Article Title



Tom Pulliam


Take a word (for example, MUSIC), shift each letter n steps along the alphabet arranged in a circle with A following Z (for example, M eight steps to U, U eight steps to C, S eight steps to A, I eight steps to Q, C eight steps to K), and rearrange the resulting letters to form another word (for example, UCAQK to QUACK). Howard Bergerson, writing under a pseudonym, christened QUACK a shiftgram of MUSIC in "Sea-Changed Words" in the February 1969 Word Ways. Multiple shiftgrams are possible; however, the theoretical maximum of 26 shiftgrams of a word is impossible to achieve for words of four or fewer letters because of the paucity of vowels, and equally impossible for words of five or more letters because of the sparseness of words. Transpositions are special cases of shiftgrams when the number n of steps equals zero, and alphabetic letter shifts are special cases of shiftgrams when the final arrangement of letters is unnecessary.