# Holiday cookies word attrition [humans only]

I am inspired by the story of the boy who came upon an assortment of holiday cookies beautifully arranged on a platter. The boy quietly helped himself to a cookie and artistically rearranged the remaining cookies to make it appear as if none were missing. Then, he helped himself to another and rearranged again. And another. And another. Until all the cookies were gone. (And that's when his mother noticed...)

It's very simple:

• I will give you a starting word.
• You will remove a letter of your choosing, and then rearrange the remaining letters to form a new word.
• Then, remove another letter and rearrange the remaining letters to form a new word.
• Then, remove another letter and rearrange the remaining letters to form a new word.
• ...
• And so on until all the letters are gone.

For example:

Starting word is ALTERCATIONS

-------------------------------------------

Solution:

ALTERCATIONS
(remove "T" and rearrange)
LACERATIONS
(remove "C" and rearrange)
SENATORIAL
(remove "A" and rearrange)
RELATIONS
(remove "O" and rearrange)
ENTRAILS
(remove "N" and rearrange)
REALIST
(remove "L" and rearrange)
SATIRE
(remove "T" and rearrange)
RAISE
(remove "I" and rearrange)
EARS
(remove "R" and rearrange)
SEA
(remove "E" and rearrange)
AS
(remove "S" and rearrange)
A
(remove "A" and you're done)


You can do as much or as little rearrangement as you like. E.g., you are permitted to remove the "R" from BRAKE and leave BAKE, or even just snap the "-S" off the end of a word and leave all the remaining letters as they are.

As always, I construct my puzzles in such a way that they can be solved using only well-known words, so if you find yourself going down a path of increasingly obscure words, you may be overthinking it.

Multiple solution paths may exist, so don't worry if your path varies slightly from your neighbor's path, especially at the tail ends.

Below are 12 starting words. See if you can reduce each one to nothing through attrition.

1.  DISSEMINATORS

2.  ENCRUSTATIONS

3.  DECENTRALIZED

4.  IMPERSONATING

5.  SHAREHOLDINGS

6.  INVESTIGATORS

7.  INDOCTRINATED

8.  REGISTRATIONS

9.  DETERIORATING

10.  INDETERMINATE

11.  REINSTALLATION

12.  RESUSCITATIONS


Nice work, @hexomino and @Randal'Thor !

I'm giving @hexomino the answer for solving three of them, and an upvote to @Randal'Thor for solving two of them.

FYI, this puzzle may have been a little too tough to do manually, so I've opened up the remaining unsolved words to computers. See here.

Alternative solution for #4:

If you're not happy with ORATING, you might prefer this solution:

IMPERSONATING
IMPREGNATION
GERMINATION
EMIGRATION
ORIGINATE
RIGATONI
RIOTING
ORIGIN
GROIN
IRON
ION
IN
I

Alternative solution for #7:

If you're not comfortable with CITRATE, you might prefer the solution:

INDOCTRINATED
INDOCTRINATE
INTERACTION
RECITATION
INTRICATE
INTERACT
CERTAIN
RETAIN
INERT
TINE
TIE
IT
I

• So, are we allowed to use computers? JK. The tag, title, and bold-face warning gave away the answer... Mar 3, 2019 at 22:48
• Oooh, another word puzzle. How fun! Except it's like the last puzzle on steroids Mar 3, 2019 at 23:08
• Time to get the Scrabble board out, boys! Who knew Scrabble boards could have more uses than just the game ;) Mar 3, 2019 at 23:12

Partial

4.

IMPERSONATING
GERMINATIONS
GERMINATION
EMIGRATION
MIGRATION
RIGATONI
ORATING
RATING
GRAIN
RAIN
RAN
AN
A

My general tactic here was to alternate between using -ATE, -TION and -ING endings to proceed. The only tricky part was RIGATONI. Note: MIGRATION may be equally replaced by ORIGINATE.

7.

INDOCTRINATED
INDOCTRINATE
INTERACTION
RECITATION
INTRICATE
INTERACT
CITRATE
ATTIRE
TREAT
TEAR
TEA
AT
A

This one is tricky. As before I tried to use -TION and -ATE endings together with experimenting with INTER- at the beginning. The temptation was to go with ITERATION after RECITATION (or try to 2-step to CITATION) but I couldn't figure out how to proceed in either case so back-tracked to get INTRICATE instead. Had to check that CITRATE is a word, but we could also replace it with CATTIER.

9.

DETERIORATING
INTERROGATED
INTERROGATE
RETREATING
INTEGRATE
TREATING
TEARING
EATING
TINGE
TINE
TIN
IN
I

Similar tactic to 4, trying to keep -ING and -ATE(D) endings as long as possible.

1. DISSEMINATORS - S
DISSEMINATOR - O
MERIDIANS - N
SEMIARID - M
DIARIES - I
RAISED - D
RAISE - A
RISE - E
SIR - R
IS - S
I

2.

1. DECENTRALIZED - D
DECENTRALIZE - E
CENTRALIZED - D
CENTRALIZE - Z
INTERLACE - E
CLARINET - I
CENTRAL - L
CANTER - R
ENACT - T
CANE - E
CAN - C
AN - N
A

I wonder if a useful general technique might be to

try to remove uncommon letters. After SEMIARID number 1 got much easier, not just because the words were shorter but because all the letters left were common ones and it was easy to find anagrams. In number 3 the Z needed to go once I ran out of "centralize" variants, but the C remained until near the end.

Another technique, of course, is to

remove S from plural words, but after a while you run out of S's and you might not want to remove them all too soon (in number 1 the de-S-ing trick worked twice but not three times).

I tried to solve for 8. REGISTRATIONS, but have a couple of steps missing where I couldn't fit in words :( Posting since there isn't any complete solution listed.

REGISTRATIONS
REGISTRATION

ITERATIONS
STRIATION

TRANSIT
ASTIR
STIR
SIT
IT
I