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
Recommended For You
Subscribe to Receive our Articles and Exercises via Email
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our exercise archives, writing courses, writing jobs and much more!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!
21 Responses to “Pangrams and Lipograms”
What is the answer to the question on the end? My teacher set us some prep with that question on it and I can’t work it out. I tried asking him and he won’t tell me the answer. Please Help!!!!
As you yourself said, there is “No ‘l'” in the message. Noel (or Noël, to be perfectly accurate) is a synonym for Christmas.
i still don’t get the message at the end! i can see there’s no ‘l’, but i still can’t figure it out. and the hint’s not helping either…
How to start a nursing agency
This is great validation and helps us understand just how to learn more of your content
If you say ‘jumped’ instead of ‘jumps’, then the pangram becomes a lipogram!
For lovers of Dutch, there’s the inimitable ‘Opperlandse Taal & Letterkunde’ by Battus
RE: awhile vs a while
Doh! I know that.
Thanks. I’m going to change it because, come to think of it, the version I learned had “jumps.”
Oh, I just realized that you COULD substitute “jumps” for “jumped,” and then “dog” can remain singular. (“E” occurs in “the” and “d” occurs in “dog.”) I think that was the way I had originally heard it, and why I was so surprised the first time I heard “jumped” and “dogs” used.
I believe it should be “The quick brown fox jumps (not jumped) over the lazy dog”, or the letter “s” would be missing.
Maeve, you have changed the traditional pangram sentence to a lipogram by leaving out a very important letter: s. The word “dog” must be made plural to include every letter of the alphabet in the sentence! (I know, I was really flabbergasted the first time I realized that such a commonly occurring letter as “s” was not found in another word in the sentence.)
Edward, I agree with you on the use of “awhile.”
“a while” is correct.
Also “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” contains no “s”. The correct pangram uses “jumps”.
Edward F. Gumnick
Your use of “awhile” in the paragraph that begins “One Christmas…” seems to be at odds with the site’s explanation of the distinction between “awhile” and “a while.” This paragraph seems to be using “a while” as a noun, not as an adverb. If you’d said “I pondered awhile,” “awhile” would be appropriate.
Incidentally, I think the article that explains this distinction (http://www.dailywritingtips.com/a-while-vs-awhile) is incorrect in asserting that “a while” must be preceded by a preposition. By your own reasoning, if “awhile” is synonymous with “for a while,” then “it took me awhile” makes no sense.
Or am I missing something?
Lipograms can’t really be listed the way pangrams can be.
See this Wikipedia article on lipograms:
This is definitely a cool article!! However, I don’t whether to be impressed or horrorifed that someone would take the time to create all of those panagrams.
Where might I find other Lipograms?
“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog
contains every letter of the alphabet”
Your sentence “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” is missing the “s,” an error I’ve seen before. The word “jumped” should be replaced by “jumps.” Then you’ll be OK. Thanks.
Adviser or Advisor?
Where is the ‘s’?
Isn’t it ironic that in explaining the definition of a pangram you failed to notice your example omits the letter ‘s.’ Hence the correct pangram that is so commonly used would be:
“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
Wow, it took me far too long to find the message in that one. I kept thinking “but the X is there…”
Love the post. Very clever friend you have there.