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?


3 Answers 3


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, 2016 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, 2016 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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