Term Twirl - a Text Twist clone

term_twirl.ino.leonardo.hex (78.8 KB)

Here’s a GIF

May-29-2020 22-38-07


This is clone of classic Text Twist, with 1900 random levels. Add to your score by unjumbling the letters to make words. If you use all six letters to make a word within the allotted time, then you can continue to the next level. There is a large bonus for finding all the words before time runs out.

Easy Mode: Play using only common English words.
Hard Mode: Include all words in the Scrabble Tournament Word List.


Left/Right: Move the cursor.
Up: Select a letter.
Down: Retract a letter.
A: Play the word.
B: Retract all the letters, or shuffle the letters.


The word list for this game is compressed as a DAWG and takes up ~16KB worth of program storage.

Github Source


Awesome game! But perhaps too generous in allowed words… e.g. from “FACIAL”, we have:
“AAL”, “CAF” (What?!)
“CAL” (abbreviation of calorie?!)
“FIL” (proper noun afaik!?)
“FLIC” (slang?!)
“ALFA” (uncommon variant spelling!?).

I’d expect just ‘normal’ / Scrabble words being allowed. Or is that just me?..


Yeahhh, all those words are valid in competitive scrabble:

Here are the official definitions:
AAL n pl. -S an East Indian shrub
CAF n pl. -S a cafeteria or cafe
CAL n pl. -S a small calorie
FIL n pl. -S a coin of Iraq and Jordan
FLIC n pl. -S a Parisian policeman
ALFA n pl. -S a communications code word for the letter A


Ah ok… In the UK our house rules dictates a local dictionary (Oxford English, etc.)… :slight_smile:

I’d love to use this with my kids as an educational game but worried they’d get really down-hearted, not knowing so many (very odd!) words… is there any way to make a cut down ‘kid’ version?

I also tried reading up on DAWG… but got lost. Is there a nice online intro you’d recommend?


Great game!

Although they may be in the ‘Scrabble’ dictionary, ‘caf’ and ‘cal’ look like abbreviations to me. I agree with @acedent though - a version that removes the these would be awesome.


Ah yeah, I definitely did play text twist a lot as a kid.

So if you want to recompile the source, there’s a twl.txt that serves as the current dictionary that you can swap out.

Let me see if I can find an easier word list online. Interestingly, there’s an unused bit in the struct i can use denote whether a word is easy or hard. Doesn’t seem that difficult to implement…

As for the DAWG data structure, the original implementation of the source is actually pretty good with a nice readme: https://github.com/AndrasKovacs/dawg-gen

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Thanks! So yeah, I’m using this list because I had it on hand. Let me see if i can find a list with more common words. I can probably fit in a toggle to swap between the lists in the game itself if I find such a a list.


Apparently fil is a “Nordic dairy product”,
but I can’t find any suggestion that it’s ever been a kind of coin.
Fils is “a subdivision of currency used in many Arab countries”,
but it’s singular (the plural is fulus) hence there’s no ‘fil’.

Aal and flic are genuine (albeit obscure) words,
(though the latter is derogatory slang, and directly imported from French,)
the rest I’d class as being words of dubious quality.

The list of words allowed in Scrabble definitely goes beyond the scope of ‘normal’.

Honestly, when was the last time you mentioned an adze? :P
(Assuming you’re not a cartwright/wainwright or a cooper.)


Lol, yeah, I definitely agree that they’re not normal. Even we players who compete complain about what does and doesn’t belong.

Huh TIL: the FIL/FILS thing is actually really interesting. It looks like even the Jordanian mint actually made this mistake and minted “1 FIL” coins for a while: http://www.wcoinw.com/coins/1%20Fil%201949%20big.jpg

We’ve definitely borrowed words incorrectly, and the scrabble dictionary is very permissive, so we get words like “TAMALE” (instead of TAMAL), and GELATIS (where GELATI is already plural).

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That’s not the only mistake there.

They also printed “The Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan” instead of “The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”.

It seems that was a common error on the earlier Jordanian coins.
Coins from the mid 50s onwards omitted the ungrammatical definite article.

(Also apparently ‘fulus’ is only plural for some countries that have a fils.
In Jordan at least, fils is both singular and plural.)

I don’t often encounter Mexican food so I wasn’t aware of this issue.

Though apparently while ‘tamal’ is the correct singular in Spanish,
there are some Spanish dialects where ‘tamale’ is used.
Meanwhile in the Nahuatl language, ‘tamalli’ is both singular and plural.

(Tamale is also the name of a town in Ghana.)

If the Scrabble dictionary really accepts that, then people obviously care more about how the game plays than keeping it true to proper language usage.

@Corruptio I am not sure if you have sen this book >


or this book >

But they were both written by a Senator here from Australia, Derryn Hinch. He was also a journalist, TV personalty, Radio Personality and … and a criminal (multiple times,for contempt of court for breaching suppression orders).

The best thing I can say is that he was born in NZ.


A common error but if you mainly speak Arabic it is easy to see why it went unnoticed!

So at one point or another, these were in common enough usage that they got added to a dictionary, and the scrabble people have been using that since. The issue is that it’s really easy to add words from tournament play, but really difficult to remove.

My guess that GELATIS was at some point in usage but fell out of favor, while other Italian mis-borrowed words like GRAFFITIS and CANNOLIS remained.

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OK, added a “Easy mode” where only the most common 30,000 English words will show up. Though i’m still not happy with this word list, since words like AIN are still in but GAB is out.

And unfortunately, this is at the cost of reduced storage for words in general. So we sent from 1700 levels to 1300 levels.


oook, since I couldn’t find a good word list of common English words. I instead hand-curated the list… only about ~10k words.


