Woodstock Blog

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[Google] Find Anagrams in Dictionary



Imagine you had a dictionary. How would you print all anagrams of a word? What if you had to do this repeatedly? Could you optimize it?


A very nice solution:

  1. Open dictionary

  2. Create empty hashmap H

  3. For each word in dictionary:

    1. Create a key that is the word’s letters sorted alphabetically (and forced to one case)

    2. Add the word to the list of words accessed by the hash key in H

There’s another very interesting idea, if the length of the word is not too long.

Another approach could be we can assign each letters from a..z a prime numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, .. so on)

and then for any word, we can calculate its key as the multiples of all the prime number corresponding to characters in the word.

The char -> int assignment may look like:

a=2, b=3, c=5, d=7, e=11, f=13, g=17, h=19, i=23, j=29, 
k=31, l=37, m=41, n=43, o=47, p=53, q=59, r=61, s=67, t=71, 
u=73, v=79, w=83, x=89, y=97, z=101


not written by me, link

private static HashMap<String, ArrayList<String>> anagramMap = new HashMap<String, ArrayList<String>>();

public static void findAnagrams(String[] dictionary) {
    int len = dictionary.length;

    for (int i = 0; i < len; i++) {
        String sortedWord = sortWordLexicographically(dictionary[i]);
        ArrayList<String> wordList = anagramMap.get(sortedWord);
        if (wordList == null) {
            wordList = new ArrayList<String>();
        anagramMap.put(sortedWord, wordList);

public ArrayList<String> getAnagrams(String word) {
    if (word == null) {
        return null;

    String sortedWord = sortWordLexicographically(word);
    return anagramMap.get(sortedWord);

public void printAnagrams(String word) {
    if (word == null) {
        System.out.println("Input word is null!");
    } else {
        ArrayList<String> wordList = getAnagrams(word);
        if (wordList == null) {
            System.out.println("No anagrams exists for : " + word);
        } else {
            Iterator<String> iter = wordList.iterator();
            while (iter.hasNext()) {