I am looking for the name of the property of words spelled with at most 1 of each characters.

Words like palindrome make me hope there is a single word for this but I would be satisfied with multiple words. I guess the negation of another property is also an acceptable answer. If no such category like this exist I'd like to know what would be the correct way to call them.

Examples of words with this property:

  • Albinos
  • Axe
  • Bear
  • Boat

Examples of words without this property:

  • Banana (three a and two n)
  • Beer (two e)
  • Bottle (two t)

Its common for kids to have A to Z letters to help them to learn the alphabet but then we can only create words with that property.


1 Answer 1



from Wikipedia:

A heterogram (from hetero-, meaning "different", + -gram, meaning "written") is a word, phrase, or sentence in which no letter of the alphabet occurs more than once.

As you ask for the name of a property and heterogram refers to the word (or phrase or sentence) itself, you could say that a word is heterogrammatic.

Words related to heterogram include:

  • pangram, a word or phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet; and
  • isogram, a word or phrase in which all letters occur an equal number of times

There's room for overlap in these categories, of course.

As the Wikipedia article notes:

An isogram ... is the same as a heterogram when each letter occurs once. ...

A perfect heterogram is ... the same as a perfect pangram, since both consist of all letters of the alphabet with each represented exactly once.

The word heterogram does not have particularly wide currency, presumably as it is so specific and specialist, and most dictionaries do not seem to list it. (I've come across it before but I only find it in Wiktionary and in Wikipedia; I don't have proper paper dictionaries to hand at the moment to check.)

Alternative definitions of heterogram

To further complicate matters, while heterogram does fit the bill here, it also has several additional definitions.

A heterogram can also be:

in the study of ancient texts ... a special kind of a logogram consisting of the embedded written representation of a word in a foreign language, which does not have a spoken counterpart in the main ... language of the text.

[For example] in English, the written abbreviations e.g., i.e., and viz. are often read respectively as "for example", "that is", and "namely".

And also, apparently:

a heterogram is a poem in which no two adjacent words share a letter in common.

I'm not sure about this last definition; it sounds familiar to me but I can't find it attested to elsewhere. Perhaps take it with a pinch of salt.

  • Very interesting piece of research. However, it, and the question it answers, leaves me with a further question. Why would anyone be interested enough in the phenomenon to need a word for it? What significant connection could the word adze have with the word ‘sketch’. Trivial pursuit might be interested in finding the longest heteronym in the English language. “What do the words ‘adze’ and sketch’ have in common might be a briefly amusing trick question. We can reasonably speculate that the number of heteronyms varies in in inverse proportion to the number of letters. But so what?
    – Tuffy
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 15:01
  • 1
    It is also an artefact of spelling - e.g. British English "travelling" and American English "traveling".
    – alephzero
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 15:55
  • 1
    @Tuffy From my (very limited) research the context where heterogram is used seems very narrow: among people interested in wordplay, puzzlers and, often, programmers. As to why, I suspect that if you have to ask, you'll never know. If you do want an actual answer, it is a question that would be better put to OP!
    – tmgr
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 17:48

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