This is possibly off-topic here - please redirect me if necessary

I am looking for the name of a type of word where you can continually remove one letter from the start or end of the word, until there is just one letter left, and every intermediate word is a valid word in the English language.

For example, brandy is such a word, because after each letter is removed below, we get another word:


What is the name for words with this property?

I'm new on ELU.SE; I can probably do with some help with tagging this question correctly.

  • 2
    I don't know if such words have a name, but another example is startling: starting-staring-string-sting-sing-sin-in-I.
    – Shoe
    Jun 28, 2014 at 4:43
  • 1
    You do not remove from only the start or end there, @Shoe
    – mplungjan
    Jun 28, 2014 at 5:32
  • Similar to trim in programming , left-trim, right-trim, except that trim removes leading/ trailing blank spaces. You could try asking on a programming Q&A where string handling is an interesting topic. Or Linguistics where they must have already research deep into these things.
    – Kris
    Jun 28, 2014 at 6:23
  • 1
    I think it's a joey, in any case strongly related check out these questions Word for “No I in Team” and Is there a term for a word inside another word?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 28, 2014 at 9:44
  • @Mari-LouA joey is a good suggestion, though is slightly more general that what I am looking for. In fact according to some sources in the wikipedia article, if any of the consecutive letters in the joey are also consecutive in the kangaroo, then it is disqualified. I like the suggestion though, so +1 to you if you add it as an answer :) Jul 11, 2014 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


This is an example of an aphetic word game:

Aphetic (adj) shortened by dropping a letter or a syllable from the beginning of a word; as, an aphetic word or form

From definitions.net.

  • 1
    I don't think so 1880, from aphesis, coined by OED editor Sir James A.H. Murray (1837-1915) for "gradual and unintentional loss of a short unaccented vowel at the beginning of a word" (as squire from esquire), from Gk. aphienai "to let go, to send forth," from apo- "from" + hienai "to send." and from The Free Dictionary The loss of an initial, usually unstressed vowel, as in cute from acute. The OP is asking about continually omitting letters from a word whereby a new word is created every time.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 28, 2014 at 16:29
  • A repetaphetic? But that doesn't help with the loss of the final letters.
    – bib
    Jun 28, 2014 at 17:52

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