29 interesting word pairs that differ by one letter

During a recent trip with my kids, we started playing word games to pass the time in the airport and on the plane. A new game we came up with was to start naming pairs of words that differ by only one letter.

We came up with quite a few simple word pairs, such as cat/bat; rate/date; purr/pure. But the game made me wonder about longer word pairs and how the one-letter difference changed the meanings in interesting ways.

After several searches through online dictionaries, Scrabble dictionaries, blogs, and an article from Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics,* here is a list of such words.

  • Abide/abode
  • Absorption/adsorption
  • Accent /accept
  • Befuddle/bemuddle
  • Coal/coax
  • Claimed/clammed
  • Fabled/failed
  • Foster/zoster
  • Grate/irate
  • Hiss/ kiss
  • Incommutable/incomputable
  • Installation/ instillation
  • Jilt/kilt
  • Land/ laud
  • Loft/lout
  • Major/ mayor
  • Prescription/ proscription
  • Quart/ quartz
  • Quest/ guest
  • Quilt/built
  • Revenge/revenue
  • Skull/scull
  • Takes/taxes
  • Torment/torrent
  • Waited/wasted
  • Whether/whither
  • Whimper/whisper
  • Whistle/ whittle
  • Wordless/workless

How about you, my fellow wordsmiths? Which pair is your favorite? Any other word pairs to add to the list?

*And yes. There is such a publication as Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics. I am now a subscriber.

This post was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.

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