viewed upside down it looks like uoou, which isn’t commonly understood as a word or meaningful sequence.) Number sequences can also be ambigrams. A few simple examples are the numbers 808 (also a palindrome) and 609 (not a palindrome). Some dates are cited as ambigrams when rendered in numerical form. For example, the date December 2, 2021, can be considered an ambigram when rendered as 12-2-21 (or 12022021). (Note that this interpretation typically requires the numbers to be in the “digital” style common on digital clocks and calculators.) All of the examples given so far are of naturally occurring ambigrams. More complex ambigrams typically consist of characters that have been highly stylized to achieve the effect. Such ambigrams are often used as logos or as elements in graphic design. Example: I didn’t notice the logo was an ambigram until my hat fell upside down on the floor and I realized the image looked the same!


See also: Chatzy | Mississippi hot pocket | Susan Lucci | The ocho | Meatspace

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