There have already been several examples of trivialities, here, apropos ducks, and I think that this one is not much worse than others…


This evening I saw an ad on this site from The LaTeX Font Catalogue: it was screaming something like (I don’t remember exactly) “We feature quick foxes… Sleazy dogs…”, and, all of a sudden, it hit me that no mention at all was made of ducks! I’m becoming so biased in this regard that I felt immediately compelled to invent a pangram involving ducks, to be used for displaying the full set of lowercase letters in a font. Unfortunately, my limited English vocabulary didn’t permit me to go any further than

The jumping yellow duck quacks from the overfull horizontal box.

(actually, I didn’t try that hard!), which is 54 character long, so I thought of seeking help from my friendly fellows at TeX.SX!

Question and Rules

The question is to find a short English sentence that:

  • makes sense;

  • contains all the 26 English lowercase letters (the first letter of the sentence must be uppercase, so it does not count, nor does any other letter in the sentence that must be capitalized according to the rules of the English grammar);

  • makes explicit mention of ducks, not necessarily as the subject of the sentence; note, however, that the word “duck” must refer to the bird (so, for instance, using the verb “to duck” doesn’t suffice, in itself, to comply with this rule);

  • contains at least an implicit, but clearly recognizable, reference to (La)TeX (e.g., the “overfull horizontal box”, in our example).

The shortest sentence wins.

Clarification about the rules

After seeing a few answers, I think there are a couple of points that should be clarified:

  1. Using explicitly the words “TeX” or “LaTeX” as references to the (La)TeX world breaks what is perhaps the most important rule about word puzzles: in a riddle on the checkerboard, you cannot use the word “checkerboard”; but in any case, we all agree upon the rule that those words—when referring to (La)TeXmust be capitalized in the “usual unusual” way, so they would only make you gain a couple of vowels. Of course, you can still mention Tex Willer… ;-)

  2. One could argue that mentioning ducks is, in itself, a reference to TeX: well, no, your answer must contain a reference independent of ducks (and also of marmots)!


On second thought, perhaps this is the most stupid question ever asked here, even restricting to those concerning ducks!

  • 2
    Does \duckumentklas{article} count?
    – percusse
    Mar 31, 2018 at 1:27
  • 1
    @percusse: The answer should be an English sentence, not LaTeX code. :-)
    – GuM
    Mar 31, 2018 at 1:30
  • 2
    I can type anything english after that
    – percusse
    Mar 31, 2018 at 1:31
  • @percusse: Mmmh, mentioning ducks and alluding to LaTeX at the same time, with “duck” appearing as a substring of another word… I had not thought of this possibility. I’d say that this violates the rules because of the substring, but let me see if the resulting phrase is sufficiently witty to entice me into making an exception!
    – GuM
    Mar 31, 2018 at 1:41
  • @GuM That's not (standard) LaTeX code either .... Isn't a reference to ducks on this site already an implicit reference to LaTeX?
    – cfr
    Mar 31, 2018 at 3:06
  • 1
    ‘A blitzed margin!’ crows a jinxed hop of quivery drakes. 44
    – cfr
    Mar 31, 2018 at 3:34
  • abfghjlmnpqrtvwxyz is duck code. 28
    – cfr
    Mar 31, 2018 at 3:40
  • 1
    @cfr: I plainly admit I had to turn to a dictionary in order to understand your first answer. I have two remarks: (1) if the reference to TeX lies in the “blitzed margin”, I’m afraid it is a bit too weak; (2) why not just “…quivery ducks”? And, yes, I’m also afraid your second answer is cheating…! (;-)
    – GuM
    Mar 31, 2018 at 10:50
  • Is this why a duck showed up in the lower right corner this morning? I'm currently running a virus scan to see if it is just me. Mar 31, 2018 at 11:56
  • 1
    @JohnKormylo: I see that duck too. I think it is a nice addition that has just been made to the site by its administrators! And, no, the fact that it happened after this question has been posted is only a coincidence… :-)
    – GuM
    Mar 31, 2018 at 12:17
  • 1
    The real scandal is that neither ducks nor marmots are mentioned!
    – user121799
    Apr 1, 2018 at 3:46
  • 2
    We need a UTF8/16/32-based pangram, in which all symbols of the Unicode range are used in a sentence. Apr 1, 2018 at 16:45
  • 8
    Not to be a killjoy, but this is completely off-topic. (Meta is really for questions about the workings of the tex.stackexchange website.) Apr 2, 2018 at 6:31
  • 1
    @TorbjørnT. Fully agreeing here with you. Please go to area51 and ask for a duck.SE. This place should be about TeX/LaTeX and in particular this meta about this TeX/LaTeX page running.
    – Johannes_B
    Apr 2, 2018 at 6:58
  • 1
    @Johannes_B: OK, but then, is this on topic? I’m not trying to make an argument of it, but, you know, TeX guys have their particular attitude; many of us share a background in mathematics and a passion for computer science, so we are just… well, particular. I’m afraid that if you want a TeX.SE in which many true TeX enthusiasts spend their time, you have to accept the fact that this people simply cannot stay serious all the time… :-)
    – GuM
    Apr 2, 2018 at 18:26

4 Answers 4


Here's one with 36 letters:

A jovial duck with zany plumage foxes breqn.

This is like code golf but for words. Here's one with 34 letters:

A jive duck with zany plumage foxes breqn.

