Lately I’ve been intrigued by a certain word phenomenon which I posted on the WittyCulus fan page. It’s about forming a new word by dropping a letter from another word. These are some examples:

  • “A dearth of news precipitated the death of the scandal.”
  • “Don’t let your ego run your life; and ruin it!”
  • “That trill in her zither rendition is quite titillating. What a thrill to hear it!”

Notice that dropping the “r” in “dearth” gives “death”; “run” is in “ruin”; and so is “trill” from “thrill”. Witty, right? 🙂

Tip: You can now find my word-play posts in Facebook with the #PunnyEnglish hash-tag.

Posts on WittyCulus fan page (about dropping a letter to form new word)

I’m still searching for a formal word which describes this form of word-play — so far, no luck yet. While doing that this morning, I came across an interesting claim, viz:

“The English language has at least one nine-letter word that remains a valid word as each of its letters is successively removed.”

This claim has been proven true on the website under their post titled “Nine Letters Puzzle”!

And the word is… I’ve actually given you the answer earlier, if you had been paying attention to my style of writing (*wink*)…

  • SING
  • SIN
  • IN
  • I

(Note: The letter highlighted in yellow is the one being removed in each reduction step.)

Yes, the word is “startling”, as announced in the title of this post. In cheeky WittyCulus fashion, ha ha.

Of course there are other words like “stringier”, “scrapping” and “strapping”, as mentioned in that post.

Can you think of other 9-letter words which exhibit the same characteristics? I reckon we can start with the single letter “a” or “i” and build upwards. Share with me and our witty readers what you came up with by commenting below.

Happy hunting and building — letters and words, that is 🙂

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