Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Dec 23, 2017 in CRPS / RSD | 2 comments

Word ladder puzzle (23.12.2017)

Word ladder puzzle (23.12.2017)

Did you know that Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland and many other books, also liked to create puzzles? He’s credited with inventing a type of puzzle called a word ladder, like this one(1), back in 1877:

Image of a word puzzle created by Lewis Carroll

Image: Lewis Carroll Center

I also like to create puzzles, so gave myself a challenge this year – to try to create a word ladder puzzle. There are only a few days left of 2017, so I set some time aside today to try this. It turned out to be harder than I thought, especially because I wanted to make a puzzle for adults; one that’s a bit more difficult!

In the children’s version above, by Lewis Carroll, the puzzle starts with “Cat” and ends with “Dog”; the 2 words in the middle would have been left blank (I posted the solution page). The child doing the puzzle had to change 1 letter on the next rung – or step – of the ladder, to create a new word, which would get closer to the word “Dog”. Then do the same on the next step.

My version follows the same idea, but you have to change 2 letters of the word on each step. That’s what makes it harder. And the words are longer. Because it’s a more challenging puzzle, I’ve added clues; scroll down to the bottom of the page/post if you need them. There are 2 clues for each step of the word ladder puzzle. Try with the first clue, and then use the second clue if you need it. I’ll post the solution next month.

Each of Lewis Carroll’s word ladder puzzles usually had a theme; it would start & end with words that were related to each other in some way. My puzzle starts with the word “Hawthorn”, a type of thorny shrub or tree; some kinds of hawthorn have thorns up to 8 cm (3″) long! It ends with “Regional”, for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. So the theme of my word ladder is… pain.

Word ladder instructions:

  • The words on the top & bottom of the ladder stay the same
  • If you don’t want to print the puzzle image, use a piece of scrap paper to write down your word ideas & tries
  • On step 2 of the ladder, change 2 letters from the word on step 1 to create a new word; your goal is to get from the word “hawthorn” to the word “regional” in just 2 steps
  • Scramble the letters to create  the new word; change the order of the letters on each step
  • For step 3 of the ladder, do the same thing; change 2 letters from the new word on step 2 and scramble the letters to make a new word
  • Your goal is to be able to then change 2 letters (and scramble the letters) of the word on step 3, to get to the word on step 4 of the ladder
  • Good luck!
image of a word ladder puzzle

Image: Sandra Woods on iStockPhoto background


(1) Lewis Carroll Centre & All Saints Daresbury PCC. (Word) Ladders. 2011. Web:

Clue number 1

Step 2: First clue = A painful Olympic sport, for runners

Step 3: First clue = Able to make sense of things, to figure things out


Clue number two

Step 3: Second clue = A long-distance running sport

Step 3: Second clue = The opposite of irrational; also a type of number

I’ll post the solution to the word ladder puzzle next month!


  1. This blog is brilliant! I shared with a friend who has this health problem. She has trouble explaining it.

  2. Just found your blog and really like the puzzles! Great pix too.

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *