Word Ladder Puzzles

This page is an outgrowth of an engaging chapter in Ian Stewart's Nature's Numbers. Here I collect several of the original Lewis Carroll's puzzles (with solutions kindly provided by Judd A. Schorr) and then some more that were contributed by the site visitors.

Each puzzle consists of two words and the task is to form a sequence of words (a word ladder) starting with one of the given words and ending with the other such that any two neighboring words differ from one another in exactly one place.

  1. Drive PIG into STY. (Solution)
  2. Raise FOUR to FIVE. (Solution)
  3. Make WHEAT into BREAD. (Solution)
  4. Dip PEN into INK. (Solution)
  5. Touch CHIN with NOSE. (Solution)
  6. Change TEARS into SMILE. (Solution)
  7. Change WET to DRY. (Solution)
  8. Make HARE into SOUP. (Solution)
  9. PITCH TENTS. (Solution)
  10. Cover EYE with LID. (Solution)
  11. Prove PITY to be GOOD. (Solution)
  12. STEAL COINS. (Solution)
  13. Make EEL into PIE. (Solution)
  14. Turn POOR into RICH. (Solution)
  15. Prove RAVEN to be MISER. (Solution)
  16. Change OAT to RYE. (Solution)
  17. Get WOOD from TREE. (Solution)
  18. Prove GRASS to be GREEN. (Solution)
  19. Evolve MAN from APE. (Solution)
  20. Change CAIN into ABEL. (Solution)
  21. Make FLOUR into BREAD. (Solution)
  22. Make TEA HOT. (Solution)
  23. Run COMB into HAIR. (Solution)
  24. Prove a ROGUE to be a BEAST. (Solution)
  25. Change ELM into OAK. (Solution)
  26. Combine ARMY and NAVY. (Solution)
  27. Place BEARS on SHELF. (Solution)
  28. HOOK FISH. (Solution)
  29. QUELL a BRAVO. (Solution)
  30. Stow FURIES in BARREL. (Solution)
  31. BUY an ASS. (Solution)
  32. Get COAL from MINE. (Solution)
  33. Pay COSTS in PENCE. (Solution)
  34. Raise ONE to TWO. (Solution)
  35. Change BLUE to PINK. (Solution)
  36. Change BLACK to WHITE. (Solution)
  37. Change FISH to BIRD. (Solution)
  38. Sell SHOES for CRUST. (Solution)
  39. Make KETTLE HOLDER. (Solution)
  40. Change WINTER to SUMMER. (Solution)
  41. Put ROUGE on CHEEK. (Solution)

A few word ladders have been suggested by visitors to the site:

By James Mathews:

  1. Find FISH to REEL. (Solution)
  2. Get GOAT onto RAFT. (Solution)

By Priest:

  1. CROSS the RIVER. (Solution)
  2. JUMP off the BOAT. (Solution)
  3. MUNCH the GRASS. (Solution)
  4. SWIM back HOME. (Solution)

By Megan Brown:

  1. Prove PITY to be GOOD. (Solution)

By yours truly:

  1. I LIKE MATH. (Solution)
  2. GIRL likes to CHAT. (Solution)
  3. GOD chose JEW. (Solution)
  4. MOM loves DAD. (Solution)
  5. FALL brings COLD. (Solution)

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Copyright © 1996-2018 Alexander Bogomolny

FISH
FIST
FAST
VAST
VASE
VALE
VILE
FILE
FILL
FELL
FEEL
REEL

GOAT
GOAD
GOLD
GILD
GILT
GIFT
RIFT
RAFT

CROSS
CRASS
BRASS
BRATS
BEATS
BEANS
BEADS
BENDS
BONDS
BONES
CONES
COVES
COVER
ROVER
RIVER

JUMP
LUMP
LIMP
LIME
LINE
LONE
BONE
BOND
BOLD
TOLD
TOAD
ROAD
ROAR
BOAR
BOAT

MUNCH
BUNCH
BENCH
BEACH
PEACH
PEACE
PLACE
PLANE
PLANS
CLANS
CLASS
GLASS
GRASS

SWIM
SLIM
SLID
SAID
SAIL
SOIL
BOIL
BOLL
BOLD
HOLD
HOLE
HOME

PITY
CITY
CITE
MITE
MILE
MILD
MOLD
GOLD
GOOD

GIRL
GIRT
GIST
MIST
MOST
MOAT
COAT
CHAT

GOD
GOT
GET
JET
JEW

LIKE
LAKE
LATE
MATE
MATH

MOM
MUM
MUD
MAD
DAD

FALL
TALL
TOLL
TOLD
COLD

sty
say
bay
bag
big
pig

five
fire
firm
form
foam
foal
foul
four

bread
break
bleak
bleat
cleat
cheat
wheat

ink
ino
dno
duo
dun
den
pen

nose
jose
joie
join
coin
chin

smile
smite
skite
skate
slate
blate
blats
beats
bears
tears

dry
day
bay
bat
bet
wet

soup
soul
saul
haul
harl
hare

no solution

lid
lie
lye
eye

no solution

coins
chins
chink
clink
slink
slick
snick
sneck
sneak
steak
steal

pie
pig
big
beg
bel
eel

rich
rick
rock
sock
souk
sour
pour
poor

miser
maser
mayer
mayen
maven
raven

rye
rae
rat
oat

(no solution)

(no solution)

ape
aue
due
dun
dan
man

abel
abed
aced
acid
arid
grid
grin
gain
cain

bread
break
bleak
bleat
bloat
float
flout
flour

hot
hoa
koa
kea
tea

hair
lair
laie
lame
came
come
comb

beast
boast
roast
roust
rouse
bouse
boule
bogle
bogie
vogie
vogue
rogue

oak
oar
far
fay
fly
ely
elm

navy
nary
mary
miry
airy
airs
aims
arms
army

shelf
sheaf
shear
spear
speak
speck
spack
slack
black
blank
brank
brans
beans
bears

fish
dish
disk
dick
dock
hock
hook

bravo
brave
grave
grade
glade
glide
guide
guile
guilt
quilt
quirt
quart
quarl
querl
quell

(no solution)

(no solution)

mine
mint
mont
moat
coat
coal

(no solution)

two
iwo
ino
ine
one

pink
pins
pius
plus
flus
flue
blue

white
whine
chine
chink
clink
blink
blank
black

bird
bind
binh
dinh
dish
fish

crust
crest
brest
blest
blent
blunt
bluet
blues
flues
flies
flier
slier
shier
shied
shoed
shoes

(Lewis Carroll supplied no solution to this puzzle. The one below was sent to me by Brice on August 6, 2007.)

kettle
settle
settee
setter
better
batter
fatter
falter
filter
filler
miller
milder
molder
holder

Both solutions come from M. Gardner's New Mathematical Diversions

winter
winder
wander
warder
harder
harmer
hammer
hummer
summer

And also

winter
linter
lister
lisper
limper
simper (or limmer)
simmer
summer

Both solutions come from M. Gardner's New Mathematical Diversions

rouge
route
routs
roots
boots
blots
blocs
block
clock
chock
check
cheek

And also

rouge
route
routs
roots
coots
coons
coins
chins
chink
chick
check
cheek

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