Halfway through a game of hangman, the piece of paper you are playing on might look something like this (omitting the partial drawing of the hanged man).

Guessed letters: EASTNRM

What is a natural term to use for the "partial word" _AN_MAN? I have tried googling, but to no avail. I am looking for a single word or short phrase that would be understood by anybody, and is less clumsy than "partial word". In my head I've been calling _AN_MAN the board, similar to how I suppose you might call a particular arrangement of chess pieces on a chess board "the board", but I do not think this would be immediately understood/considered natural.

Example sentence:

After guessing seven letters, the _____ was _AN_MAN.

  • 2
    Not really enough to quality as an answer, so am adding as a comment. I think some play on revealed might get your meaning across pretty clearly: After guessing 7 letters, the revealed portion was _AN_MAN.
    – Zack
    Aug 19, 2019 at 13:12
  • I would call it a template.
    – TonyK
    Aug 21, 2019 at 15:05

2 Answers 2


Several word finder websites allow you to find a word based on partial information; they would list HANGMAN, SANDMAN etc. as the options for the input _AN_MAN.

Some of them, e.g. this one call the input a word pattern.

(The sites generally offer more options than necessary for Hangman; a blank in Hangman is always only one character, similar to the ? wildcard.)

  • 1
    pattern is also the term used for the combined Regular Expression (aka RegEx) symbols used for matching in computer programming.
    – user150753
    Aug 19, 2019 at 10:49


‘Answer’ is a simple word for the partial word in Hangman.

Whether ‘partial’ or ‘full’ it is still the ‘answer’, so I think you can use that term.

Meaning of answer ‘a correct response’.


  • 1
    I don’t agree. _AN_MAN is not an answer. Only the completed word can be an answer here.
    – TonyK
    Aug 21, 2019 at 15:03
  • 1
    _AN_MAN is the ‘answer so far’. It is ‘the answer’ at a certain point in the game. If the player cancels the game, it will be the only answer to ever have existed. Thus, it is ‘the answer’.
    – Jelila
    Aug 22, 2019 at 0:46

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