Login:

Password:





Not yet joined our word puzzle community? Then REGISTER NOW >>>
Who's online? | Login | Leaderboard | Anagrams

All About Word Ladder Puzzles

The word ladder puzzle comes in two main versions.

The first version of the puzzle lists clues alongside it, whilst the second version is open-ended with no clues alongside each rung of the ladder, and therefore is both more difficult to solve and may have multiple solutions.

All the puzzles on this site fall into the first category in order to ensure a single solution that can be validated on each occasion.

The rules of word ladders are as follows:

Change one letter on each rung of the ladder from the word above (or below) on the ladder. For instance FOOD to FOND is a valid move. You are not allowed to shuffle the order of any letters, and you also must not make a proper noun - only words in the dictionary with a lowercase first letter are acceptable answers in a word ladder puzzle, unless it is a puzzle with clues, in which case the answer to the clue may be a proper noun.

The word ladder puzzle as a type was invented by Lewis Carroll, famous for Alice in Wonderland, and according to wikipedia it happened on Christmas Day in 1887 - it's pretty rare that you can trace the existence of a puzzle type to a specific person, never mind a specific date!

Most word ladders in publication appear with four-letter words, although it is possible to make them with words of several different lengths. Occasionally you will see children's ladders using three-letter words, and also fairly common in publication are five-letter word ladders. Six-letter word ladders are almost never seen and are said to be less interesting to solve. Four-letter word ladders usually have four blank rungs for you to fill-in, so there is usually one step where you move to a letter that isn't in the solution word (at least at the same position), in order to then be able to make another word that does move you closer to the solution.

Sometimes the start word and end word will be related in some way (such as being opposites), whilst on other occasions two words are picked at random for these puzzles.

When it comes to solving word ladders with clues, then the process is straightforward: use the clue and the fact that you are just changing one letter at each stage to help you solve the puzzle.

When solving puzzles without clues, the process can be a lot harder. General approaches involve:

- Starting at the top of the grid and seeing how far down the ladder you can go without getting stuck;
- Starting at the bottom of the grid and working your way up and seeing if you can meet in the middle;
- Simply finding as many words as you can that are valid on one rung of the ladder relative to the word placed before/after it, and then systematically trying each in turn to see if you can complete the whole ladder.

A word ladder with a single solution from an agreed list of words is called a closed puzzle, whilst a word ladder with multiple solutions from an agreed list of words is called an open puzzle. Most valid (solvable) four-letter word ladders with four empty rungs are in the open category and have multiple solutions.

Do you like word ladder puzzles? Do you find them tricky to solve or have you found a solving method that works well for you? Please do share your thoughts below.
Date written: 16 Mar 2015



Comment on this post

You must be logged in to comment - please Register or Login

Other Blog Posts You Might Find Interesting...

Introduction To Every Letter Counts Puzzles
Every letter counts is a version of the crossword puzzle created here at Wordy Puzzle, so you won't have come across it before (unless someone else has come up with the same idea elsewhere). The aim of the every letter counts puzzle is to solve a...
Added: 22 Mar 2015


Quick Crossword Solving Tips
Solving a quick crossword is both straightforward and difficult. Difficult because, with many short clues, there are often multiple words that fit each answer until you have crossover letters in place, and straightforward in that the solving method does...
Added: 30 Mar 2015


Obscure Words In Cryptic Crosswords
As a general rule, quick crosswords tend to have words in them that are fairly common. It is rare to have a quick crossword that uses more than one word you won't have heard of, and in most cases you will know all words in this genre of crossword...
Added: 29 Mar 2015


Using Our Online Puzzle Solving Tools
We have online player tools for a large range of different word puzzles. These include arrow words, pangrams, general knowledge crosswords, quick crosswords, wordwheels, word ladders, word fit, skeleton crosswords, A - Z puzzles, codewords, cryptograms...
Added: 26 Apr 2015


New Fun Games Added Today
You told us you wanted more word games, so we listened! Today and yesterday mark the start of two new fun games in the words section - and as with all the fun games here at Wordy Puzzle, they are completely free to play for all members. The games...
Added: 29 Jul 2015




Back to Puzzle Blog


Puzzle Types:
Arrow word Puzzles
Pangram Puzzles
General Knowledge Crosswords
Quick Crosswords
Wordwheels
Word Ladders
Word Fit
Skeleton Crosswords
A to Z Puzzles
Codewords
Cryprograms Online
Every Letter Counts