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Unix Dict/grep Solves Left-Side-of-Keyboard Puzzle 423

Posted by timothy
from the mysteries-of-the-ages dept.
destinyland writes "For decades, people have been asking this brain teaser: 'What's the longest word you can type with only the left-hand letters on a keyboard?' The answer is supposed to be 'stewardesses,' but grepping the standard dictionary that ships with Unix reveals a much better answer. There's nearly 2,000 shorter words that can typed with only the left hand — including one word that's even longer. (The article also quotes a failed novel attempt using nothing but words typed on the keyboard's left side.)"
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Unix Dict/grep Solves Left-Side-of-Keyboard Puzzle

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  • what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323)
    This should be in idle... I don't see why it should be on the front page.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jacquesm (154384)

      My thoughts exactly, I was wondering if I had somehow enabled the idle section by accident again.

      And anybody that learned about grep the first time reading this article should hand in their geek card ;)

      • Re:what? (Score:5, Funny)

        by MaxwellEdison (1368785) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:55PM (#25839113)
        Technology is the new idle. The hope is we will make ourselves seem like a bunch of confused Luddites when we start tagging things technologyispants.

        With the added benefit of confusing Haggar's advertising exec's about to roll out their new campaign, "Pants is technology!" with an adorable Russian Blue cat for a spokesperson.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          Ok...to be semi-technical.

          Technically...where on the keyboard does it stop being the left side, and start being considered the right side of the keyboard?

          Frankly, I don't see a set dividing line....? Nothing is really centered.

    • by iamapizza (1312801) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:56PM (#25839125)
      databases were devertebrated after stewardesses were watered
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LingNoi (1066278)

      What I don't understand is how the article is about using the left side of the keyboard yet the photo they have shows someone typing on the ride side.. (=_=)

  • Nice summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gardyloo (512791) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:43PM (#25838987)

    There's nearly 2,000 shorter words that can typed with only the left hand -- including one word that's even longer.

    Ganz falsch!

  • The answer to an age old OS/2 puzzle : how many double clicks can you make on a mouse with your left big toe while typing repeatedly antidisestablishmentarianism.

  • The answer is (Score:5, Informative)

    by ConanG (699649) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:47PM (#25839029)
    Devertebrated

    Link to the original article next time!
  • Misleading summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JonathanBoyd (644397) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:49PM (#25839053) Homepage

    The longest word isn't found in the 'a much better answer' link, but rather the other one, somewhat misleadingly. The word, in case you're interested, is supposed to be 'devertebrated', though the Oxford English Dictionary doesn't recognise it.

    There's nearly 2,000 shorter words that can typed with only the left hand -- including one word that's even longer.

    How exactly can shorter words include a longer one?

    • by svnt (697929) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:07PM (#25839271)

      This is such an obvious blog spam by this guy that it is painful.

      Both blog entries (one completely redundant to mask the referrals), are authored by "Moe Zilla" (painfully lame pseudonym, btw) whose "ultimate goal is to earn money online while writing about whatever I want," [helium.com] and whose writing style has the exact same defects as those in the summary.

      Give up dude, your high school English teach was right: you suck.

    • 'devertebrated', though the Oxford English Dictionary doesn't recognise it.

      If we're making up words, pretty sure 'redevertebrated' must be the longest word... you know, those vertebrates that had their spine removed in a freak command-line accident involving grep then surgically reimplanted.

    • by blake182 (619410) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:39PM (#25839673)

      The longest word isn't found in the 'a much better answer' link, but rather the other one, somewhat misleadingly. The word, in case you're interested, is supposed to be 'devertebrated', though the Oxford English Dictionary doesn't recognise it.

      ~$ uname -rs
      Darwin 9.5.1
      ~$ grep "^[asdfgqwertzxcvb]\{13,\}$" /usr/share/dict/words
      aftercataract
      devertebrated
      tesseradecade

      Someone with an OED can feel free to check them.

      • by Rary (566291) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:52PM (#25841275)

        A "tesseradecade" is a group of fourteen. Not only that, it can be pluralized by adding an "s", which happens to also be on the left side of the keyboard, and which brings the letter count to... fourteen. Therefore, "tesseradecades" is a tesseradecade of letters on the left side of the standard Qwerty keyboard.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Per Wigren (5315)

          Then a tesseradecader must be something which divide things into groups of fourteen and those who make the tesseradecaders are called tesseradecaderers.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:50PM (#25839067)

    ...type http://www.uniform/ [www.uniform] fetish.com/pics/stewardesses/ with one hand.

  • Apparently that's the word, but I had to read the article's comments to figure it out. Is it just me or is it NOT in the summary, article, or article linked from the article?
    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      Is it just me or is it NOT in the summary, article, or article linked from the article?

      It's just you. It's towards the bottom of the first linked article.

  • Didn't work here (Score:4, Informative)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:52PM (#25839095)

    $grep -i '^[qwertasdfgzxcvb]\{12,\}$' /usr/share/dict/words
    aftereffects
    desegregated
    desegregates
    reverberated
    reverberates
    stewardesses

    Stewardesses is still unsurpassed on my box. (But maybe it's because "GNU's not Unix", so I have a different dictionary file.)

    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:55PM (#25839121)

      The longest word I got was 'redrawerredrawers', which probably indicates that my wordfile is corrupted.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JonathanBoyd (644397)

      Stewardesses is still unsurpassed on my box. (But maybe it's because "GNU's not Unix", so I have a different dictionary file.)

      Whatever dictionary that comes with Mac OS X 10.4 returns 3 words with 13 letters:
      aftercataract
      devertebrated
      tesseradecade

      • And googling tesseradecade (it's strangely fun typing large words with only your left hand :D ) points out that you can pluralise it as tesseradecades..

        • by interiot (50685)
          Actually, you're only using your left four fingers. If you include your thumb in the fun, you can type every word (demo [half-qwerty.com], a free version [autohotkey.com])
          • by Jerf (17166)

            You can perform all possible computer inputs with one (binary, yes/no) button, the right software, and a heaping helping of patience. "How much can we shrink the keyboard and still enter text" is not an interesting game.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lendrick (314723)

      Interestingly enough, the longest word that can be typed with the *other* half of the keyboard, which as a lot less letters, is "phyllophyllin" -- one letter longer than "stewardesses". Check this out:

      $ grep -i '^[yuiophjklnm]\{12,\}$' /usr/share/dict/words
      hypophyllium
      miminypiminy
      phyllophyllin

      Mind you, I don't know what any of those mean. :)

    • by prockcore (543967)

      Why doesn't anyone ever check for the righthand?
      I get "polyphony" as the longest.. although to be fair, I usually type "y" with my left hand.

    • yields
      • aftercataract
      • devertebrated
      • gazetteerage
      • reasseverate
      • terracewards
      • tessaradecad
      • tesseradecade
    • by jdb2 (800046) *
      Same results here.

      grep -i -E '^[qwertasdfgzxcvb]{12,}$' /usr/share/dict/words gives the same results that you posted.

      For reference I'm running Kubuntu 8.04 Hardy.

      jdb2
    • Okupukupu! (Score:5, Funny)

      by IdahoEv (195056) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:47PM (#25839751) Homepage

      The longest word I can type with my left hand [wikipedia.org] is "okupukupu", you QWERTY-using insensitive clods!

      [15:44:56] ~$ grep -i '^[pyaoeuiqjkx]\{14,\}$' /usr/share/dict/words
      [15:44:58] ~$ grep -i '^[pyaoeuiqjkx]\{13,\}$' /usr/share/dict/words
      [15:45:04] ~$ grep -i '^[pyaoeuiqjkx]\{12,\}$' /usr/share/dict/words
      [15:45:07] ~$ grep -i '^[pyaoeuiqjkx]\{11,\}$' /usr/share/dict/words
      [15:45:12] ~$ grep -i '^[pyaoeuiqjkx]\{10,\}$' /usr/share/dict/words
      [15:45:16] ~$ grep -i '^[pyaoeuiqjkx]\{9,\}$' /usr/share/dict/words
      okupukupu

    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:51PM (#25839789) Homepage Journal

      uh huh. Ya know why the unix dictionary file doesn't contain every word in the english language? Because it can't. It's a productive system. There's an infinite number of words.

