# Solve the New York Times Spelling Bee

The New York Times periodically runs a puzzle they call the "Spelling Bee" in which they list six "allowed" letters plus one "mandatory" letter and challenge the reader to form as many five-letter-or-longer dictionary words as possible out of those letters. Each "allowed" letter can appear 0 or more times. The mandatory letter must appear at least once in each word. No other letters are allowed. Proper nouns are not acceptable answers.

For example, in last week's puzzle, the allowed letters were {"A", "C", "D", "H", "I", and "R"}, while the mandatory letter was "N".

The more words you find, the higher the Times rates your intelligence. Your challenge: write a solver in the language of your choice.

1. If your programming environment or operating system provides a list of words, you may use it. If not, you must include code for loading a word list from disk or the internet; you can not assume it has been magically loaded into a variable outside your code.

2. The word list should be generic, not limited to only those words that contain the mandatory letter, and not limited to words that meet the length or other requirements here. In other words, all dictionary searches should be done by your code, not some pre-processor.

3. If a word is capitalized in the dictionary, treat it as a proper noun. If your dictionary does not distinguish proper nouns, find a different dictionary.

4. Different dictionaries will deliver different sets of answers, but given the test case above, you must return at least 20 qualifying answers, and the words "harridan", "niacin", and "circadian" must be on it. The words "Diana", "Adrian", and "India", as proper nouns, must not be.

5. Your code should take the form of a function or program that accepts two variables: a string or list of characters representing the allowed letters, and a character representing the required letter. It should return a list of allowed answers in any order.

6. Except to the extent my rules here dictate otherwise, standard loopholes are forbidden.

7. In the event my rule summary here deviates from the rules at the New York Times, follow the rules here.

8. Shortest byte count wins, though I plan to call out excellent solutions using novel algorithms or that are otherwise interesting to me, assuming any such are submitted.

• I might recommend just specifying the appropriate wordlist and its file name, a la "Let's Play Hangman". – briantist Feb 26 '17 at 0:33
• Also the standard here is to allow a program or function, why is this limited to a function specifically? – briantist Feb 26 '17 at 0:35
• "you can not assume it has been magically loaded into a variable outside your code" - how about just accepting a list of words as an input to the (program or) function? – Jonathan Allan Feb 26 '17 at 0:58
• The word india is also the code word for the letter I in international radio communication, and hence not a proper noun, so could be listed in the dictionary as such (CSW has it for example and that has no proper nouns). – Jonathan Allan Feb 26 '17 at 3:06
• @briantist I suppose a program that follows the other rules would be fine. I will modify the terms accordingly. – Michael Stern Feb 26 '17 at 4:17

# bash/dash/ash with grep and egrep, 31 30 29 bytes

egrep ^[$1$2]\{5,}$z|grep$2


This assumes you have a a word list in a file named z. The word list I used was kindly provided by briantist.

Example:

$echo 'egrep ^[$1$2]\{5,}$ z|grep $2' > program; chmod +x program$ ./program acdhir n | tr '\n' ' '
acarian acaridan acini ahind anana anarch anarchic arachnid arachnidan arcana arnica cairn canard cancan candid candida canid canna cannach caranna carina chain characin chicana china chinar chinch cinch circadian cnida cnidarian cranch crania dharna diarian dinar dinic drain handcar harridan inarch indican indicia indri iridian nadir naiad naira nanna niacin nicad rachidian radian ranarian ranch rancid randan ricin

• I'm no bash expert, but do you need that space between the opening { and grep? – briantist Feb 26 '17 at 3:29
• Also note the rule changes, and the subsequent changes I made to the wordlist. – briantist Feb 26 '17 at 4:45
• @briantist I tried, and apparently I do. However, if it can be an entire program, I can just put it into a file... – zgrep Feb 26 '17 at 6:43
• I'm not sure this solution (while awesomely short) meets the spec. By my reading, all result words have to be at least five letters long, but this one outputs words like "an", which are too short. – Tutleman Feb 26 '17 at 14:47
• Oh, whoops. Didn't see that, sorry. – zgrep Feb 26 '17 at 23:27

