Combining unique letters into words

In trying to Google the answer to this thread, I came across the word “isogram” which I’d never heard before. That’s a long word with no repeating letters. Fun fact, the longest such word is subdermatoglyphic at 17 letters.

What I wanted to know is how many letters can you combine to create any number of words with no repeats.
For instance:

6 words, 22 unique letters, leaving out P, W, Q, and Z

I’ve played around with it a bit and can’t get better than 22. The big wall is the number of vowels there are. I would assume the best strategy is to get 6 words, each with one vowel, but I’ve not really looked into combining two vowels into an extra long word.

Can anyone get better than 22? Is it even possible to use all 26?

There are five 5-letter words (no proper names, acronyms, etc.) with 25 distinct letters. (This arises in connection with word games like Jotto). This is achievable only with an unabridged dictionary.

Provided you don’t use the letters in another word, don’t forget that favorite of Scrabble-lovers everywhere, cwm.

Using cwm we have 26/26 and only cwm should bring a reaction of what???


Dmitri A. Borgmann’s wonderful Language on Vacation yields Old Guy’s list, along with:

J. Q. Schwartz flung V. D. Pike my box.
Zing! Vext cwm fly jabs Kurd qoph.
Fjord-buck zags whelm qvint pyx.
Junky qoph-flags vext crwd zimb.
Milk-vat fez bugs qoph-crwd jynx.

Old Guy’s list is much better.

Can we use crwth, the archaic Welsh stringed instrument? (Is that even an English word?)

Interesting. Yes, I suppose I’d count it, since scrabble does.
I wonder if Words withFriends does as well.

I don’t think I’d count the Welsh stringed instrument though.

cwm and fjord are both great English words, however, they are very recently “borrowed” or “influenced” or whatever you want to call it from other living languages. So I can understand why someone would raise their eyebrows at them.

I love the list though! That’s awesome.

I think “fjord” is well established --I mean, it dates back to the mid 1600s in English and I think the average person on the street has heard of a “fjord.” (“Quiz,” for instance, is a far more recent addition to English.) “Cwm” is a little different. While it dates from the mid-1800s, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “cwm” used outside of trivia and Scrabble or similar word games. Even my spellcheck underlines it, but not “fjord.”

One place to start is to acquire a really good word list. A simple flat ascii text file consisting of every doggone word you can possibly want to recognize as valid. Once you have that – your final arbiter of what is and what is not a word – you can have all sorts of fun.

From there, you can write simple programs to search for words that follow patterns. Like consonant1-vowel1-consonant2-vowel1-consonant1. RADAR, LEVEL, etc. That’s a really simple program to write: construct every possible word of that format, and check each one against your word list.

From there, you can do all sorts of neat stuff. I’ve messed around with “Bible Code” searches. (Alas, my real name does not appear in the Bible, no matter what kind of letter-spacing I use.) You can do fun “letter rotation” games. (Like IBM + one letter = HAL. Did Arthur C. Clarke intend this, or is it a lovely coincidence?)

In my opinion, a word-list is the basis for all further exploration.