State Letter Banks: The Long and Short of It

By Francis, Darryl | Word Ways, May 2004 | Go to article overview

State Letter Banks: The Long and Short of It


Francis, Darryl, Word Ways


Take each of the 50 US state names in turn. For each state name, reduce the name to the list of different letters occurring in the state name, ignoring repeated occurrences of letters (for example, Alabama to ABLM). For each such sequence, what is the longest and the shortest word that can be made from all of the different letters, allowing repeated use of any letter? (In the National Puzzlers' League, collections of such words, not merely the longest and shortest possible, are known as a Letter Bank.)

In some cases, the shortest word possible appears to be the state name itself--obviously for a state such as Iowa or Utah with no repeated letters. Similarly, the longest word possible may be the state name, especially when it is a long name with many repeated letters, such as Mississippi. For a handful of states, both the longest and shortest words are the state name, such as Kentucky or Wyoming. Where possible I have replaced the state name with a transposition.

Most of the words are from Webster's Second or Third editions, although a smattering of words from other sources have been included (and references provided at the end of the article).

lamb              Alabama         ambalam
lask              Alaska          Kalkaska
Azorin            Arizona         Arizonian
ranks             Arkansas        Arkansans
florican          California      craniofacial
cardol            Colorado        local road
counite           Connecticut     uncontinence
wardle            Delaware        well-rewarded
forlaid           Florida         Firoloida
og aire           Georgia         Gregoria
hawi              Hawaii          Wahiawa
Idaho             Idaho           Hodaiah
lions             Illinois        nonillions
naid              Indiana         Indianian
Iowa              Iowa            Iowa
sank              Kansas          kanakas
Kentucky          Kentucky        Kentucky
allusion          Louisiana       nonillusional
amine             Maine           manienie
land-army         Maryland        Maryland Day
mustache          Massachusetts   Mattachussetts
chingma           Michigan        chimichanga
somniate          Minnesota       testamentations
imps              Mississippi     Mississippis
rimous            Missouri        missouriums
manto             Montana         montanto
bankers           Nebraska        snake bearers
vaned             Nevada          Vendean
New Hampshire     New Hampshire   New Hampshireman
New Jersey        New Jersey      Jenny-wrens
New Mexico        New Mexico      New Mexico
ywroken           New York        New Yorker
antichlor         New Carolina    choriallantoic
North Dakota      North Dakota    North Dakotan
hoi               Ohio            hooi
holm-oak          Oklahoma        koloa moha
goner             Oregon          nongreen
paynesville       Penssylvania    Pennsylvanians
drain-holes       Rhode Island    snail-horned
unhistorical      South Carolina  unanachronistical
South Dakota      South Dakota    South Dakota
sent              Tennessee       tensenesses
taxes             Texas           estate taxes
haut              Utah            tuath
Vermont           Vermont         removement
raving            Virginia        viraginian
nowanights        Washington      Washingtoniana
West Virginia     West Virginia   Weavering Street
Wisconsin         Wisconsin       Wiconisco
Wyoming           Wyoming         Wyoming

Oxford English Dictionary drain-holes (saucer, 1856q), hawl (haw), holm-oak, land-army (army, see definition), missouriums (mastodon, 1847q), ywroken

Random House Dictionary Azorin, nonillusional, unanachronistical, Wahiawa

Bartholomew Gazetteer of the British Isles Weavering Street (a hamlet in Kent, England)

English Dialect Dictionary hooi (of the wind, to whistle)

Hodge, Handbook of Indians North of Mexico Mattachussetts (early spelling)

Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary Jenny-wrens (plural of Jenny-wren, the herb Robert--not a wren! …

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State Letter Banks: The Long and Short of It
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