|Based on a Martin Gardner Puzzle
The letters STARTLING are hanging from a line to advertise a sale at a used car
lot, when out of nowhere a gust of wind causes the second T to fall. The
letters now read STARLING (which is a type of
bird) Your job is to select an order for the remainder of the letters
to fall (one at a time) such that the sign continues to proclaim a single
common English word after each letter falls.
I used the /usr/share/dict/words file, on my Linux system, to find some more words that have this same feature. Three of the longer ones are CLEANSERS, ROADSTERS and RESTARTED. Feel free to have a go at these as well.
There are several solutions to each puzzle. Some of the solutions submitted by
the people mentioned above contained words that I would not define as the
“common” ones that the problem asked for. However, some of my solutions use
terms not normally used in speech and the book that the first problem came from
was published in the late 60's when (I am guessing) the language was slightly
Here are my favorite solutions that were generated by my program.
The program I wrote to make the last three puzzles is here (fallingWords.cpp).