a weblog of wordplay by Eric Harshbarger
Word SearchingI've been fascinated by words and wordplay (i.e. "logology") for as long as I can remember. I recall noting my first anagram on a bulletin board in the 3rd grade. I remember being fascinated by the word "skiing" because it had a double-i present; and I remember looking for more such words (TAXIING, HAWAII, NAZIISM, GENII, RADII).
I still have a very old set of pages that I typed on an electric typewriter which details some of the word oddities and patterns I was intrigued by. One task I set for myself early on was to find a word whose length was equal to its initial letter's index in the alphabet (e.g. 1-letter words beginning with "A", 2-letter for "B", et cetera).
This was all done long before computers and searchable wordlists were available to a 9 year old kid. The list I found by scanning a couple of dictionaries I had access to at the time:
A Be Cat Door Eagle Forget Ghastly Habitant Innocence Jackrabbit Kitchenware Luminescence Megalomaniacs Neocolonialism Ophthalmologist Parapsychologist Quasquicentennial Radioimmunological Straightforwardness Thermophosphorescent Ultraminiaturizations V W X Y ZSince then, of course, I've obtained more dictionaries (I own five or six unabridged tomes at this point), plus the Merriam Webster's Third New International [MW3] came with a nifty CD-Rom that makes searching much easier (it almost feels like cheating, really).
Unfortunately, I have not been able to improve upon the list above. Things still crap out at the 21-letter "V" stage.
I have, however, been able to get a more thorough list of the following sort:
A B C D dehydroepiandrosteronE F deinstitutionalizinG cinephotomicrograpH I J DneprodzerzhinsK immunogeneticaL sensationalisM interrogatioN clavicembalO stewardshiP QaraqalpaQ lengthieR whisperS chemisT bureaU ollaV ploW taX aY ZThe entries for -E, -G, -H, -K, -Q, and -V are all new to me (I just looked them up while typing this webpage). Yes, some of them are rather obscure words (and a couple are designated as "usually capitalized"), but they do all appear in my MW3. There are many other lexicons out there, however, so maybe a few more of the blanks can be filled in.
Even with all of the new technology, word searching is not yet a completely trivial task.
P.S.: The first word challenge above has been so close to my heart that I included it as a puzzle at my First Puzzle Party (Puzzle #4).
[8 December 2005]
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