XO Box: A Different Kind of Palindrome

Thanks to hanging out with some puzzling people on Facebook, and growing up playing word games in general, I noticed oddities of letter arrangements while I’m writing. Like say I was figuring out how to make the past tense of “video”, then wrote “videoed”, then noticed the “EOE” sequence is pretty unusual in English. Maybe I’d then notice that “DEOED” is even weirder, and might make a nice core to a palindrome. But I while pursuing that, I notice that one of my early pairings, “I’VE VIDEOED”, consists of two five-letter palindrome sequences. I might run that direction instead, and decide to go for a “Magic Square” of a palindrome, with five such five-letter sequences. So I might end up with a scenario where I’d like to let Edward Sr. know that I shot some video of a half-dozen islands, and I say “I’ve videoed six isles, elder Ed.” Or:

An example XO Box: the letters I V E V I D E O E D S I X I S L E S E L D E R E D, arranged in a 5-by-5 square. © J. Hunter Johnson

An example XO Box

If I were going to name that kind of thing, I might call it an “XO Box”, since that’s also a five-letter palindrome and the thing itself ends up in a box shape.

Hypothetically, that is. But enough theory; I think I’ll go write this blog post about it right now, and call it an “XO Box” for reals! I’d love to see some more examples (or 4×4s or 6×6s or …), in the comments or linked back.

—jhunterj

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