Frivolity

Word games revisited

Lee Sigelman Jun 15 '09

A couple of days ago, I posted a little mental exercise, challenging “Monkey Cage” readers to come up with a nine-letter English word that meets the following criteria:

If you remove one of its letters and leave all the remaining letters in the same order, the remaining eight letters form another English word. If you then remove another letter and leave all the remaining letters in the same order, you again are left with a word, this one with seven letters. If you repeat this exercise until you have just one letter remaining, you will have had a word at every step.

The word I had in mind was startling.

Well, today I received a comment that goes way, way, way beyond my original post, and should provide many more hours of self-torture than I did for those who like to play word games. Thus, I’m pulling it up from the “Comments” section, where many people might miss it.

The commenter is Philip (Flip) Kromer. Flip, buddy, you’ve got way too much time on your hands.

Anyway, here’s what Flip had to say:

What a neat puzzler, thanks!

I’m taking “word” to mean “listed in the Official Scrabble Tournament Word List”. (Though many of its words are uncommon, all of them appear in at least one major english dictionary http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_Scrabble_Players_Dictionary)…

I came up with “startled” (8) on my own (started-stared-stare-star-tar-ar-a), and then the somwhat inelegant “startlers” (9) (yes, this is listed as a word in the scrabble dictionary) — but I somehow never saw “startling”. In order to make myself quit playing with this, I wrote a program to list all the words.

There is one 11-letter word, with three paths to ‘i’:
3 complecting
(goes through COMPTING and OPING).

There are 18 10-letter words. I’ve listed the number of paths before each:
16 carrousels
3 completing
2 discussers
48 estrangers
24 glassiness
11 insolating
12 maceraters
48 madrassahs
4 parcheesis
7 princesses
32 restarting
3 scratchers
20 stampeders
22 staunchest
48 stranglers
15 strappings
4 streambeds
7 twitchiest

Of them I think “streambeds – streambed – streamed – steamed – teamed – tamed – tame – tam – am – a” is my favorite.

There are an additional 226 nine-letter words:

40 abridgers
8 acanthous
27 acerbated
6 acerbates
27 acierated
6 acierates
2 agonistes
18 ascarides
6 aspersers
30 barytones
8 bilanders
18 bleachers
5 boardings
1 bowelling
29 brainiest
7 brashiest
5 brassiest
15 breachers
13 broachers
5 cardinals
8 caroluses
12 carousels
24 carousers
4 carrousel
10 chamoises
36 chaunters
3 classiest
3 classisms
3 classists
16 cleansers
6 cocreated
6 cocreates
3 coempting
3 competing
3 computing
3 couplings
6 craunches
37 crewmates
16 deflaters
8 deprivers
2 discusses
5 draggling
3 drownding
6 estopping
8 estranged
16 estranger
16 estranges
9 estraying
5 fraggings
16 frillings
24 gambolled
26 gangsters
32 gestating
21 glassiest
24 glassines
88 grabblers
2 grandeurs
18 gratineed
18 gratinees
6 groupings
6 healthier
6 heathenry
52 insolated
57 insolates
25 islanders
11 isolating
20 klatsches
27 lacerated
6 lacerates
24 laminated
24 laminates
25 lamisters
10 largesses
18 launchers
3 laureated
3 laureates
4 lingulate
27 macerated
6 macerater
6 macerates
8 maculated
8 maculates
16 madrasahs
16 madrassah
16 madrassas
56 maligners
3 maligning
44 mantelets
34 mantillas
24 milliners
3 millinery
12 ministers
2 outranged
2 outranges
3 paintings
2 parcheesi
2 parchesis
48 patinated
16 patinates
12 pearlites
3 perilling
16 picketers
6 piercings
317 pilasters
92 pinasters
4 pinnacled
8 pinnacles
333 plaisters
160 plankters
150 pleathers
19 prattlers
16 preachers
8 prepaving
3 pretaping
4 prewarmed
6 prickings
10 pricklier
6 prickling
7 princesse
5 prissiest
3 rancheros
16 refloated
1 regionals
31 relapsers
16 replanted
43 restarted
32 restating
24 roadsters
21 saltiness
2 scrabbled
1 scraggily
3 scrapings
46 scrappers
11 scrappier
9 scrapping
3 scratches
6 scrooping
11 shaggiest
8 shallowed
80 sheathers
32 shinglers
6 shoppings
4 showering
8 showrings
4 skirtings
11 slaggiest
22 slattings
24 smaltines
11 snaggiest
14 snappiest
25 solanders
11 solvating
159 sparklers
42 sparklier
2 sparkling
1 sparlings
3 spinnings
6 spiriting
66 splashers
6 splashier
176 splatters
11 splatting
20 splitters
12 splitting
3 sprattled
8 springers
1 springier
96 spritzers
22 staggiest
98 stalkings
10 stampeded
10 stampeder
10 stampedes
11 stanchers
11 stanchest
4 starlings
22 starriest
181 startlers
40 startling
11 staunches
9 stoppling
9 stranders
16 strangers
8 strangest
8 strangled
16 strangler
16 strangles
43 strappers
7 strappier
6 strapping
4 streambed
1 strickled
32 stringers
8 stringier
30 strippers
6 stropping
30 switchers
14 tacklings
4 tallithes
8 thrashers
12 threaders
3 threadier
24 thrillers
14 thwacking
14 trackings
54 tramplers
12 trampling
9 trappings
12 treadlers
2 truckings
2 truckling
16 twaddlers
28 twanglers
7 twitchers
2 twitchier
10 unitizers
9 uplinking
172 upraisers
5 upreached
8 upreaches
4 whackiest
8 whittlers
7 witchiest
14 wranglers
3 wrappings
8 wreathers