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alphabetical-order words


Some English words have three adjacent letters in the same order as they occur in the alphabet; e.g., a word containing a-b-c in that order, or a word containing f-g-h in that order.

There are 24 different possible three-letter sequences, starting with abc and ending with xyz. If the alphabet is imagined in circular form, with a following z, then there are 26 possible three-letter sequences including yza and zab. A list of such words might start with dabchick and end with zabaglione.

(Words containing four letters in alphabetical order are rare. “Understudy” is one of them.)

Here is a list of words exemplifying 12 of the 26 theoretically possible three-letter alphabetical combinations. Readers are invited to find other examples, and also to try to find words illustrating any of the missing 14 three-letter sequences.

abcess (bcd) ecderon indefinite (efg) afghan sighing hijack (ijk, jkl, klm) calmness omnopon monopoly (opq, pqr, qrs) first astute (tuv, uvw, vwx, wxy, xyz, yza) zabaglione (a desert)

A dabchick is a kind of small water-bird. Ecderon is a word referring to the outer layer of the skin and its associated structures (hairs, nails, etc.). Omnopon is a medication consisting of a mixture of opium hydrochlorides. A zabaglione is an Italian dessert consisting of egg yolk, sugar, and wine, whipped to a froth, and served hot or cold.


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