Four Letter Words

Andy commented:

There’s one other similar conundrum that has always intrigued me:
What 3-letter suffix can be added to the most letters of the alphabet to make valid 4-letter words?

True word nerds just use their brains and knowledge of language. Guys like me use VBA.

Warning: This code takes forever to run. Run it at your own risk.

Sub FourLetterWords()
   
    Dim i As Long, j As Long, k As Long
    Dim lStart As Long
    Dim sWord As String
   
    For i = 97 To 97 + 25
        For j = 97 To 97 + 25
            For k = 97 To 97 + 25
                For lStart = 97 To 97 + 25
                    sWord = Chr$(lStart) & Chr$(i) & Chr$(j) & Chr$(k)
                    If Application.CheckSpelling(sWord) Then
                        Sheet1.Cells(Sheet1.Rows.Count, 1).End(xlUp).Offset(1, 0).Value = sWord
                    End If
                Next lStart
            Next k
        Next j
    Next i
   
End Sub

There was only one with 13 matches.

The array formula in Column B is

{=SUM(–(RIGHT($A$2:$A$2759,3)=RIGHT(A2,3)))}

The three-letter suffixes with 12 hits: aps, ats, ear, est, ill, ock, and ops. There were 1,145 unique suffixes, 644 of which only had one match.

If you want to see the whole list, you can download FourLetterWords.xls.zip

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5 thoughts on “Four Letter Words

  1. :-)
    Utterly fantastic.

    I owe you some virtual beer. Or if you’re gonna be at the next UK Excel Conference, UK Tableau User Group, or US Tableau User Conference, or every in Oxford, England, I will buy you a real one, or two.

    The problem now is, what word-nerd game are my wife and I going to play in car journeys next? Four-letter suffixes…? I think not!

  2. Based on the Scrabble wordlist (which I trust more than the spell checker, which probably doesn’t try to include every obscure word), ILL is the winner

    ILL17
    INS16
    ATS16
    AYS16
    APS15
    OWS15
    ITS14
    AGS14
    EES14
    AIL13
    EAR13
    ENT13
    ETS13
    INE13
    OBS13
    ORE13
    OTS13
    AWS13

  3. as dermotb said – the one thing this little game taught me is that the spell checker is definitely NOT a good indicator of what is and is not a valid word.

    – It includes several (common) acronyms that are definitely not words.

    – It Bowdlerises the language (You can say -uck but not -unt for instance).

    – It includes modern jargon-words yet excludes many not-yet-obscure older ones.

    That said: It was fun playing with it

    M

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