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Since it's Friday and others are playing games, here's another one to take us into the weekend.

Everyone knows about those Russian nesting dolls (called matryoshka dolls, I believe). A small doll nests inside a larger, which itself is inside a larger doll, and so on.

This game does the same with words. You start with a three-letter word, add a letter to make another word, and so on. Longest word wins. The catch? Each additional letter has to form a legitimate word.

Here's one to start you off:

bur
burr
burro
burrow
burrows

Good luck.

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7 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you're willing to accept the surname "Barrett", the longest I can find (with a program) is 10 letters, "barretters":

bar
barr: to cry as an elephant, abbreviation of "barrister"
barre: (ballet) A handrail fixed to a wall used for ballet exercises.
barret: A kind of military cap
Barrett: A surname (recall Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
barrette: A clasp or clip for gathering and holding the hair.
barretter: A ballast resistor
barretters: plural form of barretter

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4  
starts off sounding like a beach boys song :) –  crowne Mar 12 '11 at 15:50
    
We are feeling generous, so I think we'll allow Barrett. And award the check. –  Robusto Apr 16 '11 at 16:09
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I managed to find only eight.

max
maxi
maxim
maxima
maximal
maximals

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About the "niners": Unfortunately, they all involve obscure words and abbreviations, many of which are hard to accept. Anyway, the list: Romanisms Romanists barretter barrettes colonials composers condoners contrasts contrasty marchesas marcheses marineras marshalls modernest tamarinds tamarisks –  ShreevatsaR Mar 13 '11 at 7:41
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Hopefully not breaking the rules here (inserting and prepending allowed):

I
in
sin
sing
sting
string
staring
starling
starlings

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Nice try, but that does change the rules. If you allow insertions, that opens it up quite a bit. Interesting twist, though. –  Robusto Dec 16 '11 at 17:59
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I have 7:

  • pa
  • pas
  • past
  • paste
  • pastel and pastels
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Here's what I have:

  • Pot
  • Pots
  • Spots
  • Sports
  • Sprouts
  • Supports

I'm not sure if you're allowed to rearrange letters like I did in Supports, so here's another one:

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Interesting variation on the game. Opens it up quite a bit. –  Robusto Apr 6 '11 at 20:10
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  • but
  • butt
  • butte
  • butter
  • butterfly

Do the rules allow for jumping from butter to butterfly?

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Nice try, but you have to proceed one letter at a time. You could go to buttery next, but not butterfly. –  Robusto Mar 12 '11 at 12:09
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  • cap
  • cape
  • caper
  • capers: the flower buds of the caper plant
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