14
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Using only a sequence of transpositions, see if you can take this:

start_state

to this:

finish_state

while maintaining English words on each of the three horizontals.


At each step, you may transpose any two neighboring letters, either up-down or left-right.

At each step, you must have three horizontal English words.

All the words along the way should be common and familiar (certainly no less familiar than LUSHER). No need to reach for the dictionary.



If you want a similar puzzle but with more horizontal action, please see the exciting sequel here.


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  • $\begingroup$ Q: Can you use "lusher" in a sentence? $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 23 at 15:02
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ A: "And we came upon yet another meadow, each meadow greener and lusher than the last..." $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 23 at 15:02
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ another high-quality transposition puzzle! applauds in happiness $\endgroup$ – Brandon_J Jan 23 at 15:19
5
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A solution using all vertical transpositions. All changes annotated and words defined.

  • MATTED [starting word]
    BASHES [starting word]
    LUSHER [starting word]

  • MATTED [no change]
    BASHER (one who hits)
    LUSHES (drunk people)

  • BATTED (hit, as a baseball)
    MASHER (kitchen tool, for crushing)
    LUSHES [no change]

  • BATHED (cleaned, as in a shower)
    MASTER (boss)
    LUSHES [no change]

  • BATHED [no change]
    MUSTER (assemble, in the military)
    LASHES (ties to)

  • BASHED (hit, in the past)
    MUTTER (grumble)
    LASHES [no change]

  • BASHED [no change]
    MATTER (be relevant)
    LUSHES [seen before]

  • BASHED [no change]
    LATTER (last in a series)
    MUSHES (runs a team of sled dogs; I almost didn't submit because this isn't a super-common word, but then I saw there was an existing answer and it used MUSHES and the author didn't complain about it)

  • LASHED (tied to)
    BATTER (baseball player on offense)
    MUSHES [no change]

  • LASHED [no change]
    BUTTER (dairy product)
    MASHES (crushes, as potatoes)

  • LASHER (one who ties)
    BUTTED (cut in line)
    MASHES [no change]

  • LUSHER [seen before]
    BATTED [seen before]
    MASHES [no change]

  • LUSHER [no change]
    MATTED [seen before]
    BASHES [seen before]

  • LUSHER [no change]
    MATTES (not glossy or shiny; plural)
    BASHED [seen before]

  • MUSHER (one who runs sled dogs)
    LATTES (coffees)
    BASHED [no change]

  • MUSHER [no change]
    LATHES (rotating tools)
    BASTED (injected liquid into, as with food)

  • MUSHES [seen before]
    LATHER (product of soap use)
    BASTED [no change]

  • MUSHES [no change]
    LATTER [seen before]
    BASHED [seen before]

  • LUSHES [seen before]
    MATTER [seen before]
    BASHED [no change]

  • LUSHES [no change]
    BATTER [seen before]
    MASHED (crushed, as potatoes)

  • LUSHES [no change]
    BATTED [seen before]
    MASHER [seen before]

  • LUSHES [no change]
    BATHED [seen before]
    MASTER [seen before]

  • LUSHES [no change]
    BASHED [seen before]
    MATTER [seen before]

  • LUSHES [no change]
    BASHER [seen before]
    MATTED [seen before]

  • LUSHER [seen before]
    BASHES [seen before]
    MATTED [no change]

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent, excellent work! Not only did you complete the path, but you matched the shortest possible path (24 steps) as calculated by my word list. Very impressive. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 28 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ And I learned something: The rest of the world is not nearly so familiar with MUSH/MUSHER/MUSHING as Americans are. I guess the Alaskan dogsled is part of our "pioneering spirit" or "frontier mythology". If someone is pulling you in a wagon or sled, is not uncommon to jokingly say, "Mush! Mush!" and everyone will know what you are referring to. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 28 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ @SlowMagic LUSHES was the one I had assumed wasn't a word. MUSHER, even if you don't know about Alaskan culture, could be a tool for mushing food. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jan 28 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor — Oh, right, it was Gareth who wasn't familiar with MUSHER. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 28 at 15:58
9
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My answer:

  • MATTED
    BASHES
    LUSHER

  • MATTED
    BUSHES
    LASHER

  • BATTED
    MUSHES
    LASHER

  • BATTED
    MUSHER
    LASHES

  • BATTER
    MUSHED
    LASHES

  • BUTTER
    MASHED
    LASHES

  • BUTTER
    LASHED
    MASHES

  • BUTTER
    LASHES
    MASHED

  • BUSTER
    LATHES
    MASHED

  • LUSTER
    BATHES
    MASHED

  • LUSTER
    BASHES
    MATHED

  • LUSHER
    BASTES
    MATHED

  • LUSHER
    BASHES
    MATTED

Most questionable word:

MATHED (an abbreviation for Mathematics Education, or a verbification of "math").

Note that

American English is being used, both for LUSTER (meaning lustre, not one who lusts) and MATHED.

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  • $\begingroup$ There are solution paths which do not involve the word MATHED, since it is an abbreviation. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 23 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, I actually removed LUSTRE from my word list because it seemed to have something to do with a five-year period, which I never even heard of before. So I figured, "I'm not in Kansas anymore with this word, I better take it out..." $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 23 at 15:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan — Wait, what's wrong with MUSHER? Alaskans and Inuit people would be very familiar with that word! $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 23 at 17:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan — I think I've spotted a novel vacation idea for you... $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jan 23 at 17:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I believe that MATHED can be analysed as past of the colloquial verb to math (to do mathematical calculations). $\endgroup$ – trolley813 Jan 23 at 22:00

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