9 letter words with several anagrams

While perusing the statistics of wordcube, I was wondering how many 9 letter words have multiple anagrams (using all the letters in a single word) and what was the maximum number of anagrams. So I wrote a quick and dirty python program to find out. I will first show the results as they are interesting followed by my coding and methods to improve the efficiency of it.

Here are all the nine letter words with more than 2 anagrams:

  • 1. auctioned cautioned education
  • 2. beastlier bleariest liberates
  • 3. cattiness scantiest tacitness
  • 4. countries cretinous neurotics
  • 5. cratering retracing terracing
  • 6. dissenter residents tiredness
  • 7. earthling haltering lathering
  • 8. emigrants mastering streaming
  • 9. estranges greatness sergeants
  • 10. gnarliest integrals triangles
  • 11. mutilates stimulate ultimates
  • 12. reprising respiring springier

I only found 12 sets of 3, there may be more with a larger dictionary. I was also disappointed that there were no words with 4 anagrams yet not entirely unsurprising. My personal favourite is number 10

[poll id=”11″]


I recycled an anagram checking function that I have used before:

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

# Anagram checking function
def anagramchk(word,chkword):
	for letter in word:
		if letter in chkword:
			chkword=chkword.replace(letter, '', 1)
			return 0
	return 1 

First program

Firstly I created a dirty program that created a loop to cycle through the 9 letter word dictionary and another loop nested inside to check against every word in the dictionary again. This is a terrible and inefficient method and will create duplicates, I will follow with a more efficient method.

g=open('eng-9-letter', 'r')
for l in g:

	f=open('eng-9-letter', 'r')
	for line in f:
		if anagramchk(line,wordin):
			w+=" "+line
	if count>2:
		print wordin, count, "(",w,")"


This program took 80.42s to find the 12 solutions. On the path to better coding I decided to load the dictionary into memory, this sped the code up about 20s to 63.88s.

# Load dictionary into memory
f=open('eng-9-letter', 'r')
for line in f:

I then attempted to create a method that loops over and removes words from the dictionary as it loops, however I don’t know the correct way (if there is one?) of modifying the loop variable while inside the loop without causing problems.

for word in dic:
	if ....:

If anyone knows a good method of doing this please let me know! I did managed to hack together something using slices so that I could modify the dictionary each time, however I imagine this is still quite inefficient.

for word in dic[:]:
	for word2 in dic[:]:
		if anagramchk(word,word2):
			w+=word2+" "
	if count>2:
		print w

Even so this method now avoids duplication of results and completes in 31.87s (machine running at 3.15Ghz). Please let me know of any improvements you think can be made and I’ll happily benchmark to see how much better it is.


  1. Toby

    0.63 real 0.57 user 0.03 sys
    on a 2.8GHz core 2 duo.

    from collections import defaultdict

    d = defaultdict(set)
    for i in open(‘/usr/share/dict/words’):
    i = i.strip().lower()
    if len(i) == 9:

    for k,v in sorted(d.items(), key = lambda (k,v): (len(k), min(v))):
    if len(v) > 2:
    print ‘\t’.join(v)

  2. Toby

    Sorry about the formatting.

    from collections import defaultdict
    d = defaultdict(set)
    for i in open('/usr/share/dict/words'):
      i = i.strip().lower()
      if len(i) == 9:
    for k,v in sorted(d.items(), key = lambda (k,v): (len(k), min(v))):
      if len(v) > 2:
        print '\t'.join(v)

    Edited: Fixed formatting

  3. Michael

    I’ve got something similar to Toby’s. It’s a bit more verbose (not a bad thing) and includes handling for my word list, which includes apostrophes:

    from collections import defaultdict
    src = open('/etc/dictionaries-common/words', 'r')
    d = defaultdict(set)
    for word in src:
        word = word.strip().lower()
        if len(word) == 9 and "'" not in word:
            key = tuple(sorted(word))
    sortedSets = [sorted(x) for x in d.values() if len(x) > 2]
    for wordset in sorted(sortedSets):
        print(' '.join(wordset))

    That dictionary is what Debian sets up. I’ve got the American English Large dictionary installed. Using that, every set with more than 3 words is:

    * erections neoterics resection secretion
    * orientals orleanist relations tiroleans

    Edited: Fixed formatting

  4. Michael

    Forgot to mention…

    I didn’t bother to time it. But it ran under a second on an antique Athlon with Python 2.6.6.

