by Eric Chaikin
Word Ways, 1998


The list of record-tying 2, 3, 4, and 5-isogram sets (bisograms, trisograms, or more generally nIsograms) was augmented recently by a computer search of a database of isograms manually culled from Webster's Third. As with previous exercises, the words conform to Games Magazine criteria of acceptability. This particular database was weighted more heavily in favor of longer words, in an attempt to find the elusive 2x20 to go along with GUNPOWDERY BLACKSMITH. However, none was found! Though the database was large, it was by no means exhaustive; record-breaking specimens may yet exist.

The current results include minor variants on previous items, as well as a number of elegant new examples. Highlights include perhaps the most common 19-letter bisograms found so far (SYMPATHIZED WRONGFUL), a variety of interesting balanced 3x22s and 4x24s (such as PRONGBUCKS JAWSMITH FLEXY and WHIZBAND FROCKS VELDT JUMPY), as well as some near-miss attempts at the previously-unscaled heights of 2x21, 3x23, and 4x25. The list of 5x26s (that is, 5-word pangrams) has also been expanded. Known 2x19s now exist for all letter distributions from 15,4 (DERMATOGLYPHICS BUNK) to 10,9 (many examples). In the 3x22 list, all distri-butions are represented from 13,6,3 (THUMBSCREWING ALKOXY PDQ) to 8,7,7 (BACKVELD FROWSTY HUMPING) except for 13,5,4 and 12,5,5. 5x25s are shown leaving 9 different letters: B,F,G,J,M,Q,V,W,Z. Asterisked examples have been supplied by Jim Puder.

The challenge in presenting and making sense out of this "list of lists" has been to arrive at some reasonable conventions for grouping nIsograms and ordering the words within them. In order to show related entries grouped together, and separate more "satisfying" items from the crowd, various conventions have been used:

The previously-unpublished record-tying nIsograms are as follows:

High-quality 2x19s

bunchflowers     japygid       kmqtvxz   12,7
calyptrogen      dumbfish      jkqvwxz   11,8
campfight/s      underblow     jkqvxyz   10,9
carbethoxyls     jumping       dfkqvwz   12,7*
gatchworks       unmixedly     bfjpqvz   10,9
gunpowdery       backshift     jlmqvxz   10,9
gunpowdery       mahlstick     bfjqvxz   10,9
khidmutgar/s     benzoxyl      pfc,jqvw  11,8
lumberjack       downshift     pyx,gqvz  10,9
overjumping      flybacks      dhqtwxz   11,8
patchworks       unmixedly     bfgjqvz   10,9
providently      buckwash      fgjmqxz   11,8
providently      bushwack      fgjmqxz   11,8
pterygodum       blackfins     hjqvwxz   10,9*
sympathized      wrongful      bcjkqvx   11,8
throwbacks       unmixedly     fgjpqvz   10,9
thumpingly       beadworks     cfjqvxz   10,9
upthrowing       backvelds     fjmqxyz   10,9
zanthoxylum/s    jewbird       pfc,gkqv  12,7
High-quality 3x22s

backlight/ed   frown/s     jumpy     qvxz   11,6,5
backlight/s    overjump    wynd      fqxz   10,8,4
backsight      frowzl/ed   jumpy     nqvx   9,8,5
backveld       frowst/y    hump/ing  jqxz   8,7,7
backveld       frowst/y    jump/ing  hqxz   8,7,7
benzhydrol     puckfist    gawn      jqvx   10,8,4
campfight/s    benzoxyl    dukw      jqrv   10,8,4
fringepod/s    thwack      jumbly    qvxz   10,6,6
frumpishly     backdown    vext      jg,qz  10,8,4
humpback       frowzly     jesting   vd,qx  8,7,7*
humpback       frowzly     vesting   djqx   8,7,7*
humpbacks      frowzly     jinxed    qt,gv  9,7,6*
humpbacks      frowzly     vexing    qt,jd  9,7,6*
jackfruit/s    bedgown     lymph     qvxz   10,7,5
lumberjack     downshift   pyx       gqvz   10,9,3
nightcaps      frowzled    jumby     kqvx   9,8,5
nightfowls     vracked     bumpy     jqxz   10,7,5
nightfowls     vracked     jumpy     bqxz   10,7,5
patchwork/ed   jumbl/y     zing/s    fqvx   11,6,5
patchwork/s    delving     jumby     fqxz   10,7,5
patchworks     flexing     jumby     vd,qz  10,7,5
pitchforked    jumbly      vangs     qwxz,  11,6,5
prongbuck      jawsmith    flexy     vd,qz  10,7,5
prongbuck/s    mitzvah     flexy     djqw   10,7,5
prongbuck/s    mitzvah     wyled     fjqx   10,7,5
rockshaft      jumbl/ing   pyx/ed    qvwz   9,8,5
sprightful     backdown    zyme      jqvx   10,8,4
throwback/s    delving     jumpy     fqxz   10,7,5
throwback/s    dump/ing    flex/y    jqvz   10,7,5
throwbacks     flex/ing    jump/y    vd,qz  10,7,5
throwbacks     flumped     zingy     jqvx   10,7,5
throwbacks     jinxed      glumpy    fqvz   10,6,6
throwbacks     jumpingly   xed       fqvz   10,9,3
throwback/s    vexingly    jump      dfqz   10,8,4
throwback/s    vexingly    dump      fjqz   10,8,4
upgrowth/s     flyback     jinxed    mqvz   9,7,6
High-quality 4x24s, all words with vowels

