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This is a proof that Omega Krypton's answer of 38 is optimal, as long as these words are nonexistent (single implication): EEVEN,EINE,ENINE,FIUR,FIVR,FOVE,NIGE,NINH,OWO,,SEGEN,SEVET,SEVHN,SIVEN,TNO,TWE First, a calculation of the theoretical best (although no suitable words may exist), by using a Levenshteins distance (word difference by letters) ...


39 steps (40 words): Word 6 courtesy of @Gareth Definition of less-known words:


Without using somewhat obscure words, there is no way to go from EIGHT to SEVEN. (12 steps) with one rare word (the same as what @Gareth McCaughan got): The rarish word is asterisked. To find this I used a program which knows the rarity of each word (via the SCOWL word list) (11 steps) allowing rare English words (rare words asterisked): Allowing ...


Best solution so far: 38 steps 9-7 from @Gareth, and sien from @devyndraen thanks!


Here's one way. It probably isn't close to optimal. 42 steps if I've counted right. Credit where due: the path from EIGHT to SEVEN is derived from Hunter's answer to an earlier puzzle, though not much of that answer remains in what I have there now. JonMark Perry spotted what in hindsight should have been an obvious improvement in the path from FOUR to ...


This is longer (12 steps) than the other solutions here but uses only words I can actually define (and that aren't proper nouns or words only in other languages like "Old English" which despite the name really shouldn't be considered the same language as English). Anyone got a shorter ordinary-words-only solution?


Eight step solution


Six steps - Shameless use of Old English with Wiktionary support: Ten steps - If you insist on using Modern English, here is a shortened one highly based on @Gareth's:


Here's my 8-step solution: (I don't know if SINHS - plural for SINH ("hyperbolic sine function") is an accepted word)


I guess I am just not very good at these puzzles... the solution I found is 3,001 steps long without repeating any words.


Four, but using more ancient spelling (where U and V were interchangeable)


As @RossMillikan pointed out correctly, the proof from @TheSimpliFire is incomplete. The following part F i v e, F _ _ _, F _ _ _, F _ _ _, F o u r. Therefore, at each step, one of i v e must be changed to match o u r, without any deviations. This is clearly impossible. can be done with any of the following sequences Five => F_ve => F_ue / F_vr => F_ur ...


In this answer I will show that five steps is the minimum number required (from the answer by @JoãoBravo). Suppose by contradiction that there are four. Then the sequence will be of the form F i v e, _ _ _ _, _ _ _ _, _ _ _ _, F o u r. If the first letter remains unchanged the whole way through, the sequence is F i v e, F _ _ _, F _ _ _, F _ _ _, F o u r....


Just signed up to share some of the solutions (3 of them) I was able to come up with in 6 steps: OH MAN! After a lot of searching I was able to do it in 5 steps (5 solutions): I confirmed the words on Anagrammer. EDIT: although all words are accepted on Anagrammer, someone pointed out in the comments that two of the words used in the 6-step solutions ...


Seven steps (with some obscurer words): Something that might lead to five, if it can be completed: That's three steps from FIVE to something that shares two letters with FOUR.


I found a solution in seven steps.


I can do it in With one more obscure word, I can do it in


Though I have to point out that


Here (almost) is a classic one:

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