# PowerShell, 50444139 43 bytes

param($a,$m)gc z|sls $m|sls "^[$a$m]{5,9}$"


## Notes

• Using a scriptblock (unnamed function) because there's still a requirement for a function full program.
• Takes the "allowed" letters as a single string.
• Using The English Open Word List which is provided as a series of lists (one for each letter). I've combined them all into a single file named z, but I only included words that are between 5 and 9 letters, inclusive due to the new rule, the wordlist and my gist have been updated to not exclude any of the original words (of any size). Here's the list, for anyone else to use.

Reads the wordlist file z as lines and does two regular expression matches (by way of Select-String with the sls alias). The first sls matches the mandatory letter, so the result is all the words that contain the letter, then that gets piped into the second sls which uses an expression that, in the case of the example input, looks like this: ^[acdhirn]{5,9}$ (so it matches only words that consist of those letters and no others, between 5 and 9 characters in length, inclusive). ## Invocation and Output &{param($a,$m)gc z|sls$m|sls ^[$a$m]+$} 'acdhir' 'n'  Output (57 words): acarian acaridan acini ahind anana anarch anarchic arachnid arcana arnica cairn canard cancan candid candida canid canna cannach caranna carina chain characin chicana china chinar chinch cinch circadian # cnida cnidarian cranch crania dharna diarian dinar dinic drain handcar harridan # inarch indican indicia indri iridian nadir naiad naira nanna niacin # nicad rachidian radian ranarian ranch rancid randan ricin  • See spec clarification, please don't assume the dictionary has been pre-processed to remove short words. – Michael Stern Feb 26 '17 at 4:35 • @MichaelStern you just added that; you should make it clearer from the beginning. Specifying a specific wordlist as I suggested also would have made this point moot. I don't care much since it only adds 6 bytes to my answer, but now you've got 3 existing answers written with the old rule. – briantist Feb 26 '17 at 4:38 • I agree, it would have been better if I had thought to specify it originally. – Michael Stern Feb 26 '17 at 4:39 • @MichaelStern code and wordlist have been updated. – briantist Feb 26 '17 at 4:45 # Mathematica, 143 130 bytes Join@@StringCases[Join@@StringCases[WordList[],RegularExpression["^["<>#2<>#<>"]{5,9}$"]],RegularExpression["\w+(?="<>#<>")\w+"]]&


## Invocation (with input)

Join@@StringCases[Join@@StringCases[WordList[],RegularExpression["^["<>#2<>#<>"]{5,9}$"]],RegularExpression["\w+(?="<>#<>")\w+"]]&["n","acdhir"]  ## Output (20 words) {"anarchic", "arachnid", "cairn", "canard", "cancan", "candid", "candida", "chain", "china", "cinch", "circadian", "cnidarian", "dinar", "drain", "handcar", "harridan", "niacin", "radian", "ranch", "rancid"}  ### Explanation Join@@ // Shortened version of Flatten; removes {} from StringCases lists StringCases[ // Find substrings in a string/list that match a regex pattern. Join@@ StringCases[ WordList[], // Built-in function; returns a list of English words. RegularExpression[ "^["<>#2<>#<>"]{5,9}$"    // Take the WordList, and find 5-9 letter
// words with any character in the
// the first or second arguments.
// In this case, "x" would be "achdir",
// and "y" is the letter "n".
// <> is for string concatenation.
]
],
RegularExpression[
"\w+(?="<>#<>")\w+"              // Take the result from the previous
// StringCases function, and find words
// that actually have the character(s) in
// the second argument in them.
// In this case, find words that actually
// have the letter "n" in them.
]
]
&    // Define an anonymous function.
["n","acdhir"]    // Pass arguments to the function; "#" is "n", and "#2" is "acdhir".

