My question: Is there any word in English (generically speaking) that have something like this:

In our language (Filipino), there's some words that if you subtracted or added a character to it will give you different meaning for example:

PAKANANG = Right part of 'PAKANAN' = Turn right PAKANA = Command / Mastermind PAKAN = Healt / Interest PAKA = Mollusk PAK = Wonderful PA = Father

  • Tagalog is an agglutinative language. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agglutinative_language) Agglutinative languages use suffixes and prefixes to form new words from a root word. English does not do this. In broad terms, English is a [fusional] analytic language (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytic_language) - it relies on syntax, prepositions, and context. – Greybeard Feb 28 '20 at 22:13
  • Like this? – Laurel Feb 28 '20 at 22:35
  • There was a word game we used to play which we called "superghosts" (unrelated to Gaming) where the players would take it in turns to add one letter to the front or back of a word (with an eventual actual word in mind) to form a new word, and if challenged at any point, would have to reveal the word they have in mind. – Weather Vane Feb 28 '20 at 22:43
  • Starling, staring, string, sting, sing, sin, in, I. Also see english.stackexchange.com/questions/16059/matryoshka-words – Mitch Feb 28 '20 at 23:06
  • Longest I could find by adding a letter at the end: a, an, ant, anti, antic, antica, antical, anticall, antically (anticall is a bit cheating but it was used before as a neologism) – 0.. Feb 29 '20 at 1:15

English definitely has words for which adding a letter gives a new unrelated word, and adding another letter gives another new word. I would imagine many languages do.

To, Tom, Tomb and Go, Got, Goth are two examples. I'm not aware of any cases that have as many as six words like in your example, but perhaps they exist. Here's a chain of five:

me - the objective case of I

met - past tense of meet

meth - common slang term for methamphetamine

metho - Australian term for methylated spirits

method - way of doing something

I've only given examples of letters being added at the end, because that's what your own example did, but there will be more possibilities if adding letters at the beginning is okay.

  • I edited my question and add 'G' in it to make seven. Is there any greater than it? – snap Feb 28 '20 at 23:05
  • Well Mitch's comment above gives an example with eight words, if you're happy for letters to be removed from the middle of the word rather than just the end. If it must be from the end then (as I said in my answer) I'm not aware of any cases that go to six words but that doesn't mean they don't exist. My example with five words was made up on the spot though, so it's not that hard to do... – nnnnnn Feb 28 '20 at 23:54

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