One Letter at a Time

The other day, I saw the following brain-teaser posted on Reddit:

tumblr_lcev8fTt341qbjttfo1_500along with the claim that “Startling” is the only 9 letter word where you can remove one letter at a time and still have a word.

Let’s see if that’s true using IPython and a long list of words from

[ed. note in 2018 – this link expired. I’m not quite sure where it went. Sorry!]It turns out that there are seven words of length 9 that match this property,  and one word of length 10: “Splittings” (actually an incredibly relevant word to this problem).

Just goes to show: don’t believe everything you read on the internet 😉

One thought on “One Letter at a Time

  1. jtp273

    The problem with recursion (and this solution) is that it only finds the first answer when there may be many. Here’s a divergence from one of your answers – it doesn’t change the number of words, but it’s interesting that you can take different paths with some of the words.



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