ladder -- find words which can be made from a string of letters


ladder [-w wordlist] [-a] start-word end-word max-length [bad-word ...]


ladder solves word ladders. A word ladder is a progression from one word to another, changing exactly one letter per step. Each intermediate step must also be a word. For example; dog cog cot cat.

Given the start word, the end word, and the maximum allowed length, ladder will output a ladder between the two words. ladder produces no output if it is unable to find a ladder within the maximum length. The start and stop word must be the same length.

A list of bad words may be specified after the other arguments. ladder will avoid using any of those words in the solution.


ladder accepts the following options:

-w wordlist
By default, ladder looks for a word file named 'wordlist' in the same directory as the executable. Use the -w option to specify the path to an alternate word list.

By default, ladder stops at the first solution it finds. With -a, ladder will continue to find all solutions of the same length as the first.


The list of words, found with the executable.

For a comprehensive word list, the author recommends the ENABLE word list, with more than 172,000 words, which can be found at


This implementation of ladder has no known bugs.


ladder was written by Ronald J Kimball,


This program is copyright 2001 by Ronald J Kimball.

This program is free and open software. You may use, modify, or distribute this program (and any modified variants) in any way you wish, provided you do not restrict others from doing the same.