24
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Quietly walking among us are words which are actually superheroes in disguise! Just as Diana Prince spins around to become Wonder Woman, some seemingly ordinary words can spin around to reveal their super identities!

For example, STRESSED turns into DESSERTS just when you need it, and REVILED can turn around to DELIVER.

Meanwhile...
Poor little THINK is sitting all alone, thinking about how he could become the KNIGHT, if only he had a spare "G" ...

Just a mere mortal word without powers of transformation? Well, never fear! There is no shame in using an accessory (or ten) to enable your superpowers! (Respect, Batman, Green Lantern, and Iron Man!)

So now STINGIER can become the fiery REIGNITES(1), EMERGED can become the brilliant doctor DEGREE(2), and SALAMI can become fleet-footed IMPALAS(3)!
(1) with addition of an "E", sold separately
(2) after subtraction of an "M", not responsible for lost or missing pieces
(3) with addition of a "P", not included

But wait, there's more! With a well-stocked utility belt, some words can take on multiple transformations!

For example, DUAL becomes DUEL through the following transformation sequence:

 DUAL
.   .
 . .
  .         ---U-->
 . .
.   .
 LAD
.   .
 . .
  .         <--E---
 . .
.   .
 DEAL
.   .
 . .
  .         ---A-->
 . .
.   .
 LED
.   .
 . .
  .         <--U---
 . .
.   .
 DUEL


Now let's see if you can help other superhero words find their own transformation sequence!

At each step, you may add or subtract a letter as you choose. You don't need to alternate additions and subtractions.

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 conjuring up increasingly obscure words, you may be overthinking it.

The first three are just to get you warmed up, while 4-8 are serious:

1.  start:  SCAM
    end:    MAGES
    (suggested 2 intermediate words)


2.  start:  TROOPER
    end:    TROOPED
    (suggested 3 intermediate words)


3.  start:  XENON
    end:    WOK
    (suggested 5 intermediate words)


4.  start:  SLEEPY
    end:    SLEEPER
    (suggested 16 intermediate words)


5.  start:  SEAPORT
    end:    SPIRITS
    (suggested 17 intermediate words)


6.  start:  KNIGHT
    end:    TIME
    (suggested 23 intermediate words)


7.  start:  GURU
    end:    SERIES
    (suggested 27 intermediate words)


8.  start:  BLOG
    end:    ABOUT
    (suggested 36 intermediate words)


Super helpful hints or diabolical distractions?
guar vs. gaur
taro vs. tarot



Epilogue:

Wow, we really got a refresher on some vocabulary-building words! GARS, DIT, DEMIT, SOU, SOT, SI, STIM, STOB, NOB, TA, TAT...

1-3 were nicely handled by @Mohirl

Note on 4:

The solution provided by @PiIsNot3 is well done. If you feel that LEE is no longer as well known as it once was, take a look at the solution provided by @arbitrahj which detours around it using

SEE --> EVES --> SEVER --> REVELS --> LEVER --> REEL


Alternative solution to 5:

SEAPORT --> TROPES --> SPORT --> TOPS --> POT --> TO --> OAT --> TARO --> RAT --> TARS --> SAT --> TEAS --> SET --> TIES --> SIT --> TIPS --> SPITS --> STRIPS --> SPIRITS


Alternative solution to 6:

KNIGHT --> THINK --> KNIT --> STINK --> NITS --> SIN --> IS --> SIT --> TIES --> SET --> TEAS --> SAT --> TARS --> RAT --> TARO --> OAT --> TO --> LOT --> TOIL --> LIT --> TILE --> RELIT --> TIER --> REMIT --> TIME


Note on 7:

The solution provided by @PiIsNot3 uses GARS. Here is an alternative to the segment from RAG to PAR:

RAG --> GARB --> BAG --> GRAB --> BAR --> CRAB --> ARC --> CRAP --> PAR


Alternative solution to 8:

BLOG --> GOB --> BOGS --> SOB --> BOBS --> BOB --> BOMB --> MOB --> BOOM --> MOO --> DOOM --> MOD --> DORM --> ROD --> DOER --> RED --> DEAR --> RAD --> DART --> TAD --> AT --> A --> AD --> DAB --> BAUD --> DUB --> BUDS --> SUB --> US --> SUN --> NUBS --> BUN --> SNUB --> BUS --> STUB --> BUT --> TUBA --> ABOUT

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ With the suggested number of intermediate steps, do you really mean the number of intermediate words? I think of a step as the process of going from one word to the next, in which case there would be one more intermediate steps than intermediate words. $\endgroup$ – Jaap Scherphuis Mar 25 at 15:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JaapScherphuis — Ah, good call! I changed it to clarify that I meant intermediate words, not counting the start and end word. It's the old, tricky question of how many treads versus how many risers in a staircase. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Mar 25 at 15:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ haha! I love all of your word puzzles! I think they're really witty. $\endgroup$ – North Mar 25 at 23:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Now i've learned to use DEMIT instead of DAMMIT ;) XD Nice puzzle, btw, take my upvote! (upvoted alr) $\endgroup$ – Omega Krypton Mar 27 at 14:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SlowMagic thanks for the tick mark! This was a really fun challenge :) $\endgroup$ – HTM Mar 27 at 18:26
11
$\begingroup$

