A word or phrase becomes another when an interior letter is removed. Example: ONE = simile, TWO = smile.
The solution: ONE = Lepanto, TWO = lean-to.
A deletion may include more than two words. A famous old example: NINE = startling, EIGHT = starling, SEVEN = staring, SIX = string, FIVE = sting, FOUR = 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.)
In the rarely seen Baltimore deletion, each letter in turn is removed to form a new word. For example, TOTAL = peat, ONE = eat, TWO = pat, THREE = pet, FOUR = pea.
In a bigram deletion, a word or phrase becomes another when two consecutive interior letters are removed. For example, ONE = catenary, TWO = canary. (This would appear on the solutions page as “ca(te)nary.”)
In a repeated-letter deletion, a word or phrase becomes another when one letter is removed wherever it occurs. For example, ONE = bassist, TWO = bait; or ONE = prospered, TWO = rose-red. (The solutions would appear as “ba(ss)i(s)t” and “(p)ros(p)ered.”)
In a reversed deletion, after you’ve deleted a letter from the first word, you reverse it to get the second. Example: ONE = espalier, TWO = relapse. (This would appear as “espal(i)er.”)
All sorts of combinations of these elements are possible. An example of a repeated-bigram deletion: ONE = derrières, TWO = dries. This would appear as “d(er)ri(èr)es.” A repeated-trigram deletion: ONE = card-carrying, TWO = drying. This would appear as “(car)d-(car)rying.” A repeated-tetragram deletion: ONE = George Orwell, TWO = well. This would appear as “(Geor)(ge Or)well.”
In a phonetic deletion, a word or phrase becomes another when an interior sound is removed. For example: ONE = revelry, TWO = reveille. For discussion of what constitutes a single sound, see phonetic flats.
A word or phrase becomes another when its first letter is removed. Example: ONE = factor, TWO = actor. If the parts of the solution are all single words, the length of only the longest is given; if any part is a phrase, all parts are enumerated.
The solution: WHOLE = usable, SHORTER = sable.
Beheadments occasionally include more than two words. A famous example is ONE = aspirate, TWO = spirate, THREE = pirate, FOUR = irate, FIVE = rate, SIX = ate.
In a bigram beheadment, a word or phrase becomes another when its first two letters are removed: ONE = delivery, TWO = livery.
In a phonetic beheadment, a word or phrase becomes another when its first sound is removed. All parts are enumerated. For example: ONE = basalt, TWO = assault. For discussion of what constitutes a single sound, see phonetic flats.
Reversed beheadment: after beheading the first word, reverse it to get the second. Example: ONE = petal, TWO = late.
A word or phrase becomes another when its last letter is removed. Example: ONE = stingy, TWO = sting.
The solution: LONGER = aspiring, FINAL = aspirin.
A curtailment may consist of more than two words, though these are rare. An obscure but dazzling example: ONE = chorizont (one who ascribes the Iliad and the Odyssey to different authors-look it up in NI2 if you don’t believe it!), TWO = C-horizon (a particular layer of soil), THREE = chorizo (a kind of spicy sausage).
In a bigram curtailment, a word or phrase becomes another when its last two letters are removed. For example, ONE = satiety, TWO = Satie.
In a phonetic curtailment, a word or phrase becomes another when its last sound is removed. For example: ONE = qt (as in “on the qt”), TWO = cute, THREE = queue. For discussion of what constitutes a single sound, see phonetic flats.
In a reversed curtailment, after curtailing the first word, you reverse it to get the second. Example: ONE = stinky, TWO = knits.
A word or phrase is changed to another by removing its first and last letters. Example: ONE = foregone, TWO = Oregon; or LONG = self-worth, SHORT = elfwort (a plant). If both parts are single words, only the longest is enumerated; otherwise, both parts are enumerated.
The solution: FATTER = touché, THINNER = ouch.
Progressive terminal deletions contain more than two words or phrases; they are rare. A simple example: ONE = lament, TWO = amen, THREE = me.
In a phonetic terminal deletion, a word or phrase is changed to another by removing its first and last sounds. For example: ONE = kwacha (a Zambian coin), TWO = watch. Only the enumeration of the first part (ONE) is given.
In a reversed terminal deletion, a word or phrase is changed to another by removing its first and last letters and reversing the result. For example: ONE = rebirth, TWO = tribe.
A word or phrase is deleted from a longer one, leaving a third. For example, TOTAL = performance, ONE = man, TWO = perforce. Only the length of the longest word or phrase is given.
The solution: ALL = subtrahend, IN = rah, OUT = subtend.
If the cuewords are ONE and TWO, the inside word is ONE and the outside word is TWO. The same is true for other cueword pairs that have a natural order: FIRST goes inside SECOND. Avoid using a pair of cuewords (like HERE and THERE) that doesn’t imply an order. Other common cuewords for word deletions are IN and OUT, INNER and OUTER, and WITHIN and WITHOUT. Cuewords like these are especially kind to the solver, since they clearly show which is the inside word.
In the two-word deletion, two consecutive words or phrases are deleted from a third to leave a fourth. Example: WHOLE = organgrinder, ONE = gang, TWO = rin (a Japanese coin), THREE = order.
Three-word deletions and more are possible.
In the progressive word-deletion, three or more words are nested to form a longer one. ONE is always innermost. Example: WHOLE = consecratory, ONE = Ra, TWO = sector, THREE = cony. The progressive word-deletion was invented by Tut and introduced in January 1973.
This flat type is always done as a transdeletion. But see also the group flats heading.
A word or phrase becomes another when one letter is deleted and the others are transposed. A transdeletion must have at least four parts, each part one letter shorter than the one before. The cuewords are the lengths of the parts. For example: NINE = righteous, EIGHT = roughest, SEVEN = troughs, SIX = sought, FIVE = ghost, FOUR = shot.
The solution: EIGHT = carfares, SEVEN = carafes, SIX = fracas, FIVE = scarf.
In the Baltimore transdeletion, a word or entry phrase is turned into a series of others by removing each letter in turn and rearranging the rest; the first letter is removed to form ONE, the second letter is removed to form TWO, and so on. For example: TOTAL = baker, ONE = rake, TWO = kerb, THREE = bare, FOUR = bark, FIVE = beak.
The solution: WHOLE = store, ONE = rote, TWO = rose, THREE = rest, FOUR = toes, FIVE = sort.
The letters should actually be shuffled each time. Avoid simple deletions; note them with the puzzle if they do appear.
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Last modified Thursday, June 18, 2015