• Welcome to the site! :) – James Feb 26 '17 at 7:44
• Nice first answer! Here are a couple of golfing tips: you can replace Function[{x,y},...] with ...& as long as you replace every occurrence of x with # and every occurrence of y with #2. (In this case, you call x once and y twice, so you can save one additional byte by exchanging the order of the arguments.) You can also save bytes by giving a name to the function Join@@StringCases[#,RegularExpression[#2]& and using the name twice, or perhaps Fold. Remember, clarity is not key here: using as few bytes as possible is ... happy golfing! – Greg Martin Feb 26 '17 at 23:10

# Python 3.6 84  78 bytes

-6 bytes thanks to WuTheFWasThat (splitlines -> split and {c}and 4<len(w)<10 -> {c*(4<len(w)<10)})

lambda s,c:[w for w in open('z').read().split()if{*w}-{*s}=={c*(4<len(w)<10)}]


An unnamed function that takes a string and a character. Returns a list created by keeping those entries (ws) from a file where the set of remaining letters after removing any that are in the "can use" set ({*s}) is the set of the single "must use" character. The *s in {*x} unpack the strings to save bytes over set(x). The word-length check is 4<len(w)<10 and string multiplication saves a byte (since {*w}-{*s} can never result in a set containing an empty string).

Requires a file in the current directory named simply z containing the list of words separated by newlines (or carriage returns or both).

Taking a list of words would be preferable at 58 bytes.

With s='acdhri' and c='n' and using a file containing all entries and suffixed entries from the Chambers Scrabble™ Words (CSW) dictionary A.K.A. SOWPODS (which explicitly excludes proper nouns) we get the following resulting list of 85 words:

['acarian', 'acaridan', 'acaridian', 'acinar', 'acini', 'acinic', 'acridin', 'adhan', 'ahind', 'anana', 'anarch', 'anarchic', 'anicca', 'aniridia', 'aniridic', 'arachnid', 'arcadian', 'arcan', 'arcana', 'arnica', 'cairn', 'canada', 'canard', 'cancan', 'cancha', 'candid', 'candida', 'canid', 'canna', 'cannach', 'caranna', 'cardan', 'carina', 'chain', 'chana', 'characin', 'chicana', 'china', 'chinar', 'chinch', 'cinch', 'circadian', 'cnida', 'cnidarian', 'cranachan', 'cranch', 'crani', 'crania', 'darrain', 'dharna', 'diarian', 'dinar', 'dinic', 'dinna', 'drain', 'hainch', 'hanch', 'handcar', 'hariana', 'harridan', 'hinahina', 'inarch', 'india', 'indican', 'indicia', 'indri', 'iridian', 'nadir', 'naiad', 'naira', 'nandin', 'nandina', 'nanna', 'naric', 'niacin', 'nicad', 'rachidian', 'radian', 'radicand', 'ranarian', 'ranch', 'rancid', 'randan', 'ranid', 'ricin']


The word "india", is listed by this dictionary even though, due to the rules of Scrabble™, it explicitly excludes proper nouns, as: "(In international radio communication) a code word for the letter i [-S]" ('-S' indicating "inidas" is also acceptable), of course we could use any other file listing the words, but do note that "india" is also listed in TWL, the equivalent dictionary used in official Scrabble™ tournaments in the U.S. and Canada.

• Don't presume your wordlist has already been screened to remove 1-4 character words. – Michael Stern Feb 26 '17 at 4:30
• @MichaelStern I may be blind, was that in the spec? – Jonathan Allan Feb 26 '17 at 4:32
• @MichaelStern Also note, both other entries have done the same! – Jonathan Allan Feb 26 '17 at 4:33
• @MichaelStern the other 2 answers do that (started by me), because you had us go out and find a wordlist instead of specifying one. I, accordingly, did so, and since I had to pre-process it into a single file anyway, I kept only 5-9 words. It wasn't restricted in the spec (and I've put my wordlist up for anyone to use). – briantist Feb 26 '17 at 4:34
• @MichaelStern I have updated the code to reflect the updated spec. – Jonathan Allan Feb 26 '17 at 4:45

# Perl 6, 48 41 bytes

{grep /^@_*[$^a@_*]+$/,grep *.comb>4,1.IO.words}


{grep /^@_**5..*$/&/$(@_[0])/,1.IO.words}


Expects a whitespace-separated wordlist as a file called 1 in the current directory.
Expects the required character as the first argument, and a list of the additional allowed characters as the second argument (or as multiple arguments, it doesn't matter), all in lowercase.

