This is a short article about growing words.
Here are the rules: Start with a word, then make another longer word by adding one new letter. This new letter can be added at the beginning, end, or middle of the old word, but all the old letters have to remain in their original order.
Then using this new word, add another letter to make another new word, then another, then another …
How long a chain can you make?
It’s a fun programming exercise to find all the solutions. The size of the database is small enough that it can be handled entirely in memory if needed (The database of words I used contained approx. 170k English words). Also, the size of the data is small enough that, even if you select a particularly obtuse or brute-force algorithm, you still should be able to come up with the solutions in a reasonable time.
Here are some examples of the 266,264 solutions I found. (Many of the solutions are just two words in length, and a good percentage of them are the simple addition of an ‘S’ to the end of a word to make a plural.)
LED FLED FILED FAILED FLAILED
A AT ACT ACTS FACTS FACETS FAUCETS
I IT HIT HITS WHITS WHITES WHITEST
A AT RAT RATE GRATE GRATES GYRATES
A AN RAN RANG RANGE RANGES ORANGES
A AS WAS WADS WADES WADERS WADDERS
A AN TAN TANG STANG STRANG STRANGE STRANGER STRANGERS ESTRANGERSI IN SIN SING STING SATING STATING ESTATING RESTATING RESTARTING
I IN PIN PING APING TAPING TAPPING TAPPINGS TRAPPINGS STRAPPINGS
The longest word chain I found was eleven words in length:
I PI PIG PING OPING COPING COMPING COMPTING COMPETING COMPLETING COMPLECTING
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