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


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

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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. -arn -ood -ost, -ude. -ell, -ain -hat -his -ode -uns -eal -low. -ant -ait -ery -ong.

    -eff -eir.

  3. 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


  4. 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


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