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.

Three steps/Four words:

• WOW great. Didnt know GOAD as a word.
– DrD
Mar 18, 2017 at 16:04
• I only remembered it because of a word play ladder I created a little bit ago haha Mar 18, 2017 at 16:04
• This is actually the optimal solution: it's impossible to do better. Mar 18, 2017 at 16:08
• I verified that this is the unique optimal solution - there's nothing else with three steps (in my word list) Mar 20, 2017 at 6:43
• 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.

• 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 >_> Mar 19, 2017 at 13:28

Here's one in four steps: