A Hike Unlike Any Other

Dec 18, 2006

RAY: A guy named Bruce Douglas sent this puzzler in just a couple of weeks ago. I had to reobfuscate, but not a whole lot. He writes,

"My wife and I like to go hiking and several years ago, like another of your listeners, Dinesh, we spent lots of time in Death Valley trying to kill ourselves. Then two years ago we hiked in the Florida Everglades and my wife's brother came along on that trip. He wasn't too good at staying on the trails or heeding the various warning signs about alligators and such and that would explain why we now call him 'Lefty.'

'But last year, we went hiking someplace where the trails are marked in time and not distance. For example if we wanted to go from two points that were 12 miles from Point A to Point B then the sign would read perhaps 4.5 hours instead of 12 miles.

"On this particular day, we were planning to hike from Point A to Point C via Point B, where we would stop for lunch. At the outset the trail markers told us that it was 8 hours from A to C.

"At Point B where we stopped for lunch, we had our lunch and got ready to get back on the trail. The markers told us that it was 3 hours back to Point A and 3 hours to Point C. These signs proved to be completely accurate. How could this be?'
RAY: What is the longest English word, that remains a valid English word, as you remove its letters one at a time?

Now, letters can be removed from either end, or the middle, but you can't rearrange any of the letters. Every time you drop a letter, you wind up with another English word. If you do that, you're eventually going to wind up with one letter and that too is going to be an English word-- one that's found in the dictionary. I want to know what's the longest word. What's the word, and how many letters does it have?

I'm going to give you a little modest example: Sprite. Ok? You start off with sprite, you take a letter off, one from the interior of the word, take the r away, and we're left with the word spite, then we take the e off the end, we're left with spit, we take the s off, we're left with pit, it, and I.

Obviously, the word I'm looking for is much longer. I think there's more than one of them. In fact I know there's more than one word.

We're going to extend the deadline an extra week on this puzzler, because there's not just one answer. We're going to have to assemble all the answers that we get and then David's going to have to go through the thousands of answers that we get... on Christmas Day. We're going to chain him to the floor, and then we're going to come up with the winner. And I should mention plurals are not involved and proper names are not allowed.

What is the longest word that meets these criteria?

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