This is now the same length as one shorter than the classic one.

  • Quite good! There is only one problem (which, admittedly, I hadn’t thought of when I asked the question): usually we write the names of packages in a different typeface than normal text, typically in \ttfamily or in \sffamily; this would imply that your sentence wouldn’t be appropriate for displaying all lowercase letters of a given font.
    – GuM
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:09
  • @GuM Oh come on! That's really splitting hairs. Typeface doesn't change the fact that the letters are the letters. And this is a bona fide reference to LaTeX. Next think you'll be telling us that using tex or latex in the sentence doesn't count either since they should be rendered LaTeX and TeX, so that the upper case letters don't count.
    – Alan Munn
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:10
  • Yes, TeX and LaTeX should be capitalized as usual, but, apart from this, it would be preferable that the reference be not so explicit. The spirit of the question is to find a witty variant of the classical “The quick brown fox…” that mention ducks while, at the same time, alluding to TeX…
    – GuM
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:24
  • @GuM Well I'm glad I didn't use them, then. :)
    – Alan Munn
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:33
  • The classic one has 34 lowercase letters: yours is actually one letter shorter!
    – GuM
    Apr 1, 2018 at 23:46
  • The Oxford dictionary for marmots does not know about the word "breqn". ;-)
    – user121799
    Apr 2, 2018 at 0:56
  • @marmot alias OED='texdoc'
    – Alan Munn
    Apr 2, 2018 at 1:03
  • 'tis still inglish 'innit?
    – percusse
    Apr 2, 2018 at 13:12
  • @GuM That objection seems ill-conceived for the reason Alan Munn gave. I expected your objection to be that the sentence is not English because it isn't.
    – cfr
    Apr 3, 2018 at 3:12
  • @cfr Of course it's English. Package names are names, and names are arbitrary strings. And package names by convention (unlike proper names of people) are not capitalized, since they are case-sensitive when used. So this is no different from the sentence "A jive duck with zany plumage foxes Bob" which is, of course, English.
    – Alan Munn
    Apr 3, 2018 at 3:32
  • @AlanMunn But then I think some of the rejected suggestions in the comments on the question should be permitted, too.
    – cfr
    Apr 3, 2018 at 3:47
  • @cfr Your duck code example was very clever, but different in an important way I think: names are also conventionalized, so breqn is a name, but abfghjlmnpqrtvwxyz is something else. But this is all supposed to be fun...so I have no stake in this really.
    – Alan Munn
    Apr 3, 2018 at 3:54
  • @AlanMunn Yes, I thought you'd say that. However, I call Humpty Dumpty as an expert witness for the defence who will attest that a word means what I decide it means. By extrapolation, I will then argue that an arbitrary string means what I decide it means. I will then call a computer to show that 'words' are simply arbitrary strings with meanings. Drawing the obvious inferences, the defence will then rest its case.
    – cfr
    Apr 4, 2018 at 2:12

I have found a shorter sentence myself:

Ducks wearing pyjamas squeezed into an overfull hbox.

It contains 44 lowercase letters. By comparison, the usual

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

has 34 lowercase letters.

Edit: One letter shorter:

Eight ducks with pyjamas squeezed in an overfull box.

Also, removed jargon (“hbox”)‚

2nd Edit: 40 lowercase letters:

Eighty-two ducks jump squeezed in an overfull box.

This is something one could try to illustrate with the help of the tikzduck package…

  • I don't think the last one is grammatical. But you could save a character in the earlier one by deleting the 'd' in 'squeezed'.
    – cfr
    Apr 3, 2018 at 3:21

REVISION: A bit longer but with a marmot (and reference to latex):

Marmot vows to help best friend quacking tikz duck enjoy latex.

And for those with access to Mathematica: here is a short script that might help prevent you from getting mad.

mystring = 
  "Marmot vows to help best friend quacking tikz duck enjoy latex.";
Complement[CharacterRange["a", "z"], 
 Union[StringPartition[mystring, 1]]]
  • And the reference to TeX is 'lynx' with the 'n' removed?
    – Alan Munn
    Apr 1, 2018 at 16:06
  • @AlanMunn Not, it's the duck and the marmot. ;-)
    – user121799
    Apr 1, 2018 at 16:07
  • No, there must be a reference to TeX which is independent of ducks and marmots.
    – GuM
    Apr 1, 2018 at 21:28
  • 2
    @GuM Wait, TeX without ducks and marmots? Isn't that something very boring and sad? ;-) (BTW +1 to your answer.)
    – user121799
    Apr 1, 2018 at 21:43
  • I hate to be that fussy, but “latex” should be written “LaTeX”, according to a well-known and long-established rule of English grammar; and we said that uppercase letters don’t count… ;-)
    – GuM
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:15
  • And TikZ for that matter. (Not that I agree...).
    – Alan Munn
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:24
  • @AlanMunn: But at least, TikZ is not like the word “checkerboard” used in a riddle on the checkerboard…
    – GuM
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:55
  • @GuM Yes, but you can refer to latex the executable or the format, rather than LaTeX, the whole caboodle, so this really isn't a problem. The executable doesn't need caps anywhere.
    – cfr
    Apr 3, 2018 at 3:45

Not sure it is perfectly grammatical (or if it makes much sense), but here is a attempt with 40 letters and no jargon:

eight squab latex ducks improve frozen jetways

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