A sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet.

ie: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

A pangram is a sentence or block of text that contains all the letters of the alphabet. In English a pangram must be at least 26 letters long, although they must often be longer in order to make a grammatical sentence. In Spanish they are at least 29 letters long, assuming you include the two digraphs ll and ch (as the Spanish alphabet is wont to do). A full Hindi pangram would have a minimum of 58 characters. A Chinese pangram would have over 47,000 characters. There aren't very many Chinese pangrams.

Pangrams are most traditionally used in typography to demonstrate the appearance of text in context; these days they may be used to check the graphics display of screens. They are also used as typing exercises, although these days pangrams are more often viewed as a form of word game. The most famous pangram in English is "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", which has been around since at least 1908 when it appeared in Robert Baden-Powell's book Scouting for Boys, where it was used to practice signalling .

There are millions of other pangrams (literally!). Here are some of them:

'Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs'.

'Waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex Bud'.

'Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz'.

'Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim'.

And most impressive, "Mr. Jock, TV quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx", which uses only 26 letters, as does 'Cwm, fjord bank glyphs vex't quiz'.

And here are some in other languages:

French:
'Whisky vert: jugez cinq fox d'aplomb'.
'Portez ce vieux bon whiskys au juge blond qui fume'.
'Voyez le brick géant que j'examine près du wharf'.

German:
'Zwei boxkämpfer jagen Eva quer durch Sylt'.
'Franz jagt im komplett verwahrlosten Taxi quer durch Bayern'.

Dutch:
'Zweedse ex-VIP, behoorlijk gek op quantumfysica'.
'Sexy qua lijf, doch bang voor het zwempak'.
'Pa's wijze lynx bezag vroom het fikse aquaduct'.

Latin:
'Gaza frequens Libycos duxit Karthagos tripumphos'.

Spanish:
'Jovencillo emponzoñado de whisky, qué mala figurota exhibes'. (Thanks to tres equis for this one).

One measure of a pangram's quality is its shortness. Obviously in English the shortest possible pangram is 26 letters long, however very short pangrams tend to be nonsensical and it seems near-impossible to come up with a meaningful 26-letter pangram. For example, the following have 31 and 30 letters respectively:

The five boxing wizards jump quickly.

How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.

...and the only minimal pangram I've seen (before Tem42's example above (which some might disallow because of the abbreviations)) is this one:

Vext cwm fly zing jabs Kurd qoph.

As you might have guessed, many of these words are archaic English. The sentence means, approximately, "An annoyed fly in a valley, humming shrilly, pokes at the nineteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet that was drawn by a Kurd". Now I've always wanted a succinct way to say that.

Source: Weird and Wonderful Words (The Bedside Companion for Insomniacs), Paul Hellweg, David & Charles 1986, ISBN 0-7153-9084-8.

Pangrams are beloved of typographers because one can neatly show all the letters of a font. Apple's System 7 font display window shows:

How razorback-jumping frogs can level six piqued gymnasts!

Here's one with only 29 letters, involving Jim again:

Quick wafting zephyrs vex bold Jim.

...and a couple of my favorites:

Playing jazz vibe chords quickly excites my wife.
Mix Zapf with Veljovic and get quirky Beziers.
Sympathizing would fix Quaker objectives.

An extreme (but of course not complete) list of English language pangrams:

Quick wafting zephyrs vex bold Jim.
Sphinx of black quartz judge my vow.
Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim.
How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.
Waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex Bud.
The five boxing wizards jump quickly.
Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz.
Mr. Jock, TV quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx.
Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
Sympathizing would fix Quaker objectives.
Five big quacking zephyrs jolt my wax bed.
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Jail zesty vixen who grabbed pay from quack.
Many-wived Jack laughs at probes of sex quiz.
Mix Zapf with Veljovic and get quirky Beziers.
Dumpy kibitzer jingles as exchequer overflows.
Puzzled women bequeath jerks very exotic gifts.
Turgid saxophones blew over Mick's jazzy quiff.
Brawny gods just flocked up to quiz and vex him.
Viewing quizzical abstracts mixed up hefty jocks.
Playing jazz vibe chords quickly excites my wife.
Jim just quit and packed extra bags for Liz Owen.
Five wine experts jokingly quizzed sample chablis.
William Jex quickly caught five dozen Republicans.
Martin J. Hixeypozer quickly began his first word.
Many big jackdaws quickly zipped over the fox pen.
A large fawn jumped quickly over white zinc boxes.
Big July earthquakes confound zany experimental vow.
Exquisite farm wench gives body jolt to prize stinker.
Six big devils from Japan quickly forgot how to waltz.
The vixen jumped quickly on her foe barking with zeal.
Five or six big jet planes zoomed quickly by the tower.
Crazy Frederick bought many very exquisite opal jewels.
My grandfather picks up quartz and valuable onyx jewels.
Quixotic Republicans vet first key zero-growth jeremiad.
Six crazy kings vowed to abolish my quite pitiful jousts.
How razorback-jumping frogs can level six piqued gymnasts!
A sentence that uses each of the letters in its language is called a pangram.

In English, there are 26 letters. A 26-letter pangram using words listed in the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary is:

Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz.

Its interpretation is roughly "Glyphs on the bank of the fjord leading into the mountain valley (some say cirque, see cwm) puzzled the eccentric."

vext is a rare but acceptable alternate form of vexed. Definition #2 of quiz is being used.

