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I have found a few 11-letter words that use every key except 0 or 1 on a standard telephone (like EXPLORATION), but I haven't found any shorter such words. What is the shortest word we can make that uses all letter keys on a telephone?

As for hitting all but one key, EXPLOIT does the job with the minimum possible 7 letters.

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    $\begingroup$ Some phones put the Q and Z together on the 0 rather than having 4 letters on two of the keys. Might be worth a follow-up question looking for a 9-letter word with that key arrangement. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 15:07

5 Answers 5

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The shortest possible is obviously 8 letters, using each of the number keys 2-9 exactly once. The online word search tool Qat finds 3 such words:

ENTHALPY, UNEASILY, UNFAIRLY

Picking a different dictionary gives even more results, although many of them are either two-word phrases (e.g. BOX KITES, WILD OATS) or words I have never seen before (e.g. BLINTZES, EPICOTYL).

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    $\begingroup$ You've never eaten blintzes? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ @AkivaWeinberger I don't think so. Never even heard of them before today. $\endgroup$
    – Jafe
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 4:30
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    $\begingroup$ Go find yourself a place that sells them (or find a recipe) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ Across all the dictionaries offered by Qat, I found 151 words. My favorite is "playtime". Complete list here. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Akiva Weinberger Came for entertainment, left with extra weight $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 11:42
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keypunch

I used https://chat.openai.com/ and used this prompt: "8 letter English word that uses all letter keys on a telephone?". It gave me the answer "keypunch".

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    $\begingroup$ @mathlander Yeah, sorry. I was just excited that it even worked. $\endgroup$
    – NoahGav
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for honesty and full disclosure. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 6:11
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    $\begingroup$ @NoahGav this is fine. It's using ChatGPT as a tool, and not trying to ask ChatGPT to write the answer for you. You just used it to find a word, then you report the word here. That's perfectly fine. What's not allowed is to simply copy paste ChatGPT output into here. $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ It's on theme as well! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ It must have been a fluke of luck, because I asked the exact same question, and it repeated a letter. I pointed it out, it apologized and acknowledged that it really repeated it, and came up with another word instead... with the same mistake. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 14:10
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I've found some more words in the corncob wordlist:

  • unfairly

  • knitwear

  • playtime

  • uneasily

  • dilatory - slow to act.

  • enthalpy - a thermodynamic quantity equivalent to the total heat content of a system. It is equal to the internal energy of the system plus the product of pressure and volume.

  • adroitly - in a clever or skilful way.

  • idolatry - the worship of idols.

  • gunwales - the upper edge or planking of the side of a boat or ship. (not sure if plurals count)

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    $\begingroup$ Notably, three of these are anagrams of each other! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 3:41
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    $\begingroup$ Dilatory, adroitly, idolatry $\endgroup$
    – mathlander
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 5:18
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I found 10 more words that are interesting and a bit more common:

  • waterlog
  • exitplan
  • tensibly
  • blowiest
  • unflashy
  • fistblow
  • gunlayer
  • planview
  • rockview
  • royalite
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    $\begingroup$ What was your source for these? Five of these are two-word sequences. $\endgroup$
    – Rosie F
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 8:58
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting. Useful to note which dictionary(/ies)/wordlist(s) you used, and which authoritative source says that 'exit plan', 'fist blow', 'plan view', 'rock view' are a single word; the OP asked for single words. $\endgroup$
    – smci
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 19:01
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I ran grep on a large dictionary, I don't remember where I downloaded it from.

grep '^........$' words_alpha | grep '[abc]' | grep '[def]' | grep '[ghi]' | grep '[jkl]' | grep '[mno]' | grep '[pqrs]' | grep '[tuv]' | grep '[wxyz]'

Not being a native english speaker I have trouble validating the results. I found the words below that are accepted by Chrome's spellcheck:

adroitly blintzes blowiest cryolite dilatory enthalpy epicotyl foxtails gunwales haylofts idolatry interlay keypunch knitwear legatory ovalwise playtime sodality steamily tankwise triazole uneasily unfairly valorize waterlog wrentail

And these that are not (maybe neologisms, slang or non-US spellings):

anesthyl bungerly clientry dicotyls dovyalis filatory galewort geolatry gunlayer hectorly jarovize kyanites lauwines lipocyte lyterian lopheavy neuralgy ozarkite penality pentylic plowgate scolytid taleysim tensibly twangler twangles twankies unbirdly unclergy unflashy unsagely whetrock

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  • $\begingroup$ I can't help but think that anyone who uses the work "neologism" correctly is a native english speaker. $\endgroup$
    – mathlander
    Commented Dec 29, 2022 at 5:24
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    $\begingroup$ The similarities in vocabulary between languages is higher among the complicated words than among the simple ones. Neologism In French it is "néologisme". $\endgroup$
    – Florian F
    Commented Dec 29, 2022 at 9:07

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