Pangrams and Lipograms
I’ve long known that the sentence
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
contains every letter of the alphabet. What I didn’t know is that such a sentence has a special name. It’s a pangram.
pangram – from the Greek pan “every,” and gramma “letter” – also called a holoalphabetic sentence; “a sentence or (occas.) verse, containing every letter of the alphabet” (OED).
A “perfect” pangram would contain each letter only once and wouldn’t make much sense. For example: Jink cwm, zag veldt, fob qursh pyx
A lipogram is a sentence that is missing one or more letters.
lipogram – from a Greek word meaning “to be lacking” (no relation to liposuction in which the lipo is from a word for “fat”) The OED definition is “a composition from which the writer rejects all words that contain a certain letter or letters.”
One Christmas I received a card from a friend with a droll sense of humor. It took me a while to figure it out. Although it is not a sentence, I think that it can count as a lipogram. Here’s the message that was inside the card:
a b c d e f g h i j k m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
Hint: What’s another word for “Christmas”?
See the fascinating Wikipedia List of pangrams
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