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An isogram (also known as a "nonpattern word") is a logological term for a word or phrase without a repeating letter. It is also used by some people to mean a word or phrase in which each letter appears the same number of times, not necessarily just once.[1] Conveniently, the word itself is an isogram in both senses of the word, making it autological.

In the book Language on Vacation: An Olio of Orthographical Oddities, Dmitri Borgmann tries to find the longest isogrammic word. The longest one he found was "Dermatoglyphics" at 15 letters. He coins several longer hypothetical words, such as "thumbscrew-japingly" (18 letters, defined as "as if mocking a thumbscrew") and, with the "uttermost limit in the way of verbal creativeness", "pubvexingfjord-schmaltzy" (23 letters, defined as "as if in the manner of the extreme sentimentalism generated in some individuals by the sight of a majestic fjord, which sentimentalism is annoying to the clientele of an English inn").

In the book Making the Alphabet Dance, Ross Eckler reports the word "subdermatoglyphic" (17 letters) can be found in Lowell Goldmith's article Chaos: To See a World in a Grain of Sand and a Heaven in a Wild Flower. He also found the name "Melvin Schwarzkopf" (17 letters), a man living in Alton, Illinois, and proposed the name "Emily Jung Schwartzkopf" (21 letters). In an elaborate story, Eckler talked about a group of scientists who name the unavoidable urge to speak in pangrams the "Hjelmqvist-Gryb-Zock-Pfund-Wax syndrome".

The longest German isogram is "Heizölrückstoßabdämpfung" (heating oil recoil dampening) with 24 letters, closely followed by "Boxkampfjuryschützlinge" (box fight jury fosterlings) and "Zwölftonmusikbücherjagd" (twelve-tone music book chase) with 23 letters. The longest Dutch isogram is "Exvakbondsjuryzwijgplicht" (former union jury oath of secrecy) with 24 letters. The Dutch alphabet consists of 27 letters (a–z and ij).

Uses in ciphers[edit]

Isograms can be useful as keys in ciphers, since isogram sequences of the same length make for simple one-to-one mapping between the symbols. Ten-letter isograms like PATHFINDER, DUMBWAITER, and BLACKHORSE are commonly used by salespeople of products where the retail price is typically negotiated, such as used cars, jewelry, or antiques.[citation needed]

For example, using the PATHFINDER cipher, P represents 1, A represents 2 and so on. The price tag for an item selling for $1200 may also bear the cryptic letters FRR, written on the back or bottom of the tag. A salesman familiar with the PATHFINDER cipher will know that the original cost of the item was $500, so that if the price is negotiated he will not accidentally eliminate all of the 140% margin in the $1200 price shown to prospective buyers.

A twelve-letter cipher can be used to indicate months of the year.


17 letters[edit]

  • subdermatoglyphic

16 letters[edit]

15 letters[edit]

14 letters[edit]

  • ambidextrously
  • computerizably
  • croquet-playing
  • dermatoglyphic
  • hydromagnetics
  • hydropneumatic
  • pseudomythical
  • subformatively
  • troublemakings
  • undiscoverably

13 letters[edit]

  • consumptively
  • copyrightable
  • documentarily
  • draughtswomen
  • endolymphatic
  • flamethrowing
  • flowchartings
  • hydromagnetic
  • lycanthropies
  • metalworkings
  • misconjugated
  • multibranched
  • subordinately
  • troublemaking
  • uncopyrighted
  • unmaledictory
  • unpredictably
  • unproblematic
  • unsympathized

12 letters[edit]

11 letters[edit]

  • abolishment
  • atmospheric
  • backgrounds
  • birthplaces
  • campgrounds
  • complainers
  • copyrighted
  • countryside
  • dangerously
  • designatory
  • disgraceful
  • disturbance
  • documentary
  • earthmoving
  • embracingly
  • facetiously
  • filmography
  • fluoridates
  • foremanship
  • geophysical
  • imprudently
  • importances
  • journalized
  • juxtaposing
  • keyboarding
  • lumberjacks
  • misanthrope
  • misanthropy
  • nefariously
  • overstaying
  • palindromes
  • percolating
  • personality
  • playgrounds
  • playwrights
  • precautions
  • predictably
  • problematic
  • quaveringly
  • regulations
  • republicans
  • secondarily
  • semordnilap
  • spaceflight
  • speculation
  • stenography
  • subcategory
  • Switzerland
  • thunderclap
  • trampolines
  • undesirably
  • unpolarized
  • vibraphones
  • vouchsafing
  • warehousing
  • workmanship
  • xylographic

10 letters[edit]

There are hundreds of eleven-letter isograms, over one thousand ten-letter isograms and thousands of such nine-letter words.[2] Isograms are not particularly useful in the game of Hangman but could make a particularly difficult puzzle on the game show Wheel of Fortune.

The word "isogram" itself is a seven-letter isogram.


  1. ^ Crossword Glossary
  2. ^ Berry, Nick (2012). "Distinct letters". Retrieved 2012-09-28.