I really appreciate the new modes… although they should be called ‘NormalPerson’ and ‘ScrabbleGeek’! :wink:

I’ve been playing on ‘Easy’ mode with my family, and made some notes (hope they’re of use / interest?).


  • Gives NAE and TAE, both Scottish words that few English kids (or Americans?) would know.


  • Gives ERE, archaic English.


  • Won’t accept anagram of DETEST.


  • Won’t accept NAN (very common UK word).


  • Gives ARS, DAW - should just be in ‘hard’ mode.

Another observation is that perhaps the easy mode should exclude 3 letter words that only exist as plurals, e.g. ‘ADS’. (plural of ad). Junior players never spot these, as they aren’t thinking about the 2 letter words to pluralise.

Re. word lists ~
In terms of workings with kids, the UK primary school curriculum includes learning the first 100 most common words. e.g.: https://www.twinkl.co.uk/search?term=first+100+high+frequency+words
Then they work on the next 500 most common words.
Would a list of the top 3000 be workable for an ‘Easy’ mode? https://www.ef.co.uk/english-resources/english-vocabulary/top-3000-words/
(Then change the existing modes to ‘Normal’ and ‘Extra’?).
Perhaps that’s too limited…?
Sorry to keep going on, I just see a lot of potential for this to be used with education.

PS - Our household loves the game. :slight_smile:


… Just seen ARMOR (US sp.) rather than armo_u_r (UK sp)… Perhaps I just need to make my own word lists!.. :slight_smile:


Hmm, is seems that TANNED showed up in the “HARD” list in the latest compile. Maybe you selected the other option in the main menu? (it would explain why NAE and TAE are there, cuz those shouldn’t have showed up in easy).

I missed ERE. I’m probably missed a few other words too.

TESTED was classified as easy, but DETEST was classified as hard. Let me do a test where i make sure that the anagrams for the sixes aren’t split like that.

NAN - i only know this as an alternate spelling of NAAN the indian flatbread. Definitely, GRANDMA is more common here.

ARS - was the plural of the letter AR, and DAW was one of the harder animal words that i kept in because maybe a child will then look it up and see that it’s a bird later.

But yeah my Americanness is definitely showing. Though i did keep SABRE, FIBRE, and LITRE in there.

Hmm, i like the idea of getting rid of the pluralized 2’s.

My criteria for creating the easy list was:

  • no interjections eg. WOWEE
  • no foreign currency/coinage FIL, ZUZ (except for DOLLAR and QUID)
  • no industry specific terms except for those that you might learn in high school eg. OHM
  • yes animals, especially the weirder ones because kids might be interested in that eg. ZEBU, ORYX
  • yes greek letters, eg. ALPHA, ETA
  • no old english/hebrew/IPA letters, eg. WYNN, BETH, SHWA
  • no profanity, except when there’s an anatomical meaning
  • yes animal sounds, eg. BAA, MOO
  • no racially offensive terms
  • no archaic english, with a few exceptions like THOU
  • yes english letters, eg. DEE, EFF
  • yes common foreign cuisine, eg. KEBAB, POI
  • no informal, eg. BRO, DOC
  • no italian music terms, eg. MOLTO
  • no technical abbreviation, eg. LIDAR
  • no uncommon land feature, eg. FEN, HAHA
  • no abbreviated muscles, eg. ABS, DELT
    Everything else was if I think I can easily explain the definition of the word to a new english learner.

Sounds great, but I’d still suggest removing from ‘Easy’:

  • yes english letters, eg. DEE, EFF

This isn’t something we teach / learn in the UK… AFAIK.

Also, found this… :slight_smile:


Och nae, ya dinnae ken lad? Are ya nicht fr’m Glasgae?
Ne’er mind, I’m off tae pub for a wee dram. :P

(Of course, whether Scots is a variant of English or a language of its own is something of a controversial question.)

I was really tempted to go off tangent with some excellent examples of regional English to betwattle the grockles, but I’m just about resisting the urge… :P

A fair number of younger Brits ought to be aware of it due to compulsory Shakespeare in school English lessons, but it’s almost certainly not used in common parlance.

Excellent point, but does it also accept naan?
(The kind you should eat, as opposed to the kind you shouldn’t. :P)

I happen to know this one, but only because of an episode of Father Brown named after a puported Aesopian fable.
(Incidentally, I found a .pdf of the fable from BBC School Radio, but using ‘jackdaw’ instead of 'daw.)

Ultimately birds like rooks, kites and kestrels are probably more likely to be known by country bumpkins than city slickers.
(Tangentially related: can you recognise different trees from quite a long way away? :P)

In my (probably more recent) experience the answer is a firm “no, we don’t”.

I suspect this is either an antiquated practice or something reserved for linguists.
(Fun fact: a significant number of people have a habit of mispronouncing ‘aitch’ (‘h’) as ‘haitch’.)

For a similar reason I’d be concerned about the Greek letters.
I think people are more likely to know them because they are more likely to be used than the spellings of letter names since most people don’t actually write Greek, but I think they’re better off safer on the hard list.

Two remarks:

  • ‘Euro’ should probably be included because France and Ireland are more or less ‘next door’ to mainland Britain. (Moreso for the sake of Ireland than France, though French is taught in most secondary schools and some primary schools.)
  • Technically ‘quid’ isn’t foreign :P

I had to look up poi - Hawaiian food is more or less nonexistant here (or at least where I live).
Though I still think you should keep it in for educational value along the same lines as the obscure animals.

(If the goal is to aim this list towards a British curriculum and/or word pool then I could suggest which foreign cuisines are more likely to be encountered and recognised in my (probably limited) experience.)

I haven’t looked at the list, but I’m interested in how you decide if something is ‘uncommon’ or worthy of an ‘exception’ for these cases.

(Fortunately v-shaped valley and oxbow lakes aren’t single words.)

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