      For example, 'desegregated' means something like: something was segregated and now it isn't. And segregated means that, some time in the past, someone decided to segregate. If they decide to do that again, well then it's resegregated. And what happens to it when you undo that segregation? You get deresegregated. What happens if they decide to segregate again? reresegregated? then dereresegregated? Is there a limit? No. Language is awesome.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fishbowl (7759)

        It's not just in simple suffix and prefix usage, either. There are modifier forms that are legal, if perhaps slightly archaic, that while correct will not have explicit entries in a dictionary. I once had a big argument about the word "schedular", in the sense of "make sure you tend to your schedular duties." It's complicated, because it's an etymological principle that allows it, and even though I am right, I lost the argument because "schedular" had no entry in the dictionary the other person was using

      • by Abreu (173023)

        The fact that you can torture the English language that way doesn't mean that you should

        Disclaimer: I am not a grammar nazi, just a concerned journalism student

    • This is the SOWPODS international scrabble tournament dictionary
      % egrep '^[qwertasdfgzxcvb]{12,}$' /usr/local/share/scrabble
      abracadabras
      aftereffects
      decerebrated
      decerebrates
      desegregated
      desegregates
      extravagated
      extravagates
      extravasated
      extravasates
      reaggregated
      reaggregates
      resegregated
      resegregates
      reverberated
      reverberates
      stewardesses
      sweaterdress
      sweaterdresses
      watercresses
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Thanks for the code. This is what you can type on the home row:

      Dvorak:
      2-11 letters: 3358 words
      12: 54 words
      13: 24 words
      14: 14 words
      15: 5 words
      16: 2 words
      17: 2 words
      18: 1 word

      Qwerty:
      2-11 letters: 202 words
      12: 0 words.
      -
      uname -a
      Darwin maclappy 9.5.1 Darwin Kernel Version 9.5.1: Fri Sep 19 16:19:24 PDT 2008; root:xnu-1228.8.30~1/RELEASE_I386 i386 i386 MacBookPro5,1 Darwin

  • by musth (901919) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:54PM (#25839109)

    This has been known to logologists for years as the "best" answer to this puzzle. I believe it's from Webster's 2nd or 3rd Unabridged.

  • by sxltrex (198448) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:00PM (#25839185)

    From the article:

    Technically, the word "reverberated" is just as long, and so is "desegregated" - but they're sometimes disqualified because they require using the past tense.

    So past tense is disqualified but plural is ok? What official body is making up these rules?

  • One would think that there would be some love for us with a preference for a more efficient keyboard layout...
    • Given that there are alternate left-hand-only and right-hand-only variants of Dvorak, you can technically type any word entirely with either hand.

    • I use Dvorak too, here's your lovin: [wikipedia.org]

      On a Dvorak keyboard, the longest "left-handed" words are papaya, Kikuyu, opaque, and upkeep.[19] Kikuyu is typed entirely with the index finger, and so the longest one-fingered word on the Dvorak keyboard. There are no vowels on the right-hand side, and so the longest "right-handed" word is crwth.

  • by laddiebuck (868690) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:11PM (#25839315)
    Personally, I'm much more likely to type "stewardesses" into a search engine when I need to use only one hand... for whatever reason.
  • Once there was a TV show that you needed to guess the word by only a few letters revealed. I used dict/grep and found the answer but couldn't dial in. Some XXX dollars I lost!

  • C:\Documents and Settings\The MAZZTer>grep -i '^[yuiophjklnm]\{9,\}$' H:/usr/share/dict/words
    Houyhnhnm
    polyphony
  • Honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Orlando (12257) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:16PM (#25839405) Homepage

    who cares?

  • by Eil (82413)

    Fixes or solves?

  • Woah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by nog_lorp (896553) * on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:25PM (#25839515)

    There's nearly 2,000 shorter words that can typed with only the left hand â" including one word that's even longer.

