acrostic əkrŏ´stĭk [key], arrangement of words or lines in which a series of initial, final, or other corresponding letters, when taken together, stand in a set order to form a word, a phrase, the alphabet, or the like. A famous acrostic was made on the Greek for Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior: Iesous Christos, Theou Uios, Soter (ch and th being each one letter in Greek). The initials spell ichthus, Greek for fish; hence the frequent use of the fish by early Christians as a symbol for Jesus. There are several alphabetic acrostics (pertaining to the Hebrew alphabet) in the Bible, e.g., in Ps. 119 and Lamentations. Acrostic verses are common, and very elaborate puzzles have been devised combining several schemes.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Literature: General