Q: A "pangram" is a sentence containing all 26 letters.

What is the shortest pangram (measured by number of letters or words)? What is the shortest word list using all 26 letters in alphabetical order? In reverse alphabetical order?

A:

Each single letter is a word denoting that letter, and in addition the following single-letter words have meanings unrelated to their letter

shapes or sounds, position in the alphabet, etc.

a - indefinite article; on; in; at; to; he; him; she; her; they; them; it; I;

have; of; all

c - 100; cocaine; programming language d - 500 e - base of natural logs; eccentricity; enlarging g - acceleration of gravity; general ability; $1000; general audience i - one; unit vector in x direction; personal pronoun; in; aye j - one; unit vector in y direction k - 1000; 1024; strikeout; unit vector in z direction l - 50; ell; elevated railroad m - 1000; em; pica; an antigen of human blood n - an indefinite number; en; an antigen of human blood

  • - oh

q - quality of oscillatory circuit R - one of the three Rs; restricted audience t - t-shirt u - upper class v - five w - w particle x - unknown quantity; atmospherics; adults only y - unknown quantity; YMCA z - unknown quantity; buzzing sound; z particle

It is therefore advisable to exclude single-letter words, with the possible exception of 'a'.

As always, word acceptability varies with the dictionaries used. We use these
10C - Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, 1993 NI3 - Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary, 1961 NI2 - Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, 1935 OED - Oxford English Dictionary with Supplements, 1933 - 85 '+' indicates obsolete, dialectical, slang, or otherwise substandard word.

Some exceptional pangrams without names or abbreviations:

Using only words in 10C
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. (9 words, 35 letters) Sympathizing would fix Quaker objectives. (5 words, 36 letters) Quick fawns jumped over the big lazy ox. (8 words, 32 letters, Parade 6/30/02) Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (8 words, 32 letters) Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz. (7 words, 31 letters, Marvin Moore) Quick waxy bugs jump the frozen veldt. (7 words, 31 letters) The five boxing wizards jump quickly. (6 words, 31 letters) Victors flank gyp who mixed job quiz. (7 words, 30 letters) Judges vomit; few quiz pharynx block. (6 words, 30 letters) How quickly daft jumping zebras vex. (6 words, 30 letters) Foxy nymphs grab quick-lived waltz. (5 words, 29 letters) Dub waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex. (7 words, 28 letters, Stephen Smith) Blowzy frights vex, and jump quick. (6 words, 28 letters, magazine contest 1964) Why jab, vex quartz-damping flocks? (5 words, 28 letters, David J. Porter) Bawds jog, flick quartz, vex nymph. (6 words, 27 letters, Sir Jeremy Morse) Brick quiz whangs jumpy veldt fox. (6 words, 27 letters) Nth balks gyp, vex cwm fjord quiz. (7 words, 26 letters, Verbatim II-4) Quartz glyph job vex'd cwm finks. (6 words?, 26 letters) Cwm, fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz. (6 words, 26 letters, Dmitri Borgmann) Jumbling vext frowzy hacks PDQ. (5 words, 26 letters, Chris Cole)
Using words in 10C and NI3
Nth quark biz gyps cwm fjeld vox. (7 words, 26 letters, Verbatim II-4) Cwm kvutza qoph jynx fled brigs. (6 words, 26 letters, Greg and Peter Maggs) Pyx vang quiz: komb crwth fjelds. (6 words, 26 letters, Robert N. Test) Veldt jynx grimps waqf zho buck. (6 words, 26 letters, Michael Jones)
Using words in 10C, NI3 and NI3+
Squdgy fez, blank jimp crwth vox. (6 words, 26 letters, Claude Shannon)
Using words in 10C, NI3, NI2 and NI2+
Pyx crwth fjeld, quok, vang, zimbs. (6 words, 26 letters, Rev. S. Ream) Phlegms fyrd wuz qvint jackbox. (5 words, 26 letters, Dmitri Borgmann)
Some reasonable pangrams using proper names

Waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex Bud. (6 words + 1 name, 28 letters,

magazine contest 1964)

If Jack quiz bald nymphs grow vext. (6 words + 1 name, 28 letters,

A. Cyril Pearson, Pictured Puzzles and Word Play, George Routledge and Sons, London, 1909, p. 195)

Nth zigs block Qum dwarf jive pyx. (6 words + 1 name, 27 letters,

Verbatim II-4))

Nth black fjords vex Qum gyp wiz. (6 words + 1 name, 26 letters,

Verbatim II-4))

Some exceptional panalphabetic word lists
jackbox viewfinder phlegmy quartz (4 words, 31 letters, Mary Hazard) benzoxycamphors quick-flowing juventude (3 words, 36 letters, Darryl Francis)
Some exceptional nearly panalphabetic isogrammatic word lists
blacksmith gunpowdery (2 words, 20 letters) humpbacks frowzy tingled (3 words, 22 letters)

Some exceptional panalphabetic word lists with letters in alphabetical order:

Using only words in 10C
a BCD ef ghi jack limn op querist ulva wax oyez (11 words, 37 letters) ABC defog hijack limn op querist ulva wax oyez (9 words, 38 letters)
Using words in 10C and NI3
a BCD ef ghi jak limn op qres to uva wax oyez (12 words, 34 letters) ABC defy ghi jak limn op qres to uva wax oyez (11 words, 35 letters) ABC defy ghi jak limn opaquers turves wax oyez (9 words, 38 letters) scabicide afghani jokul manrope querist purview oxygenize (7 words, 51 letters)
Using words in 10C, NI3 and NI3+
a BCD ef ghi jak limn op QRS to uva wax yez (12 words, 32 letters) ABC defy ghi jak limn op QRS to uva wax yez (11 words, 33 letters) ab cad ef ghi jak limn op qre stun vow ox yez (12 words, 34 letters) ABC defy ghi jak limn op querist uva wax yez (10 words, 35 letters)
Using words in 10C, NI3, NI3+, NI2 and NI2+
ABC def ghi jak limn op qre struv wax yez (10 words, 32 letters) ABC def ghi jak limn opaquer struv wax yez (9 words, 34 letters)
Using words in 10C, NI3, NI3+, NI2, NI2+ and the OED
ABC defog hij klam nop QRS tu vow XYZ (9 words, 29 letters, Jeff Grant) ABC def ghi jak limn op qres tu vow XYZ (10 words, 30 letters) ABC defog hij klam nop querist uvrow XYZ (8 words, 33 letters, Jeff Grant) ABC defyghe bij sklim nop querist uvrow XYZ (8 words, 36 letters) ABC defog hijack limnophil querist uvrow XYZ (7 words, 38 letters, Jeff Grant)

Some exceptional panalphabetic word lists with letters in reverse alpha order:

Using words from 10C
lazy ox ow vug tsar quip on milk jib hag fed cab a (13 words, 38 letters) lazy ox wave uts reequip on milk jihad gifted cabal (10 words, 42 letters)
Using words from 10C and NI3
lazy ox ow vug tsar quip on milk jib hag fed caba (12 words, 38 letters) lazy ox wave uts roque pon milk jihad gifted caba (10 words, 40 letters)
Using words from 10C, NI3 and NI2
zo yex wu vug tsar quip on milk jib hag fed caba (12 words, 37 letters) zo yex wave uts roque pon milk jihad gifted caba (10 words, 39 letters)
All words are main entries in 10C except the following

10C: ghi (at 'ghee'), vext (at 'vex'), blowzy (at 'blowsy') NI3: caba, fyrd, jak, opaquers, pon, qre(s), squdgy, uva NI3+: jimp, QRS (at 'QRS complex'), sklim, vox (at 'vox populi'), yez NI2: benzoxycamphors, jackbox, limnophil, quick-flowing, yex, zo NI2+: def, juventude, klam, quar, qvint, struv, tu, wuz OED: defyghe (at 'defy'), bij (at 'buy'), hij, nop, uvrow (at 'yuffrouw'),

XYZ (at 'X')

It is fairly straightforward, if time-consuming, to search for minimal pangrams given a suitable lexicon, and the enclosed program does this. The run time is of the order of 20 MIPS-days if fed `Official Scrabble Words', a document nominally listing all sufficiently short words playable in tournament Scrabble in Britain.