Partial

SLEEPY -> SLEEPER (14 words):

(Based off of arbitrahj’s answer)
SLEEPY
PEELS
SEEP
PEE
WEEP
PEW
WE
EWE
EWES
SEE
EELS
LEE
REEL
LEPER
REPELS
SLEEPER

SEAPORT -> SPIRITS (11 words):

SEAPORT
TROPES
SPORT
TOPS
SOT (not sure if this is considered a “common” word or not)
TOES
SET
TIES
SIT
TIPS
SPITS
STRIPS
SPIRITS

KNIGHT -> TIME (11 words):

KNIGHT
THINK
KNIT
TIN
IT
TIP
PI
DIP
ID
DIT
TIED
DEMIT
TIME

GURU -> SERIES (25 words)

GURU
RUG
GUAR
RAG
GARS
SAG
GAPS
SPA
RAPS
PAR
RAPT
TAR
AT
TAD
DART
RAD
DEAR
RED
DEER
REEDS
SEER
FREES
SERF
FIRES
SERIFS
SIRES
SERIES

BLOG -> ABOUT (20 words):

BLOG
GOB (?)
BONG
NOB (?)
BORN
ROB
OR
ROD
DO
SOD
DUOS
SOU (?)
US
SUN
NUBS
BUN
SNUB
BUS
STUB
BUT
TUBA
ABOUT

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yep, the SEAPORT one looks fine to me. Nice one! $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Mar 25 at 17:52
9
$\begingroup$

Well, I'll start by taking the two easy ones:

SCAM -> MAGES:

SCAM -> MACES -> SEAM -> MAGES

TROOPER -> TROOPED

TROOPER -> REPORT -> TROPE -> DEPORT -> TROOPED

XENON -> WOK

XENON -> NONE -> EON -> NO -> WON -> KNOW -> WOK

SEAPORT -> SPIRITS (25, sure I've gone the long way around) (23 now, 2 thanks to @Jaap Scherphuis )

SEAPORT -> TROPES -> SPORT -> TOPS -> POT -> TO -> OAT -> TA -> TAT -> AT -> TAP -> PANT -> NAP -> PAIN -> NIP -> PINS -> SIP -> IS -> SIT -> TIPS -> SPITS -> STRIPS -> SPIRITS

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  • $\begingroup$ You can go straight from TOPS to POT, shortening it by two. $\endgroup$ – Jaap Scherphuis Mar 25 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ Good work on SEAPORT! If "TA" is bothering you, consider my diabolical hints. Or not. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Mar 25 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Ah!! Thanks Jaap. I started from both ends and worked towards the middle, obviously went too far on one side! $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Mar 25 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ You can’t go from OAT to TAO as you must add/remove a letter. $\endgroup$ – Jaap Scherphuis Mar 25 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Doh! Good point, thanks, I've reverted that bit. @PiIsNot3 has a much more efficient answer for that one anyway $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Mar 25 at 18:14
7
$\begingroup$

KNIGHT to TIME using just 11 intermediate words.

KNIGHT
think
knit
stink
nits
tin
it
i
si
its
stim - this may be questionable, but exists in a modern and an older sense.
emits
TIME

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  • $\begingroup$ If stim is too eclectic, you could always try the more common mist, I suppose. $\endgroup$ – El-Guest Mar 25 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ @El-Guest That wouldn’t follow the rules of reversing the word and adding or removing a letter. $\endgroup$ – Jaap Scherphuis Mar 25 at 18:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Could you do it -> tie -> emit -> time (or must you always add and remove a letter)? I feel it says "may"... $\endgroup$ – El-Guest Mar 25 at 18:17
7
$\begingroup$

Partial:

  1. start: SLEEPY end: SLEEPER (suggested 16 intermediate words)

    SLEEPY, PEELS, SEEP, PEE, WEEP, PEW, WE, EWE, EWES, SEE, EVES, SEVER, REVELS, LEVER, REEL, LEPER, REPELS, SLEEPER (16)

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  • $\begingroup$ You can save two words by doing EWES -> SEE -> EELS -> LEE -> REEL, I believe $\endgroup$ – HTM Mar 25 at 20:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nice! Take it and compile em all for the win! $\endgroup$ – arbitrahj Mar 25 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I was actually really close on this one but couldn’t figure out how to go from WE to REEL. I actually had EWE written down at one point, but I didn’t think that would go anywhere, so props to you for making the connection that I couldn’t! :) $\endgroup$ – HTM Mar 25 at 20:35
4
$\begingroup$

Solution for BLOG to ABOUT in 12

BLOG
GOB
BONG
NOB
ON
NOT
TO
BOT
STOB
BOUTS
STUB
BUT
TUBA
ABOUT

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