This is a puzzle I have used with my school students, and I am wondering if it already has a name. The idea is to give a string of (often three) letters and to find a word with that string of letters in the middle. Usually I just write the string with a * before and after, saying you have to replace the *'s with any nonempty strings of letters, even not the same strings, to make a real word.

For example:
* rfl *
* atm *
* pbo *

Is there a name for this kind of puzzle?


Oh, I've played this before!  It's called "the HIPE game" after the favorite combination of its inventor, Peter Winkler, and is described in his article, "A Wordy Digression: The Game of HIPE" (PDF).  (This appears to be a chapter from his book, Mathematical Mind-Benders.)

The solution to *HIPE* appears in the linked article.

  • $\begingroup$ I think it would be good to have the author's name here in the post. $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '16 at 20:07

This is essentially the game Mischmasch, invented by Lewis Carroll. (Googling for the game Mischmasch is tricky because Carroll also produced a magazine called Mischmasch, so add words such as "word" and "game" to your search string.)

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for this, though I am going to accept the HIPE answer, because I don't want to include Carroll's scoring element. (Mind you, when I introduce it I will reference Carroll.) $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '16 at 20:08

I don't think there is a name for it.

How about

Wordpad (hmm is that trademarked?);
Rewording; or

Some answers for examples

shortest I can find:
Purfle (6) - to finish with an ornamental border.
Batman (6) - an orderly assigned to serve a British military officer (or the cartoon character of course).
Upboil (6) - (archaic) to boil up.

longest (non-chemical) I can find:
superfluorescence (17) - the collective emission of fluorescent light by an ensemble of excited atoms or ions.
subatmospheric (14) - less than atmospheric pressure.
clapboarding (12) - to cover with clapboards (wooden boards that may cover the outside of a house)


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