backflow/s     jump/ing   dryth     vex      qz  9,7,5,3
backlight/s    frowzy     jump      vend     qx  10,6,4,4
backsight      frowzled   jynx      ump      qv  9,8,4,3
backsight      frowzled   jynx      vum      pq  9,8,4,3
blackfish      judgment   vrow      pyx      qz  9,8,4,3
boschvark      widget     flump     jynx     qz  9,6,5,4
campfight/s    bulked     jynx      vrow     qz  10,6,4,4
cymbling       kvutza     fjord     sphex    qw  8,6,5,5
cymbling/s     kvutza     fjord     phew     qx  8,7,5,4
jacklight/s    frowzy     bump      vend     qx  10,6,4,4
vexingly       fjord/s    thwack    bump     qz  8,6,6,4
patchworked    gulf       jynx      zimb     qv  11,4,4,4
strongback     fjeld      whump     vizy     qx  10,5,5,4
whizbang       frock/s    veldt     jumpy    qx  8,6,5,5
Vowelless words, 4x24s

schmaltz       jukebox    fringy    pdq      vw  8,7,6,3
schmaltz       jukebox    frying    pdq      vw  8,7,6,3
sketching      frowzly    jambu     pdq      vx  9,7,5,3
sketching      frowzy     jambul    pdq      vx  9,6,6,3
skutching      frowzly    jambe     pdq      vx  9,7,5,3
throwback/s    fuzing     xylem     pdq      jv  10,6,5,3
throwbacks     fumingly   vex       pdq      jz  10,8,3,3
thumbscrew     jok/ing    flax/y    pdq      vz  10,6,5,3
thumbscrewing  folky      zax       pdq      jv  13,5,3,3
thwackers      jumbling   foxy      pdq      vz  9,8,4,3
vetchling      sjambok    furzy     pdq      wx  9,7,5,3
vetchling/s    jambok     furzy     pdq      wx  10,6,5,3
vetchworms     fungibly   zax       pdq      jk  10,8,3,3
vetchworms     fungibly   jak       pdq      xz  10,8,3,3
vetchworms     fuzing     balky     pdq      jx  10,6,5,3
blacksmith     expugn     frowzy     vd      jq  10,6,6,2
humpback       frowzly    jesting    vd      qx  9,7,7,2*
jacketing/s    frowzly    bumph      vd      qx  10,7,5,2
patchwork/s    flexing    jumby      vd      qz  10,7,5,2
prongbuck      jawsmith   flexy      vd      qz  9,8,5,2
throwback/s    flex/ing   jump/y     vd      qz  10,7,5,2
High-quality 5x25s, all words with vowels

backveld/s     fritz      whump      jynx    go    q  9,5,5,4,2
droplight/s    beck       jynx       waqf    vum   q  10,4,4,4,3
mitzvah/s      fjeld      grown      buck    pyx   q  8,5,5,4,3
mitzvah/s      fjeld      wrong      buck    pyx   q  8,5,5,4,3
mitzvah/s      fjeld      wrung      bock    pyx   q  8,5,5,4,3
sawbuck        fjord      lymph      zing    vext  q  7,5,5,4,4
Vowelless words, 5x25s

