Magazine article Word Ways

Consonants in Order

Magazine article Word Ways

Consonants in Order

Article excerpt

AEIOU in Order (WW98037), UOIEA Words (WW2001313) and On Location With AEIOU (WW2002314) examined words in which the five major vowels each occur just once in alphabetical order, and reverse alphabetical order. This raises the question of words in which the consonants occur in alphabetical order or, indeed, in reverse alphabetical order.

In Language On Vacation, page 167, Dmitri Borgmann briefly mentions these words under the heading Consonantal Patterns. In each of his seven examples, which include BaCCaLauReaTe and TeTRaPLoiDiC, at least one consonant is represented more than once. He makes no mention of

such words in which all the consonants are different. So let us start by dividing the words in which the consonants occur in alphabetical order/reverse alphabetical order into three categories: those in which all the consonants are different, those in which at least one consonant is repeated, and those in which all the consonants are repeated. Within the first two categories, I searched for those words having a high consonant to vowel ratio for a particular length of word. The fractions show the consonant/vowel ratios. Selected examples with at least three different consonants are given below. Eight was the most consonants found in a single word (as distinct from a phrase). The letter Y is treated here as a consonant.

Unreferenced examples are OED, Second Edition, head words, variant forms or text words including citations. Non-OED references: bar = Bartholomew Gazetteer of Britain cham = Chambers English Dictionary csd = Chambers Scots Dictionary, 1975 Hodge = Handbook of American Indians, edited by F.W. Hodge 1907 nwd = The New Welsh Dictionary by Evans and Thomas, Christopher Davies 1970 nz = Nomenclator Zoologicus sted = Stedmans's MD w2 = Webster's Second Edition

Locations are taken from The United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN). They are populated places unless stated otherwise.

WORDS IN WHICH ALL THE CONSONANTS ARE DIFFERENT

Consonants in Alphabetical                      Consonants in Reverse
Order                                           Alphabetical Order
                              4 letters
4/0   CHMN (cham), DRWY                   4/0   XWLD, ZYTH, ZYXT
      (nwd)                   5 letters
5/0   MRTVY Luh (a marsh                  4/1   SPeND, TRiNG, WoRLD,
      in Czechoslovakia)                        WRoNG, ZYMiC
                              6 letters
5/1   BLiMPS, CHiNTZ,                     5/1   YSPeND, YToRND
      CHRiST                  7 letters
6/1   CHRiSTY, CLuMPST                    5/2   MiLK-FeD, SPaNKeD,
                                                TRiPLeD, WaRPiNG
                              8 letters
6/2   BaCKMoST,CHePSToW                   6/2   TRaNKHoF (Germany),
      (bar), eCLaMPSY                           5/3   uNMiLKeD
                              9 letters
7/2   CHaMPaRTY, CHLiSTaWY                6/3   eXTiRPiNG, WiT-SPoNGe
      (Poland)
                             10 letters
7/3   CHaMPeRTYe,                         6/4   oVeR-PoLKeD,
      CHeMoNaSTY (chain)                        TRePoNeMaL, TRoPoLoGiC
                             11 letters
7/4   CHiLoMaSTiX (w2),                   6/5   auXoTRoPHiC
      CoLuMNaRiTY            12 letters
8/4   FLaMeN-PRieST                       7/5   ViTSeRoeLHoF (farm in
                                                Belgium)
                             13 letters
6/7   aCiDaMiNuRiaS (sted)                7/6   WaiTeR uPoN GoD (OED
                                                phrase)

WORDS IN WHICH AT LEAST ONE CONSONANT IS REPEATED

Consonants in Alphabetical                      Consonants in Reverse
Order                                           Alphabetical Order

                              4 letters
4/0    PSST                               4/0   VMFF, VSSH, YSSH, YYNG
                              5 letters
4/1    BRiTT, CHeSS,                      4/1   SNuFF, SPeLL, THeDD,
       MuMPS, PuRRS                             TRuGG
                              6 letters
5/1    CHiLLS, DJiNNS,                    5/1   SPLiFF, VRNaLL, WeRRLD,
       KNaPPS                                   YSSeND, YTTRiC
                              7 letters
5/2    CaCKLeR, DeNSeST,                  5/2   PLuGGeD, VeTTiNG,
       oDDMeNT                                  ZYXoMMa (nz)
                              8 letters
6/2    BaCKLeSS, CLiPPeRS,                6/2   SPiNNiNG,SPLeKKeD,
       GLuMMeST(w2)                             TRiPPiNG, WRaPPiNG
                              9 letters
7/2    BoB-CHeRRY,                        6/3   SuSPeNDeD, TRaMMeLeD,
       CHiLLNeSS                                YaTTeRiNG
                             10 letters
7/3    BaFFLeMeNT,                        7/3   TRaMMeLLeD, TRePaNNiNG,
       CuDGeLLeRS,                              WeLL-LeGGeD
       CoMMoNNeSS            11 letters
8/3    BaiLLiLLiLLY(csd),                 7/4   ouTSPaNNiNG,
       CLaPPeRSTaY                              oVeRRuNNiNG,
                                                WaTeRLoGGeD
                             12 letters
8/4    CHiLLiNeSSeS (w2),                 8/4   TaTTeR-FuDDeD
       GaLLiNiPPeRS
                             13 letters
8/5    BiCeLLuLaRiTY(? … 
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