Word Ladders: Torture or Teacher?


Brain Games Cover

The puzzles I used in this post appear in the book titled, “Brain Games: Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day” unless otherwise specified.  The contributing writer for Brain Games is Holli Fort and the puzzle editor is Fraser Simpson. Brain Games is a trademark of Publications International, Ltd. Louis Weber, CEO of Publications International, allowed me to use Publications International puzzles in my post. I chose to write this post because solving, and attempting to solve, Word Ladders can be a very cognitively challenging exercise.



According to Wikipedia, “Word Ladders (also known as Doublets, Word Links, or Word Golf)” are word games “invented by Lewis Carroll.” A word ladder starts and ends with given words. To solve the puzzle one must find a chain of other words to link the starting and ending words, such that each word in the chain differs by only one letter.


In the following example, which was provided by DLTK’s Craft for Kids, the starting word is “Green” and the ending word is “Grass.” The puzzle asks us to provide a chain of other words such that the starting word becomes the ending word when each step in the chain changes by only one letter from the previous word. In the example, there are six steps in the chain. Theoretically, the length of a chain will be provided with the puzzle. Furthermore, a chain could be any length necessary to solve the puzzle

  • Starting Word: Green
  • Step 1: Greed
  • Step 2: Treed
  • Step 3: Trees
  • Step 4: Tress
  • Step 5: Cress
  • Step 6: Crass
  • Ending Word: Grass

Can you solve the following Word Ladders?

Featured Puzzles

2014-0704 Word Ladders from Book


You can find an example of some of the following variations here:

  • Change the difficulty by changing the number of letters in the starting word.
  • Make the puzzle easier by filling in letters of words in the chain.
  • Make a puzzle easier by providing a synonym of words used in the chain.


Click here to read another Beyond Injury post in the Torture or Teacher series.

Thanks to Wikipedia for providing the instructions I used in this post; DLTK’s Craft for Kids for providing the example of Word Ladders I used in this post; Barnes & Nobel for stocking the book in which the puzzle appears; Amazon for providing the picture of the book cover; Publications International for publishing a book that includes the puzzles, and allowing me to include the puzzles in this post; Google for helping me find the picture I used in this post; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.

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