Word Game: License to Spell

(That is a terrible name for this game. I’ve been trying to think of a more graceful one for weeks.)

There is a game I have created that I often play as a passenger on the roads of life. The game involves license plates and spelling but not anagrams. (It doesn’t work with vanity plates like the one above that I came up with and I thought was hilarious when I was younger.) (It is also hilarious now.)

So basically, on most license plates there is a series of 3 letters like this:

You take the 3 letters, keep them in order, and try to come up with as many words as possible that have those letters in that order. They can be word-initial, they can be together or separate, but they must stay in that order. So for the above example, words could be have these possible orders: BQU_, _BQU, B_QU_, _B_Q_U, ___B___QU___, etc. Bequeath, bezique (it’s a card game), Albuquerque, Bisquick… That combination is pretty hard, actually, my list is here: BQU.

You can use proper names, you can use company names, you can use hyphenated words, and compound words. If you’re really stuck you can use a two-word phrase like “be quiet” just so you can get some satisfaction at having found at least one solution. It’s not really about points, or length. Some of the shortest words are quite elegant, but the long ones can be impressive purely for their size.

The purpose of the game is to keep your brain occupied during silent two-person car trips, or to have something to do with the driver that engages them but also keeps their eyes on the road. When it’s a really good combination, I try to remember them and make it a tag on wordnik.com. I haven’t done that so much, but I’m working on it.


You can also play this game in a stationary position, you just need 3 letters. The simplest way to randomly choose 3 letters is to ask someone in the room for their initials, or think of the full name of a famous person. I have made a list using my own initials, BMH. You can see the kind of liberties I took for the sake of creating a longer list.

I just asked a housemate for his initials, which are TGG, which seems to require an “ing” nearly every time to get all three of those letters in together. At first, I thought he said TTG, so I made a list of those, too.

Anyway, feel free to play. Some are easy and endless, some are impossibly hard, but most of them are a good combination of low-hanging fruit and satisfying brain teasers. If you want clarification on rules, or have a suggestion of how to take the game to the next level, lemme know.

March 6, 2010

in cars,game,word games,wordnik,Words & Origins

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Thom March 7, 2010 at 3:59 AM

I approve–TGG


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