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10 anagrams of tesla

If you pass round Hogarth Roundabout here in West London, or drive over it on the rickety one-lane flyover, you might notice the Tesla showroom on the north side of the A4. It’s on the site of a long-gone pub, The Feathers, which gets a mention in this piece from 2017, along with many other dead pubs.

Driving past it recently with my children I was struck by how many anagrams you can get out of the 5 letters in the word TESLA. I asked my son and daughter if they could think of any. They were slower than I expected with their answers. Not the right question, or not the right time perhaps. I had thought of 5 obvious ones straight away, and eventually, as we headed up the A4, they came out with one or two. Then three. Least. Stale. Steal.

And that was about it. I suggested the other two that they might have got: Slate, Tales.

When we got home I typed the 5 letters into my Scrabble Master and pressed the “Build” button.


As you can see from the picture above, the Scrabble Master is a pocket-sized device. It acts as both a dictionary and word-finder for Scrabble players. It’s a dedicated machine, over 15 years old. Unlike most digital devices these days it does not receive updates. It is a snapshot of allowable Scrabble words (up to 10 letters at least) in the early years of this century. I have just typed “Trampoline” (11 letters) into the device to check if it’s an acceptable word, and it suggests “Trampolin” (10 letters) instead.

Here are the results of pressing the Build button 11 words in alphabetical order:


[The above example shows you how I divide up lists of 10 or more items when they’re presented in a single paragraph: a single back-slash after every 5 items, and a double back-slash every 10th item. It allows you to count up items in a list quicker than using commas, or if you have no characters to separate out the words.]

The only word here that is not recognized by my current word processor (Microsoft Word, as you might have guessed) is LEATS. The top Google search for leat is this Oxford Languages definition: “an open watercourse conducting water to a mill”.

The other words that were unfamiliar to me, along with the definition that comes top with a Google search, are as follows. All of the definitions are from Oxford Languages apart from the first.

  • Salet (“a light round helmet extending over the back of the neck”, from Collins).
  • Stela (“an upright stone slab or column typically bearing a commemorative inscription or relief design, often serving as a gravestone”).
  • Taels (the plural form of tael, “a weight used in China and East Asia, of varying amount but fixed in China at 50 grams (1 3/4 oz.) … a former Chinese monetary unit based on the value of a tael of standard silver”).
  • Teals (plural of teal, “a small freshwater duck, typically with a greenish band on the wing that is most prominent in flight”). [I should probably have known that one.]

The list of anagrams didn’t include LATES, which Word does accept, and so would I if we were playing Scrabble.

The definition of tesla (without the initial capital) is “the SI unit of magnetic flux density”. I knew it was an SI unit, but didn’t know which.

I suspect that AELST, to use the conventional alphabetized form, may be the 5-letter combination with the highest number of allowable anagrams, but I haven’t tried too hard to find others. My children, unsurprisingly, aren’t too bothered about it.


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