Friday 21 February 2014


lipogram FT14242 (Monk): Letters missing in this post office mail delivered around Greece (8)

A "lipogram" is a kind of constrained writing that excludes a specific letter or group of letters. The word comes from Greek: lipo (lacking) + gram (something written). A classic example is Gadsby, a 1939 novel by Ernest Vincent Wright, with over 50,000 words that do not use the letter E.

In crosswords, a lipogram is one in which the grid omits specific letter(s). A special case is the pangrammatic lipogram (or lipogrammatic pangram) – a grid that contains every letter of the alphabet except one. For example, THC11011 by Mover, with A to Y but no Z, is a pangrammatic Z-lipogram.

When uncommon letters like Q, X or Z are absent from the grid, the lipogram is probably serendipitous or an abandoned attempt at a pangram. The trick tends to catch the eye, and is likely to be deliberately done by the setter, when the excluded letter is a common one like A or E.

A more remarkable feat is to extend the lipogram to the clues in addition to the grid. An example is Afterdark's Oct 2013 puzzle THC10897, an E-lipogram that excludes the letter E entirely from the clues as well - the first recorded instance of a lipogram in The Hindu.

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Anonymous said...

That was a bit of good work from Afterdark. Kudos, TS. As another example of constricted writing, one may also look at Alphabetical Africa.

Shrikanth said...

Thanks Kishore. And Thanks Shuchi for the mention.

Anonymous said...

I once composed a puzzle without using all the letters from A through Z...

Such a puzzle is called 'Crossnumbers'!

Shuchi said...

@Shrikanth: It's a marvel that you managed without Es even in the clues. Well done!

@Kishore: Links please?
Coming to think of it, a Sudoku is also a puzzle without the letters A through Z. :-P

Anonymous said...

That was in 1982, if I remember right. I do not have a hard or soft copy, but may be I can make one more ...

Anonymous said...

Though Sudoku is popularly thought of as a number puzzle, it is not a mathematical puzzle. In reality, it is a logical puzzle. One can use A to I or even r to z and still solve it. Or even symbols for the sun and 8 planets.

Richard said...

Had not logged into the comments section until today.

Speaking of total exclusion of certain alphabetical characters, I was reminded of a game conducted at a friend's party long, long ago.

Any basics or fundamentals of any matter or subject are said to be ABC thereof.

Having been told that we were asked to provide a hundred words which did not contain either A or B or C. The time-frame was ten minutes. All of us flunked.

The answer is so simple and straight-forward. In this age, many will have known the answer.

Shuchi said...

@Richard: Those 100 words do not contain D either.

@Kishore: I tried to join the hallowed ranks of successful solvers of your Crossnumber puzzle, but no luck. You'll have to give a hint or two.

Kishore said...

A hint awaits in your mailbox

Unknown said...

Readers of this article might be interested in a puzzle I compiled for the Independent 10822 which consisted of just the 8 letters in the word SENORITA. Is that called a polylipogram?
I have done a grid fill with just the 7 letters of NASTIER, and may get around to writing some clues for it some day!
Here's the blog for the one that was published: