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How do you change the word Water to the word Steam by changing one letter at a time? The newly formed words must be from Merriam Webster dictionary. No proper nouns, abbreviations or acronyms. No rearranging of the letters either.

Note: I myself could not find an answer to this question. May be because I missed something simple or I am just not that good!! Or both. But many of you are and I am expecting that there is a 10 step or less answer.

I asked Meta for advice and @Rand Al'Thor pointed me to another similar question which essentially said you can ask a question with no answer found by yourself.

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Here's one list of 10 words

water
later
layer
sayer
shyer
sheer
steer
steed
stead
steam

Here are some definitions/examples for some of the words.

SAYER: one that says. example: he is a sayer rather than a doer.

SHYER: more shy. example: he is shyer than anyone else in his class.

SHEER: of very thin or transparent texture : fine and light in weight. example: a sheer summer dress
--OR--
SHEER: utter, absolute. example: frightened by the sheer immensity of the place.

STEER: to direct the course of. example: to steer a car (using the steering wheel).

STEED: a horse. example: "...summoning his steed ere the darkness failed..." (from LotR)

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  • $\begingroup$ Ninja'd! I like your answer better anyway. $\endgroup$ Jul 6 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ Great @SteveV. I stand by my statement. I missed "Shyer". I am just not that good!! $\endgroup$
    – DrD
    Jul 6 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ Lol ... these might be "pretty common" for native English speakers, but I never used the words "sayer" "shyer" "sheer" "steer" "steed" in my life - that's half of the ten words ^^|| Not complaining about the answer, but just expressing my feeling of cultural difference here. This kind of puzzles look hopeless for non-native English speakers like me. $\endgroup$
    – WhatsUp
    Jul 7 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ @WhatsUp sorry :( i'll put some more info $\endgroup$
    – SteveV
    Jul 7 at 2:14
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Here's one answer with 10 steps...and one word I'm not too happy with:

WATER
LATER
LAYER
PAYER
PLYER
SLYER
SLEER
STEER
STEEL
STEAL
STEAM

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Managed one with 8 steps, a questionable word (with a merriam-webster definition), and the assumption that changing a letter could also mean insertion/deletion.

WATER
WATE
SATE
STATE
STARE
STAR
STEAR
STEAM

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    $\begingroup$ Usually in [word-ladder] puzzles, if you can add/remove letters, that is explicitly stated. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jul 6 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Just checking...can you please verify STEAR is a word, vice a prefix? That would shorten both my and @SteveV's answers by a step. $\endgroup$ Jul 6 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JeremyDover, for what it's worth, I found this site claiming it as an obsolete form of "steer" $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jul 6 at 19:30

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