Purple Passage

Also known as:

Lost for Words

In this puzzle, a piece of prose is presented with all punctuation, word spaces and a proportion of its letters removed. The solver must deduce the missing letters and make sense of the text.

The text is usually in the form of a short story, joke or anecdote of around forty words. A variation of the puzzle, known as Lost for Words, uses a quotation from a well-known person.

It's a simple enough idea, but a tricky puzzle to set at just the right level of difficulty. A typical example will omit around one in five letters. The omissions will have been chosen carefully to disguise obvious words and to suggest red herrings in the passage.

The puzzle is essentially an exaggeration of the problem-solving we engage in regularly when reading. Our brains are already skilled in supplying missing information and ignoring redundant information in text. In fact we rarely even notice accidentally duplicated words in in text and and can usually make sense of eevn qitue svreleey jbmlued lnagague. Which is why an easy version of this puzzle is no puzzle at all.


Complete the unpunctuated story by filling in the missing letters.

Related Puzzles

Drop Quote Quotefall