What's That Flat?


A word or phrase becomes another when an interior letter is removed.

simile simile smile

DELETION (*7, 4-2)

We found a TWO for shelter from the sun-
So unrelenting was the summer heat-
And looked out at the sparkling Gulf of ONE,
Where long ago the Turks had met defeat.


Lepanto Lepanto lean-to

A deletion may include more than two words.

startling startling
starling starling
staring staring
string string
sting sting sing

(Do you want to go on to THREE = sin and TWO = in? In NPL terms, those are not deletions but one curtailment and one beheadment. You could still use all eight words in one puzzle, but you’d have to warn the solver that two-unspecified-steps were a curtailment and beheadment, not deletions.)

Baltimore deletion

Each letter in turn is removed to form a new word.

peat peat eat
peat peat pat
peat peat pet
peat peat pea

Bigram deletion

A word or phrase becomes another when two consecutive interior letters are removed.

catenary catenary canary

Repeated-letter deletion

A word or phrase becomes another when one letter is removed wherever it occurs.

bassist bassist bait
prospered prospered rose-red

Reversed deletion

After you’ve deleted a letter from the first word, you reverse it to get the second.

espalier espalier espaler relapse

Phonetic deletion

A word or phrase becomes another when an interior sound is removed.

revelry revelry reveille

For discussion of what constitutes a single sound, see phonetic flats.

More Examples

All sorts of combinations of these elements are possible.

Repeated-bigram deletion

derrières derières dries

Repeated-trigram deletion

card-carrying card-carrying drying

Repeated-tetragram deletion

George Orwell George Orwell Well