Text Scrambler & Brain Auto-correct


Alosmt ervey wrod in tihs scetnnee is mssepielld, but you usdernnatd it aynawy.

Thus is the effect of your brain auto-correcting the words. So long as they slightly resemble the correct one (i.e., the first and the last character are in the right place), you will be able to understand it. Mostly.

This is an easy one: Golgoe is most likely Google.
But sometimes it’s impossible to recover the word without context: trhee is there or three?

Here’s an article on this subject if you’re interested.


I’ve seen this trick on Reddit and other sites a few times, and decided to write a simple script that does the scrambling.
Click here to give it a try.


The underlying idea is that given a word, we have to scramble the middle part (without the first and the last character). Namely, given a string str, we should shuffle the order of charactes in str[1:-1].
There are, however, 2 exceptions to this rule:

  1. Non-word characters should not be included. For example, if str is “Eureka!”, we should ignore both the quotation and exclamation marks. This means that we need to locate where alphanumeric characters start and end in a word.

  2. Words to be scrambled should be longer than 3-character. This should be pretty obvious. Beware that this is after taking 1. into account, so "hi!" is really just a 2-character word and cannot be scrambled.

Finally, since we want the words to be as scrambled as possible, each time a word is scrambled, it’s compared with the orignal one; if the scrambled word turns out to be identical as before, shuffle it again. However, some words like been cannot be rendered different from its original form, so we only reshuffle it 5 times.

# A simple program to scramble words. 
# Takes input from "scramble_input.txt" and store the result in "scramble_output.txt"

import re
import random

def main():
  # Store the text file as lines in "lines"
  txtFile = open("scramble_input.txt", "r")
  lines = []
  for line in txtFile:

  outputFile = open("scramble_output.txt", "w")
  # Iterate through lines
  for line in lines:
    words = line.split()
    # Iterate through words
    for word in words:

      # Special case for word <= 3 characters
      if len(word) <= 3:
        scrWord = word
        outputFile.write(scrWord + " ")

      # Ignore any non-alphanumeric characters on either sides (head & tail)
      # (with regular expression "\w")
      # and find the first and last index of alphanumeric characters
      firstID = re.search("\w",word).start(0)
      lastID  = len(word) - 1 - re.search("\w",word[::-1]).start(0)

      wordHead = word[:firstID]
      wordBody = word[firstID:lastID+1]
      wordTail = word[lastID+1:]

      # print wordHead, wordBody, wordTail

      # Ignore wordBody that are 1-3 characters long
      if len(wordBody) <= 3:
        scrWord = word
        firstChar   = wordBody[:1]
        middleChars = wordBody[1:-1]
        lastChar    = wordBody[-1:]

        # Shuffle the middle part until it's different from the original substring
        # run it no more than 5 times; it's impossible to fulfill this criterion with
        # words like "been"
        for i in range(0, 5):
          l = list(middleChars)
          middleShuffled = ''.join(l)
          if middleShuffled != middleChars:

        # Reconstruct the word
        wordBody = firstChar + ''.join(l) + lastChar
        scrWord = wordHead + wordBody + wordTail

      # Write the final word to the file
      outputFile.write(scrWord + " ")

    # Don't forget to change line


if __name__ == "__main__":
Written on May 28, 2015