    Wait, there is a word that is both shorter and longer than "stewardesses"?

  • You want me to click through two idiotic blogs to read about how someone did a grep -iv [yuiophjklnm] /usr/share/dict/words | wc -L? Just, wow, freaking story of the year, right there! If ever there was a time that putting the damn word in the summary would save some wasted clicks...

    Also, what happened to 'tesseradecade'? The plural is 14 letters. (Look at that, I have grep too!)
  • Most of my passwords use the left side of the keyboard, though not actual dictionary words like in the article. I found that it is much easier to enter a password using only my left hand when trying to hold a laptop with my right hand when I am in an area where there isn't a convenient place to place a laptop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ameline (771895)
      I think you're holding something *else* in your right hand, and that these "passwords" are for porn sites.
  • "There's nearly 2,000 shorter words"

    Ironically, the word "are" can be typed with the left hand....

    This being slashdot, and your mouse occupying your right hand, I'll just draw the obvious conclusion.

  • First thing i noticed when i went to the page was that the picture is showing a *right* hand on the *right* side of the keyboard... and carries the subscript "One word uses 12 keys from the left side of the keyboard."

    Wonder what side of the brain was working there... ;)

  • $ grep -i "^a*b*c*d*e*f*g*h*i*j*k*l*m*n*o*p*q*r*s*t*u*v*w*x*y*z*$" /usr/share/dict/words | perl -ne 's/\n//; print length($_); print " $_\n";' | sort | tail -10
    6 ghosty
    6 glossy
    6 knoppy
    6 knotty
    7 Adelops
    7 alloquy
    7 beefily
    7 begorry
    7 billowy
    7 egilops

    Guess my dictionary doesn't have "aegilops".

  • I use a Dvorak Keyboard you insensitive clods!

  • I guess the author has ESL. 'Reverberates' uses only left-hand letters and is not past tense, so it would be the equal of 'stewardesses' (it's also not politically incorrect).

    "Devertebrated" is as stupid as "deevolved."

  • Funny (for me) that this should come up today. After typing the AutoCAD command 3DFACE (also all with the left hand) I found myself wondering something else: What's the longest English word/command/whatever-strikes-you that can be typed on a calculator in hexadecimal mode?

    FACED is five digits, FACADE and DECADE are six, ACCEDED and EFFACED are seven. Anything longer? (Make your own rules, but to me using zero for O or one for I is cheating.)

  • by AcquaCow (56720) <acquacowNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:29PM (#25840185) Homepage

    In the "Stupid QWERTY Tricks" section of his site, he lists all of the words that you can type on the left/right hand side of the keyboard...

    http://interglacial.com/~sburke/pub/stupid_qwerty_tricks.html [interglacial.com]

    He published all of that online in 1998...
    (1998-09-21)

    In comparison, the longest Dvorak word, typed with only the left hand is: "upkeep" ...not that that has anything to do with the efficiency of Dvorak...

    The other Dvorak word lists are far more interesting:
    http://interglacial.com/~sburke/pub/stupid_dvorak_tricks.html [interglacial.com]

      -- Dave

  • So I guess it's time for another stupid/useful tricks post, this time for /usr/share/dict. You could use it to make a list of english-seeming words (that get people really confused when piped through 'festival --tts'), similar to this one:

    http://user.interface.org.nz/~gringer/montyword.php [interface.org.nz]

    [okay, that's derived from IRC logs... I should probably change that to /usr/share/dict]

  • extraterrestials FTW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by atomic-penguin (100835) <.wolfe21. .at. .marshall.edu.> on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:44AM (#25846201) Homepage Journal

    I RTFA and didn't find any mention of this supposed word, anywhere. So I ran my own grep on the dictionary.

    Left hand results:

    egrep '[abcdefgqrstvwxz]{12,}' /usr/share/dict/words
    winner: extraterrestrials

    Right hand results:

    egrep "[hijklmnopuy'-]{9,}" /usr/share/dict/words
    winner: polyphony's

    Top row results

    egrep '[qwertyuiop]{11,}' /usr/share/dict/words
    winner: teletypewriter's

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