Name stairs: a name puzzle challenge

Jul 7th 2006

A brainteaser for a lazy summer day...how long a "staircase" can you build with names? Start with a name then add one letter at a time to the beginning, with each step being another name that appears in the NameVoyager. For instance:

ESTER
HESTER
CHESTER

ANNA
HANNA
SHANNA

I can make a bunch of three-step staircases, but so far that fourth step has proven elusive. Can you do better?

You can also try the other direction, adding letters to the end:

ISABEL
ISABELL
ISABELLE

That's a trivial example, but looking for ending stairs gives you a great appreciation of how much each generation builds on classic name roots -- some staircases look like steps through time. So far I've hit five steps using endings, and four where each extra letter adds a whole syllable like so:

JOAN
JOANN
JOANNA

Comments

1
By Iris (not verified)
July 7, 2006 4:34 PM

That's such a cool idea! I've only found one so far:
Ana
Lana
Alana
which is a pretty simple one, but I'm going to keep looking!

2
By Iris (not verified)
July 7, 2006 4:46 PM

Found a four stepper:
Lia
Alia
Malia
Amalia

3
By julie (not verified)
July 7, 2006 6:01 PM

Ena
Rena
Trena

4
By Margaret (not verified)
July 7, 2006 6:20 PM

well, copying you but

Ara
Mara
Amara
Samara

And if you're allowed to add in the middle (also borrowing from you)

Joan
Joann
Joanna
Johanna
Johannah

5
By julie (not verified)
July 7, 2006 6:32 PM

Ari
Mari
Amari
Kamari

6
By Wendy (not verified)
July 7, 2006 6:38 PM

How about

Ann
Anna
Hanna
Shanna

(or is that cheating because I did back and front?)

Lyn
Lynn
Lynne

7
By julie (not verified)
July 7, 2006 6:40 PM

Ok, this feels a bit like cheating...

Chris
Christ
Christi
Christin
Christine or Christina

8
By julie (not verified)
July 7, 2006 6:49 PM

Isa
Lisa
Elisa
Melisa

This is too addictive... must get back to work!

9
By Cheryl (not verified)
July 7, 2006 7:08 PM

Ena (got lucky with this one!)
Lena
Elena
Helena

Can a bunch of you name some babies Chelena please?

10
By Valerie (not verified)
July 7, 2006 7:16 PM

Great game!
Mari
Maris
Marisa

or

Mari
Maria
Marian
Mariana

11
By Cynthia (not verified)
July 7, 2006 7:59 PM

Gus
Gust
Gusta
Gustav
Gustave

12
By Cynthia (not verified)
July 7, 2006 8:05 PM

Nya
Anya
Tanya

13
By Cheryl (not verified)
July 7, 2006 8:34 PM

Oops! Valerie pretty much beat me to this one. But I did get one more level:

Mari
Maria
Marian
Mariann
Marianna

14
By Joni (not verified)
July 7, 2006 9:05 PM

Fun game!

Juli
Julia
Julian
Juliann
Julianna

Ari
Mari
Omari

I think it's easier to make a chain with endings rather than beginnings.

15
By Joni (not verified)
July 7, 2006 9:42 PM

Eva
Evan

Okay that was only a lame two-stepper. :P

How about:
Eli
Elia
Elian
Eliana

Emil
Emili
Emilia

Adria
Adrian
Adriana

Lili
Lilia
Lilian
Liliana

Susan
Susann
Susanna
Susannah

"anna" seems to be a handy name for making steps.

Jo
Jon
Joni

:)

16
By Valerie (not verified)
July 8, 2006 5:07 AM

This is such fun...
Jan
Jane
Janet
Janett
Janette

So... my question is... does Janett count? I've never heard of one but I bet there are some out there. And it's no stranger than some of the names you guys are using to make this game work!

17
By Valerie (not verified)
July 8, 2006 5:10 AM

Oh, Laura, I know a guy called Joa, so you could have:
Jo
Joa
Joan
Joann
Joanna
I'm noticing that it's mostly girls'
names that seem to work.

18
By Michi (not verified)
July 8, 2006 5:31 PM

Kim
Akim
Hakim

Mari
Marie
Mariel
Mariele

Tam
Tama
Tamar
Tamara

Ra
Ara
Dara
Adara

19
By kasr (not verified)
July 8, 2006 11:47 PM

This post reminded me of the 1960's hit song "The Name Game" of Shirley Ellis, for those of you old enough to remember. All of the above posts could be incorporated into the tune. Was Laura the lyricist for that tune?

20
By Luxiana (not verified)
July 9, 2006 4:15 AM

I don't think all of these count, but it's really fun!

Try adding a letter and then dissolving the other end. It's a fun way to find variants to names you like too. And really fun to scroll through fast.

