WordLock – All Possible 4 & 5 Letter Words

I recently published an analysis on the Master Lock 4 letter combination locks. They have an unusual letter distribution and I was curious how many English words could be generated with those locks. It turned out that those Master Locks could create a lot more words than I had anticipated.

In light of the popularity of that post I once again worked with Rich Bragg of ClueKeeper to run the same analysis on the popular WordLock PL-004 5-Dial.

This lock seems to have fewer clichéd words, but there are a few that pop up a little too often including:

  • LASER
  • DEATH
  • FELON
  • BOOK(S)

A 5 letter WordLock closed, the word "Books" appearing.

Letter Distribution

This analysis is focused on the most current 5 disk WordLock model, the PL-004. There are 3 older models with somewhat different letter distributions and WordLock has other 4 disk products. 

The fixed-disk WordLock uses the following letter configuration:

Disk 1: L S W B P F M D T A

Disk 2: A P O R I L C E T N

Disk 3: S E R I L A N U T O

Disk 4: E L D A O S K N R T

Disk 5: R L S N T H Y D _ E

There are two particularly interesting things about this letter distribution.

First, the blank spot on the fifth disk (represented above with an underscore) cleverly allows the WordLock to represent 4 or 5 letter words.

Second, the lock has asymmetrical disks that, when all aligned, defaults 7 of the 10 lines of the lock into words:

  • WORDS
  • SPELL
  • LASER
  • BRIAN … if you consider a name to be a word
  • PILOT
  • FLASH
  • ANOTE … while it does have a definition, this more looks like a word than is a word

While the remaining three lines are gibberish, it’s still a nifty and thoughtful feature as the lock looks cool with all of those words on its face.

A 5 letter WordLock closed, the word "Spell" appearing.

What Words Can This Distribution Generate?

Here’s the spreadsheet. The left-most column contains 1,652 core English words. These are the best words that the analysis found. The further right you move, the less useful the words generally are (and the farthest right is mostly nonsense).

Analysis Methodology & Column Explanation

Absolutely everything about this analysis and its outputs conforms to the same information presented in the last letter lock analysis, so I won’t rehash it. It’s on the Master Lock post if you’re interested.

Odd Letter Distribution Hypothesis

After publishing the last analysis some members of the room escape community proposed a hypothesis about the odd letter distribution on those Master Locks:

It seemed like Master Lock may have been trying to make it impossible to spell curse words.

This seems like a valid answer for both Master Lock and WordLock’s letter selection. I cannot prove this one way or another, but you cannot generate the most popular American English swear words with these locks… so that’s probably not a coincidence.

Nevertheless, sifting through the wordlist revealed a few “vulgar” or degrading words… and I’m including them because my inner 10 year-old thinks this list is hilarious:

Vulgar Words: Proceed With Caution

ANAL, ANUS, BALLS, BONER, DORK, PANSY, SISSY, and PENAL (That last one isn’t at all vulgar, but it sure feels like it should be.) You can also generate the word MOIST… which apparently is a word that a lot of people hate.

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There are also TONS of innuendo-y words that I didn’t include… because I’m an adult.

WordLock Word List

14 thoughts on “WordLock – All Possible 4 & 5 Letter Words

  1. This is a prototypical REA article; very useful and fun to read. Letting the inner 10 year old out to share a perspective is humorously endearing.

  2. We don’t try to make sense out of number locks, why do letter locks need to spell words? I find that people brute force letter locks if actual words are used that align with the theme of the room. Sometimes we use random letter combinations in our rooms. We don’t find that it causes players a problem when the code is just a series of random letters and the puzzle is well clued.

    1. I finds that the advantage of having letter locks be actual words is that its a gratifying confirmation that the puzzle has been solved correctly. The trick is finding words that they won’t just guess but that are still on the nose enough that the players will know that they are right.

      Brute force-rs are a tiny percentage of our customers. I personally would rather have 95% satisfied ‘Aha!’ moments versus everyone getting a ‘maybe its this’ feeling.

      Just my two cents.

      1. While I can see opportunities where non-words are smart, I generally agree with this.

  3. Has anyone found any locks that support 4 letters with re-assignable discs/wheels? The Master 5-dial word lock isn’t bad, but if you want a 5-letter or 5-digit combination, you’ll need to combine multiple locks of the same color, because Master only includes 4 alphabetic dials and 4 numeric dials. I’d like to get some locks that allow 4-letter words that aren’t in the possibilities of the previously discuss locks here.

    1. Your options for letter locks are very limited. Those 5 wheel Master Locks also come in a less common 4 wheel variant (but with number wheels that can be substituted for letter wheels. https://amzn.to/2my7lIE

      In general, your best store-bought bet is to buy a bunch of the 5 wheel letter locks, and then redistribute the wheels as needed. It is admittedly a mediocre solution. https://amzn.to/2O6DRP1

      If you have access to a 3D printer, you can always make your own wheels: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2262858

  4. Thanks for the reply, David! For a puzzle hunt party I’m doing, one of my designers was hoping to use the codeword “TOGA” to unlock a lock. I’ve advised him to redesign the puzzle around what is easily available, but your two ideas are excellent — I wasn’t aware of the 4-digit numeric lock sharing the same dials as the alphabetic one — that would definitely work, although I think only one dial comes with a “G”, so it would require buying a bunch and hoping for a set of matching colors.

    The 3D printer option is even more interesting, because I could substitute alternative glyphs for letters.

    1. I’m happy to help. I’d recommend running some tests on the 3D print concept and see how the materials hold up as well as how tight the tolerances need to be to keep the lock spinning correctly.

      If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to hear how it turns out?

  5. I decided to go the route of replacing dials on a compatible 4-digit Master lock. You can see the results here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/b9egQt7Kt88PNGm77

    Because I’ve got leftover dials from quite a few locks (as you can see in one of the photos) I experimented with mixing colors. I think I’m going to stick with the white and blue combination and clue the color scheme in the puzzle somewhere, as I’ve got several blue locks already.

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