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Can you turn the word LEAD into GOLD in five steps or less? You can change or replace one letter at a time only. The newly formed word must be a legit word in a recognized dictionary. Of course you cannot add or subtract letters, so all new words must have 4 letters. I am sure there are several solutions here.

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Three steps/Four words:

LEAD -> LOAD -> GOAD -> GOLD

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    $\begingroup$ WOW great. Didnt know GOAD as a word. $\endgroup$ – DEEM Mar 18 '17 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ I only remembered it because of a word play ladder I created a little bit ago haha $\endgroup$ – n_plum Mar 18 '17 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ This is actually the optimal solution: it's impossible to do better. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Mar 18 '17 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ I verified that this is the unique optimal solution - there's nothing else with three steps (in my word list) $\endgroup$ – isaacg Mar 20 '17 at 6:43
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  • Five steps:

    LEAD $\rightarrow$ LEND $\rightarrow$ FEND $\rightarrow$ FOND $\rightarrow$ FOLD $\rightarrow$ GOLD

  • Four steps:

    LEAD $\rightarrow$ READ $\rightarrow$ ROAD $\rightarrow$ GOAD $\rightarrow$ GOLD

  • @n_palum's solution in three steps:

    LEAD $\rightarrow$ LOAD $\rightarrow$ GOAD $\rightarrow$ GOLD

    This is optimal because

    three letters are different between LEAD and GOLD, and we can only change one letter at a time, so we need at least three steps.

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    $\begingroup$ Damn, I had that exact three steps solution in less than one minute from reading the question, but I'm 21 to 22 hours late >_> $\endgroup$ – Zachiel Mar 19 '17 at 13:28
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Here's one in four steps:

LEAD
MEAD
MELD
MOLD
GOLD

Here's another one in four:

LEAD
HEAD
HELD
HOLD
GOLD

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