### How it works

{                                       } # A lambda. (@_ is the flattened argument list.)
1.IO.words  # Read words from file as a lazy sequence.
grep /          /&/        /             # Filter words which match *both* these regexes:
^@_**5..*$# 1) Consists of 5+ allowed chars.$(@_[0])              #   2) Contains the required char.


Perl, 43 + 1 (-n switch)

/^[^\p{Lu}](?i)(?=.*n)[acdhirn]{5,9}$/&&say  Run on linux: perl -nE '/^[^\p{Lu}](?i)(?=.*n)[acdhirn]{5,9}$/&&say' < /usr/share/dict/american-english


Output: 33 words without proper nouns

anarchic
arachnid
banana
bandana
bandanna
branch
canard
cancan
candid
crania
enrich
errand
farina
handcar
harridan
maharani
mandarin
maniac
marina
niacin
ocarina
ordain
picnic
piranha
rancid
saccharin
tannin
unhand
urchin
zinnia


# Powershell, 41 bytes

briantist uses 3 cmdlets to make a solution. I would like to keep within one cmdlet.

param($a,$m)sls "^(?=.*$m)[$a$m]{5,9}$" z


As with the briantist's answer, I used The English Open Word List files combined into a single file named z.

As in other answers, the regex subpattern ^[$a$m]{5,9}$ asserts when a line contains allowed and required chars only. The basic difference: (?=.*$m) asserts that the required character can be matched somewhere in a line, without consuming characters. See docs.

Unfortunately, sls provides additional information, not matches only. The rules don't forbid it :-). To display only words, you need to get the value of the Line property (47 bytes) or call the cmdlet gc (43 or 44 bytes).

Test script:

$f = { # the output contains words and extra info param($a,$m)sls "^(?=.*$m)[$a$m]{5,9}$" z # 41 bytes, 1 command #param($a,$m)sls$m z|sls "^[$a$m]{5,9}$" # 40 bytes, 2 commands # only words solutions: #param($a,$m)sls "^(?=.*$m)[$a$m]{5,9}$" z|% l*e # 47 bytes, 1 command + 1 property #param($a,$m)gc z|sls "^(?=.*$m)[$a$m]{5,9}$" # 44 bytes, 2 commands #param($a,$m)gc z|sls$m|sls "^[$a$m]{5,9}$" # 43 bytes, 3 commands, briantist's https://codegolf.stackexchange.com/a/111293/80745 } &$f 'acdhir' 'n'


Output:

z:542:acarian
z:547:acaridan
z:854:acini
z:2134:ahind
z:3624:anana
z:3644:anarch
z:3647:anarchic
z:5042:arachnid
z:5117:arcana
z:5466:arnica
z:14834:cairn
z:15334:canard
z:15341:cancan
z:15363:candid
z:15364:candida
z:15414:canid
z:15435:canna
z:15440:cannach
z:15866:caranna
z:16065:carina
z:17442:chain
z:17721:characin
z:18241:chicana
z:18408:china
z:18411:chinar
z:18418:chinch
z:19142:cinch
z:20286:cnida
z:20288:cnidarian
z:23975:cranch
z:23983:crania
z:28928:dharna
z:29121:diarian
z:29648:dinar
z:29687:dinic
z:32006:drain
z:48944:handcar
z:49311:harridan
z:54033:inarch
z:54380:indican
z:54393:indicia
z:54473:indri
z:56194:iridian