Ama
Amar
Amara
Amaran
Amarant
Amaranth
Amaranthe
Maranthe
Aranthe
Ranthe
Anthe
Nthe
The
Theo
Theod
Theodo
Theodor
Theodoro
Heodoro
Eodoro
Odoro
Doro
Oro
Ro

Al
Ale
Alex
Alexa
Alexan
Alexand
Alexandr
Alexandra
Lexandra
Exandra
Xandra
Andra
Ndra
Dra
Ra
Ram
Ramo
Ramon
Ramona
Amona
Mona
Ona
Na
Nat
Nata
Natal
Natali
Natalia
Atalia
Talia
Alia
Lia
Ia
Ian
Iann
Ianna
Anna

addictive.

21
By Wendy (not verified)
July 9, 2006 4:17 AM

okay, some of you are definitely "cheating" since the rule was the name had to appear in the baby name voyager. ;)

I independently came up with a different variation of Mari during a business meeting yesterday:

Mari
Maria
Marian
Mariann
Marianne

22
By Judy M. (not verified)
July 9, 2006 12:31 PM

Vi
Avi
Ravi

23
By Luxiana (not verified)
July 9, 2006 2:16 PM

Lilia
Lilian
Liliana
Iliana
Liana

Li*
Lil*
Lili*
Lilia
Lilian
Liliana
Iliana
Liana
Iana*
Ana
Na*

the *names are actual names I've seen on other websites but not on the baby name voyager.

24
By Lillie (not verified)
July 11, 2006 5:45 AM

Ina
Mina
Amina

An (Vietnamese name)
Lan (Chinese)
Lana
Alana

Mara
Amara
Tamara

Luc
Luci
Lucia
Lucian
Luciano

25
By Caren (not verified)
July 13, 2006 2:41 AM

Annabel
Annabell
Annabelle

26
By g (not verified)
July 21, 2006 7:53 AM

some people have no life

27
By Nevaeh (not verified)
July 27, 2006 5:56 AM

vaeh
evaeh
nevaeh
anevaeh
la'nevaeh (does this one count?)

28
By Nevaeh (not verified)
July 27, 2006 5:58 AM

nel
anel
manel
amanel
camanel
scamanel
escamanel
tescamanel

29
By Nevaeh (not verified)
July 27, 2006 6:00 AM

el
nel
anel
hanel
chanel

30
By Alanna (not verified)
July 29, 2006 4:01 AM

Mari
Maria
Marian
Mariann
Marianne

31
By Buffalo (not verified)
August 26, 2006 8:13 AM

Jo
Joe
Joel (or Joey)

Leo
Leon
Leone (or Leona)

Brad
Brady
Bradyn

Kari
Karin
Karina

Dean
Deann
Deanna

Ella
Della
Adella

Jan
Jana
Janae

Jan
Jane
Janet

32
By Rayna (not verified)
September 2, 2006 11:59 AM

Ami
Amir
Amira

Susan
Susann
Susanna
Susannah

All in the Wizard :)

33
By Cheryl (not verified)
September 3, 2006 7:48 PM

Ina
Lina
Alina
Salina

Julia
Julian
Juliann
Julianne or Julianna

Jan
Jane
Janel
Janell
Janelle

Leo
Leon
Leona
Leonar (ack!)
Leonard
Leonardo

34
By jen (not verified)
October 3, 2006 12:56 PM

Ann
Anna
Annabel
Annabell
Annabella

35
By Nyssa (not verified)
October 25, 2006 6:32 AM

One of the original examples could actually be expanded to a fourth step:

ANNA
HANNA
SHANNA
SHANNAN

I realize that "Shannan" is an untraditional spelling, but I knew a girl in high school whose name was actually spelled that way.

36
By Tree Top 100 Baby Names (not verified)
December 2, 2006 6:24 PM

Just in case you run out of unique names (and you're really addicted to this), we've got some new ones you may be able to use . . .

37
By TOM HICKEY (not verified)
December 18, 2006 8:59 PM

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSG

38
By Janel (not verified)
April 7, 2007 5:37 PM

My name is Janel and my personal nickname is Elle and my family calls me Nel. My last name is Hickey like the last poster. I don't know if anyone has posted here in awhile but I just wanted to share that.

39
By Heidi (not verified)
April 9, 2007 9:46 PM

Apropos of nothing, I'd just like to get your feedback on a name-related issue.

My daughter is now 10 months old and my husband and I have grown to love her second name, Violet,more than her first, and to call her by this name. Do you think it would be at all strange/ inconvenient for her to go by her middle name? Do you know anyone else who goes by their second name and does it pose them with any problems?

At the moment all our relatives refer to her by her first name. Should we let them carry on doing this or formally instruct them to call her by her middle name? Have you any experience of this?

40
By ashley (not verified)
May 2, 2007 9:16 PM

ted
tad
tod

41
By Anonymous (not verified)
October 30, 2007 10:56 PM

This is...awesome!
Jea
Jean
Jeann
Jeanne
Jeannet
Jeannett
Jeannette

42
By Shannan (not verified)
November 28, 2007 3:11 AM

Yeah, like someone else said:
Anna
Hanna
Shanna
Shannan...my name!