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Brainteaser Alert: What’s a 9-Letter Word That Becomes a New Term Each Time You Drop a Letter?


The English language is an amazing thing: adding, deleting, or rearranging just one letter can change a word’s meaning — sometimes dramatically (like “wordplay” and “swordplay”). This infuriating brainteaser is making the rounds and stumping the internet by asking people to think of a nine-letter word that remains a real word each time you remove one letter. Tricky, tricky!

With so many words in the English lexicon, it may be difficult to even come up with a nine-letter word. Additionally, the letters in the word have to be varied enough that you can still make eight other words with its letters. If visualizing this turns your brain into an alphabet soup, you may want to grab a pen and paper to write down your guesses.

Still stumped? We’ll start you off by giving you the nine-letter word — “startling.” Now, it’s up to you to do the hard part and figure out the order in which you remove letters so that you still end up with real words. Decisions, decisions! Once you guess the first letter, it should be relatively easy to get through the rest of the puzzle. If you unfortunately have to admit defeat, here’s the answer to the riddle. The order in which you should remove the letters is L, T, A, R, T, G, S, and N. Below you can see how that works out:


  • get rid of the L, and you get: STARTING
  • get rid of one T, and you get: STARING
  • get rid of the A, and you gets: STRING
  • get rid of the R, and you get: STING
  • get rid of the other T, and you get: SING
  • get rid of the G, and you get: SIN
  • get rid of the S, and you get: IN
  • get rid of the N, and you get: I

We don’t know about you, but “startling” really sums up this puzzle for us!

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