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Somewhat related to this question, but I'm interested in a phrase, not just a single word.

The longest I am aware of is

A man, a plan, a canal: Panama

Are there longer palindromic phrases?

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3  
Seems "off topic" to me. –  FumbleFingers Feb 19 '12 at 3:47
    
if only there were a palindrome that means "off topic" –  JeffSahol May 9 '12 at 2:30

5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

There is no upper limit to how long a palindrome can be. Poems have been written that are palindromes.

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It makes sense that there is no upper limit in theory - I am curious which have been discovered and are meaningful. –  fbrereto Feb 28 '11 at 18:50
1  
Well, but Demetri Martin is just stringing individual palindromes together. Hardly a coherent statement. –  Robusto Feb 28 '11 at 18:54
2  
Only the first two and last two lines are individual palindromes. –  Kosmonaut Feb 28 '11 at 19:00
    
Ah, true. I didn't notice that at first. –  Robusto Feb 28 '11 at 19:04

Wikipedia:

In English, two palindromic novels have been published: Dr Awkward & Olson in Oslo by Lawrence Levine (1986, 31954 words), and Satire: Veritas by David Stephens (1980, 58795 words). In French, Oulipo writer George Perec's "Grand Palindrome" (1969) is 5,556 letters in length. In Hebrew, Ghil'ad Zuckermann wrote a 153-word palindromic story called "Lear's in Israel."

For much shorter palindromes: The first place I look for constrained writing is Mike Keith's website, and it has a few short palindromes and a story about them, though neither is as impressive as some of his other work.

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2  
Oh, and there's a genre of Sanskrit poetry called viloma-kavya, in which reading the verses forwards narrates one story, and reading them backwards narrates a different story. –  ShreevatsaR Feb 28 '11 at 19:55

Peter Norvig discusses this here, suggests his own, and links to another possibility.

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1  
Thank you! Great answer, and website. Peter Norvig is more versatile than I ever realized. –  Ellie Kesselman Feb 19 '12 at 20:11

The longest coherent palindromic statement sentence I've ever heard of was reported by Brendan Gill of The New Yorker, which I encountered in a book of his some years ago.

T. Eliot, top bard, notes putrid tang emanating, is sad; I'd assign it a name: gnat dirt upset on drab pot toilet.

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This is a longer palindromic phrase (though not necessarily the longest possible):

Doc, note I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.

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