This is from a late 1970's issue of Games and Puzzles magazine. It also gave a few other less memorable solutions, possibly including the other 26-letter English pangrams on E2, Quartz glyph job vex'd cwm finks and Vext cwm fly zing jabs Kurd qoph. The fact that so many optimal pangrams exist in English results mainly from its highly complex and flexible grammar, and the borrowing of so many words from other languages.
And in addition to mblase's Extreme list of Pangrams:

A mad boxer shot a quick, gloved jab to the jaw of his dizzy opponent.

A quick movement of the enemy will jeopardize six gunboats.

About sixty codfish eggs will make a quarter pound of very fizzy jelly.

Alfredo just must bring very exciting news to the plaza quickly.

All questions asked by five watch experts amazed the judge.

An inspired calligrapher can create pages of beauty using stick ink, quill, brush, pick-axe, buzz saw, or even strawberry jam.

Astronaut Quincy B. Zack defies gravity with six jet fuel pumps.

Back in June we delivered oxygen equipment of the same size.

Back in my quaint garden jaunty zinnias vie with flaunting phlox.

Blowzy red vixens fight for a quick jump.

Breezily jangling $3,416,857,209 wise advertiser ambles to the bank, his exchequer amplified.

Cozy sphinx waves quart jug of bad milk.

Ebenezer unexpectedly bagged two tranquil aardvarks with his jiffy vacuum cleaner.

Fabled reader with jaded, roving eye seized by quickened impulse to expand budget.

Five wine experts jokingly quizzed chablis sample.

Fjord nymphs' XV beg quick waltz.

Fjord-vext cwm-bank glyphs quiz.

For only $49, jolly housewives made "inexpensive" meals using quick-frozen vegetables.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

Fred specialized in the job of making very quaint wax toys.

Freight to me sixty dozen quart jars and twelve black pans.

Grumpy wizards make toxic brew for the evil Queen and Jack.

Hark! Toxic jungle water vipers quietly drop on zebras for meals!

How jolly vexing a fumble to drop zucchini in the quicksand!

How vexing a fumble to drop a jolly zucchini in the quicksand.

Jack amazed a few girls by dropping the antique onyx vase!

Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.

Jay visited back home and gazed upon a brown fox and quail.

Jeb quickly drove a few extra miles on the glazed pavement.

Jelly-like above the high wire, six quaking pachyderms kept the climax of the extravaganza in a dazzling state of flux.

Jimmy and Zack, the police explained, were last seen diving into a field of buttered quahogs.

July earthquakes confound zany experimental vow.

Just keep examining every low bid quoted for zinc etchings.

Just work for improved basic techniques to maximize your typing skill.

King Alexander was just partly overcome after quizzing Diogenes in his tub.

Lazy movers quit hard-packing of papier-mache jewelry boxes.

May Jo equal the fine record by solving six puzzles a week?

Murky haze enveloped a city as jarring quakes broke fourty-six windows.

My help squeezed back in again and joined the weavers after six.

My help squeezed in again after six and joined the weavers.

New farm hand (picking just six quinces) proves strong but lazy.

New farmhand proves strong but lazy, picking just six quinces.

No kidding, Lorenzo called off his trip to visit Mexico City just because they told him the conquistadores were extinct.

Now is the time for all brown dogs to jump over the lazy lynx.

Perhaps President Clinton's amazing sax skills will be judged quite favorably.

Portez ce vieux whisky au juge blond qui fume.

Questions of a zealous nature have become by degrees petty waxen jokes.

Quick jigs for waltz vex bad nymph.

Six big juicy steaks sizzled in a pan as five workmen left the quarry.

Six quite crazy kings vowed to abolish my pitiful jousts.

Sixty zippers were quickly picked from the woven jute bag.

Squdgy fez, blank jimp crwth vox!

Suez sailor vomits jauntily abaft while waxing parquet decks.

The exodus of jazzy pigeons is craved by squeamish walkers.

The job of waxing linoleum frequently peeves chintzy kids.

The juke box music puzzled a gentle visitor from a quaint valley town.

The July sun caused a fragment of black pine wax to ooze on the velvet quilt.

The July sun caused a fragment of pine wax to ooze on the black velvet quilt.

The risque gown maked a very brazen exposure of juicy flesh.

The sex life of the woodchuck is a provocative question for most vertebrate zoology majors.

Two hardy boxing kangaroos jet from Sydney to Zanzibar on quicksilver pinions.

Verbatim reports were quickly given by Jim Fox to his amazed audience.

Verily the dark ex-Jew quit Zionism, preferring the cabala.

Was there a quorum of able whizzkids gravely exciting the jaded fish at ATypI?

Watch all five questions asked by experts amaze the judge.

We have just quoted on nine dozen boxes of gray lamp wicks.

We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize.

West quickly gave Bert handsome prizes for six juicy plums.

When we go back to Juarez, Mexico, do we fly over picturesque Arizona?

While waxing parquet decks, Suez sailors vomit jaunitly abaft.

Will Major Douglas be expected to take this true-false quiz very soon?

William said that everything about his jacket was in quite good condition except for the zipper.

Some folks may think Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs references a typical Saturday night in a college town. I saw that sentence most every day on a green-screen, vector-graphics monitor located in a US Navy SH-60B helicopter.

"Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs" contains every letter of the alphabet. It was used to test the graphics driver on the monitors, and to make sure every letter appeared normally. For most computer users, this is not too much of an issue, but for the military, accidently classifying a Destroyer-class surface ship as a Soviet first-strike submarine could cause a few issues further up the chain of command. If the letters were off, or if they were distorted, we would have to replace the monitor. Luckily, two allen-wrench screws later, and you'd have the monitor in your lap. A quick swap, and the helo would be on its way to play hide and seek with dangerous toys.

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