kvutzah/s      boring     fjeld      pyx      cwm   q  8,6,5,3,3
kvutzah        boxing     fjeld      spry     cwm   q  7,6,5,4,3
kvutzah/s      boxing     fjeld      pry      cwm   q  8,6,5,3,3
backflow/s     zither     jynx       vum      pdq   g  9,6,4,3,3
backflow/s     zither     jynx       guv,vug  pdq   m  9,6,4,3,3
backflow/s     zither     jynx       mug,gum  pdq   v  9,6,4,3,3
backflow/s     zythum     ring,grin  vex      pdq   j  9,6,4,3,3
backlight/s    fuze       jynx       vrow     pdq   m  10,4,4,4,3
backlight/s    vrouw      jynx       fem      pdq   z  10,5,4,3,3
blacksmith     fuze       jynx       vrow     pdq   g  10,4,4,4,3
boxingly       crwth/s    kuvasz     fem      pdq   j  8,6,6,3,3
bricklow/s     zythum     fang       vex      pdq   j  9,6,4,3,3
flockmaster    jynx       whiz       guv,vug  pdq   b  11,4,4,3,3
flockmaster    jynx       vugh       biz      pdq   w  11,4,4,3,3
flockmaster    jynx       vugh       wiz      pdq   b  11,4,4,3,3
gatchwork/s    flexy      zimb       jun      pdq   v  10,5,4,3,3
gatchwork/s    flue,fuel  jynx       zimb     pdq   v  10,4,4,4,3
jukebox        crwths     mazing     fly      pdq   v  7,6,6,3,3
jukebox        crwths     fling      mazy     pdq   v  7,6,5,4,3
jukebox        crwths     flavin     gym      pdq   z  7,6,6,3,3
rockshaft      zimbel     jynx       guv,vug  pdq   w  9,6,4,3,3
schmaltzy      vibex      fork       gunj     pdq   w  9,5,4,4,3
schmaltzy      vibex      work       gunj     pdq   f  9,5,4,4,3
throwback/s    flex/y     zing       vum      pdq   j  10,5,4,3,3
throwback/s    flexy      gunj       vim      pdq   z  10,5,4,3,3
throwback/s    zymin      flex       guv,vug  pdq   j  10,5,4,3,3
throwback/s    zymin      gulf       vex      pdq   j  10,5,4,3,3
thumbscrew     flog,golf  kiva       jynx     pdq   z  10,4,4,4,3
thumbscrew     folk       jynx       vagi,viga pdq  z  10,4,4,4,3
vetchworm/s    fix/y      gunj       balk,klab pdq  z  10,4,4,4,3
vexingly       schwarz    bumf       jot      pdq   k  8,7,4,3,3
whizbang       flock/s    jury       vext     pdq   m  8,6,4,4,3
whizbang       freckly    jot/s      vum      pdq   x  8,7,4,3,3
wingback/s     thujyl     form,from  vex      pdq   z  9,6,4,3,3
backswing      thujyl     form,from  vex      pdq   z  9,6,4,3,3
wingback/s     zythum     flor       vex      pdq   j  9,6,4,3,3
backswing      zythum     flor       vex      pdq   j  9,6,4,3,3
wrathful       gemsbok    jynx       vic      pdq   z  8,7,4,3,3
xanthism       frowzly    beck       guv,vug  pdq   j  8,7,4,3,3
zubrowka/s     flitch,flicht jynx    gem,meg  pdq   v  9,6,4,3,3
jacklight/s    frowze     numb       pyx      vd    q  10,6,4,3,2
patchwork/s    flexy      gunj       zimb     vd    q  10,5,4,4,2
patchwork/s    zimbel     jynx       fug      vd    q  10,6,4,3,2
throwback/s    flex/y     jump       zing     vd    q  10,5,4,4,2
Vowelless words, 5x26s
blacksmith     frowzy     gunj       vex      pdq   10,6,4,3,3
humbling       frowzy     jacks      vext     pdq   8,6,5,4,3
jacklight/s    frowzy     numb       vex      pdq   10,6,4,3,3
jumbling       frowzy     hacks,shack vext    pdq   8,6,5,4,3
skutch/ing     frowzly    jamb       vex      pdq   9,7,4,3,3

Finally, here are some near-misses of various sizes.

2x21  bumperjacks (not in Web), downflight ('upflight' in Web)
2x20  bumperjacks (not in Web), downlight
2x20  bumperjacks (not in Web), nightfowl
2x20  thumbscrewing, poklady (Czech 'treasures')
2x20  cymographs, unblitxzed (like a well-protected quarterback?)
2x20  explicandums ('explicanda' in Web), growthy
2x20  flyspecking, badmouth (not in Web 3)
2x20  kymograph, unblitzed (see above)
3x23  cymbling/s, kvutzah, Wexford (usu cap in Web 3)
3x23  humpbacked, frowzly, vingts (French 'twenties')
3x23  humpbacks, veldting (just wishful thinking!), frowzy
3x22  kvetching (not in Web 3), frowzly, jambus
3x22  kvetching (see above), jambuls, frowzy
4x25  kvetching (see above), jambuls, frowzy, pdq
4x25  kvetching (see above), frowzly, jambus, pdq
5x25  zemstvo (in OSPD only), jingly, wharf, buck, pdq

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