I also enclose a lexicon which will reproduce the OSW results much more quickly.

The results are dominated by onomatopoeic interjections (`pst', `sh', etc.), and words borrowed from Welsh (`cwm', `crwth') and Arabic (`qat', `suq'). Other lexicons will contain a very different leavening of such words, and yield a very different set of pangrams.

Readers are invited to form sentences (or, less challenging, newspaper headlines) from these pangrams. Few are amenable to this sort of thing.

-- Steve Thomas

ankh bad bag bald balk balks band bandh bang bank bap bard barf bark bed beds beg bend benj berk berks bez bhang bid big bight bilk bink bird birds birk bisk biz blad blag bland blank bled blend blight blimp blin blind blink blintz blip blitz block blond blunk blunks bod bods bog bok boks bold bond bong bonk bonks bop bord bords bosk box brad brank bred brink brinks brod brods brog brogh broghs bud bug bugs bulk bulks bump bumps bund bunds bung bungs bunk bunks burd burds burg burgh burghs burk burks burp busk by ch crwth cwm cwms dab dag dak damp dap deb debs debt deft delf delfs delft delph delphs depth derv dervs dhak dib dig dight dink dinks dirk disk div divs dob dobs dog dop dorp dowf drab draft drib dribs drip drop drub drubs drunk drunks dub dug dugs dung dunk dunks dup dusk dwarf dzo dzos fad fag falx fank fard fax fed fend fends fenks fez fib fid fig fight fink firk fisk fix fiz fjord fjords flab flag flak flank flap flax fled fleg flex flight flimp flip flisk flix flog flogs flong flongs flop flops flub flump flumps flung flunk flux fob fobs fog fogs fold folds folk folks fond fonds fop fops ford fords fork forks fox frab frank frap fremd fright friz frog frond frump frumps fub fud fug fugs fund funds funk funks fy fyrd fyrds gab gad gamb gamp gap gawk gawp ged geld gib gid gif gild gink gip gju gjus gled glib glid glift glitz glob globs glyph glyphs gob god gold golf golfs golp golps gonk gov govs gowd gowf gowfs gowk gowks graft graph grub grypt gub gubs gulf gulfs gulp gulph gulphs gunk gup gym gymp gyp gyps hadj hank hyp hyps jab jag jak jamb jap jark jerk jerks jib jibs jig jimp jink jinks jinx jird jirds jiz job jobs jog jogs jud juds jug jugs junk junks jynx kang kant kaw keb kebs ked kef kefs keg kelp kemb kemp kep kerb kerbs kerf kerfs kex khan khud khuds kid kids kif kifs kight kild kiln kilp kind kinds king kip klepht knag knight knob knobs knub knubs kob kobs kond kop kops kraft krantz kranz kvetch ky kynd kynds lav lev lez link luz lynx mawk nabk nth pad park pawk pax ped peg pegh peghs pelf pelfs penk perk perv pervs phang phiz phlox pig pight pix pleb plebs pled plight plink plod plongd plonk pluck plug plumb plumbs plunk ply pod polk polks pong pork pox poz prex prod prof prog pst pub pud pug pugh pulk pulks punk pyx qat qats qibla qiblas quark quiz sh skelf skid skrump skug sphinx spiv squawk st sunk suq swiz sylph tank thilk tyg vamp van vang vant veg veld velds veldt vend

vends

verb verbs vet vex vibs vild vint vly vox vug vugs vuln waltz wank welkt whack zag zap zarf zax zed zek zeks zel zig zigs zimb zimbs zing zings zip zips zit zurf zurfs

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