What is a palindrome? Meaning of the term, next palindrome date after ‘Twosday’ and what does ambigram mean

22/2/22 is a rare and special date as it’s a palindrome and an ambigram

On 22 February 2022, the UK will have its first and only date of 2022 that is both a palindrome and ambigram.

But what exactly is a palindrome, and what is an ambigram?

And when will the next palindromic dates take place?

What is a palindrome? 

A palindrome comes from the Greek word "palin" which means again and "dromos" which means direction. It is something that reads the same forwards as it does backwards.

Words, dates and numbers can be palindromes.

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For example, the name "Hannah" reads the same when written backwards.

Words such as "kayak", "civic" and "radar" are also palindromes as they read the same in reverse.

Sometimes, phrases can be a palindrome, such as "do geese see God?" and "was it a car or a cat I saw?"

The longest palindromic word in the Oxford English Dictionary is "tattarrattat" coined in the 1922 novel Ulysses by James Joyce to imitate the sound of a knock on the door.

What are palindromic dates? 

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Some dates can also be a palindrome.

February 22 2022 is a palindromic date as it reads the same forwards as it does backwards 22/2/22.

In the US, the date 22 February 2022 is also a palindrome and is written as 2/22/22.

It’s a rare occurrence when dates are palindromic in the US and the UK due to the difference in how they’re written.

In total, there are several palindromic dates this millennium for the UK, with the first being on 10 February 2001, written as 10/02/2001.

The last will be on 29 December 2192, written as 29/12/2192.

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The next palindromic date will be 3 February 2030, written as 03/02/2030.

The next five palindromic dates are:

  • 13/02/2031
  • 23/02/2032
  • 04/02/2040
  • 14/02/2041
  • 24/02/2042

In the 21st century, the last palindromic date is 29/02/2092 which is significant as it’s not only a palindrome but a leap day too.

What is an ambigram? 

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An ambigram is a word or a design that means the same when viewed from a different direction or perspective.

The date 22/2/22 arranged in a different perspective, such as vertically or upside down, would also read the same making the day a rare phenomenon.

Only 0, 1, 2 and 8 are ambigram numbers.

Americans can use January, February, August, October, November, December dates this century and these months used symmetrical digits but their list requires the day to end in 02 get the start of the year.

Although very rare, there are several dates that are ambigrams in the UK format, such as:

  • 20/02/2002
  • 01/02/2010
  • 11/02/2012
  • 02/02/2020
  • 12/02/2021
  • 22/02/2022
  • 18/02/2081
  • 28/02/2082

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The word ambigram was coined in 1983 by an American scholar of cognitive science, Douglas Hofstadter.

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