  5. Martin Elliott-Hunter
    import sys
    wd = {}
    for l in open ( sys.argv[1] ):
        w = l.strip()
        wl = []
        for letter in w:
            wl.append ( letter )
        ws = "".join ( wl )
            wd[ws].append ( w )
            wd[ws] = [ w ]
    for ws, wl in wd.iteritems():
        if  len ( wl ) > 2:
            print " ".join ( wl )

    using all 9 letter words in /usr/share/dict/words on ubuntu 10.04, takes o.25 seconds on AND Athlon X2 4000+.

    estranges greatness sergeants
    mutilates stimulate ultimates
    cratering retracing terracing
    reprising respiring springier
    gnarliest integrals triangles
    dissenter residents tiredness
    cartesian ascertain sectarian
    emigrants mastering streaming
    beastlier bleariest liberates
    redrawing rewarding wardering
    resorting restoring rostering
    earthling haltering lathering
    enlisting listening tinseling
    orientals orientals relations
    auctioned cautioned education
    dangering deranging gardening
    countries cretinous neurotics
    cattiness scantiest tacitness

  6. mat

    @Toby , @Michael Wow thanks for the code snippets, that is such a clever way of doing it! I knew there had to be a snazzy way of getting this to work.

    @Martin Elliott-Hunter Also good, as the other two have used the built in sorted method, I rewrote part of your code from:

    	w = l.strip()
    	wl = []
    	for letter in w:
    		wl.append ( letter )
    	ws = "".join ( wl )


    ws = "".join ( sorted(l.strip()) )

    Which improved its performance significantly.

    I preformed a quick benchmark on my laptop but will compare them properly when I get home.

    Toby: 0.0978s
    Michael: 0.0696s
    Martin: 0.1049s
    Martin (+sorted): 0.0624s

    Thanks again for your coding skills, have learnt a valuable method.

    Edited code to show correct indentation

  7. Martin Elliott-Hunter

    if your code was as shown above, the line ‘wl.sort’ should not be indented; as shown the sort gets done for each letter. ‘sorted’ is better anyway. It didn’t occur me because I’m an old-fashioned programmer and I pre-date ‘sorted’. I like to write code that is as simple as possible so I can make sense of it later.

    “Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.” Kernighan ?

  8. Martin

    On a VM with a 500 Mhz CPU running Fedora 13, after installing the “words” rpm (sudo yum install words), I ran Michael’s code and obtained 689 hits in 1.362s.

  9. mat

    @Martin Elliott-Hunter Ah yeah, my incorrect copy of your code would have caused it to do 8 unnecessary sorts per word.

  10. mat

    Doing a comparison on my home computer.

    Toby: 0.0533s
    Michael: 0.0369s
    Martin (+correct code indentation): 0.0484s
    Martin (+sorted): 0.0350s

    I’m gonna post another article about 10 letter anagrams using some of the new code 🙂 Thanks again for your help!

  11. […] anagrams I am posting the final code I have created taking into account suggestions/snippets from Michael, Toby and Martin. Added two variables to make it nice and easy to modify what to look […]

  12. Joe

    Word Maker Scrabble works good for this type of thing.

  13. adam

    Yeah I found that Scrabble Dictionary has awesome anagram tools!

  14. WilliamOrek

    I truly appreciate this forum post.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.


    After looking into a handful oof the articles on your site, I honestly lik your technique of blogging.

    I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checiing back soon. Please visit my website tooo andd tell me
    your opinion.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *