How to solve an anagram?

How to solve an anagram

Anagrams are the result of rearranging the letters of a word into a different word or a seeming jumble of letters. It is a linguistic method often employed in word games but also as a fun strategy to create names and new terms or to hide certain messages. That is why learning how to solve an anagram can be a good skill to have.

Not only can this knowledge give you a heads up in word games such as Scrabble, Crosswords, WordConnect, Words with Friends, and Word Hurdle, among many others, but it can also help you open up your mind to new discoveries and revelations. Had Harry Potter been good at solving anagrams, he would not have spent almost a full book to discover that Tom Riddle was an anagram of I am Voldemort. 

Look for common prefixes and suffixes

A good way to solve anagrams is to break them down into parts whenever possible. The most efficient way to do so is by looking for common beginning and/or endings. 

For example, if the anagram contains the letters G - I - N, then there is a higher chance that the hidden word (the subject of the anagram) ends in -ing since this is a very common ending in the English language. By eliminating these letters as an ending, it will be easier to move the remaining ones around and try to join them with the final -ing.

Bear in mind that this is a process of trial and error. Just because the anagram contains the letters G-I-N it does not mean that the subject will end in -ing, only that there is a very high chance of that.

The most common suffixes in English are -ing and -ed. As for suffixes, keep your eyes open for words beginning with un-, re-, and in-.

Write the letters in a circle

When the anagram is written in a straight line, the brain tends to “read” it as it is. In other words, it is more difficult to ignore certain pairs of letters and their pronunciation and mentally shuffle the letters trying to find other combinations.

However, if you write the anagram in a circle, those problems are solved. The brain is no longer stuck and focused on a pattern. It becomes easier to look for other combinations. The brain can try to follow the letters clockwise, counterclockwise, try a zigzag movement, etc.

In games like Scrabble and Words with Friends, having the letters lined up on a rack is part of the difficulty of the game. However, other word games like Word of Wonders or WordConnect already used the circle method to prompt the players to find more words using the displayed letters.

Focus on the consonants

Consonants form the basic structure of any word and even your brain knows it. Therefore, if you want to solve an anagram you should be taking advantage of those basic structures and this subconscious knowledge. For example:

Nglsh wrds mst hv vwls, bt rdng thm wtht vwls s pssbl.

Looking at this sentence from a logical point of view, it is utter nonsense. However, more likely than not, you were able to read and interpret it as “English words must have vowels, but reading them without vowels is possible.”

That is because your brain recognized the structure of the words and mentally filled in the gaps with the absent vowels.

When trying to solve an anagram you can try the same trick. Remove the vowels and shuffle the consonants around. Maybe a Eureka moment is only a shuffle away.

Match common pairs…

Another way of approaching solving anagrams is by separating the letters into common pairings. For example, excluding some very rare exceptions, a Q is almost always followed by a U. If you happen to find those two on the anagram, pair them together right away. If there is a Q but not a U, then the list of possible solutions for that anagram just got a little shorter.

Other common pairs of letters include SH, CH, PH, TH, or NG, for instance.

… and break uncommon ones

This strategy to solve anagrams can be useful in all situations, but the smaller the word, the more effective it is. You might even be using it already without knowing it in word games such as Wordle and Word Hurdle.

Let us say that you have the letters J and W in your anagram. There are only two words in English with the pair WJ and none with JW. You know right away that it is extremely unlikely that these letters go together. It follows that you should break the pair and play around with the remaining trying to put the remaining letters between them.

Increase your vocabulary

Having a vast and rich vocabulary is fundamental to solving anagrams. If you are unable to recognize the word hidden in the anagram, shuffling the letters around is completely useless. 

Reading, be it a book, a newspaper, or a blog, can help you build up your vocabulary. You may also try a more methodical approach and use a word unscrambler like this one to learn new words by their beginning letter, their ending letter, or by length.

Use an anagram solver

When everything fails or when you simply do not have the time to play around with the letters to find the hidden word, you can always use an anagram solver like the one we offer.

It is free and intuitive to use. All you have to do is to type in the letters on your anagram and our tool will immediately retrieve all the words that can be built with them. You also have an advanced search option if you want to search for words starting or ending with specific letters.

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