Wednesday, 9 July 2008

RIDDLE for Today

This is one of the most common riddles to circulate on the Internet; indeed, it has been claimed as one of the greatest riddles ever. Note I used the word riddle rather than puzzle or question. If it were a question it would have an answer. In fact, there is no answer. There are only two words in common usage in the English language that end in ‘gry’ – hungry and angry.

A further problem is that over the years the whole point of the riddle has been lost and the wording changed so that it no longer makes sense. The original wording, which was undoubtedly designed to be spoken, was probably something like this –

Think of words ending in –GRY. Hungry and Angry are two of them. There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? It is something used every day. Indeed, if you have been listening carefully I have already given you it.

In other words, this is a variant on the “Constantinople is a very long word, spell it” sort of riddle. The simple answer is IT. The equally simple answer to the riddle as worded above is “Language”, being the third word of ‘the English language’.

For those who might have been scuttling around looking for a third word that ends in –gry I might point out that there are a few but none qualifies because they are not in common usage. Among the uncommon words are –

aggry – ancient glass beads
begry – obsolete spelling of beggary
conyngry – obsolete spelling of conynger – a rabbit warren
gry – a unit of measurement used by John Locke in 1690.
higry-pigry – one of a number of spellings of the Greek ‘hiera picra’ – a medicine.
iggry – early 20th century British army slang for ‘Hurry Up’
meagry – obsolete word for meagre looking
menagry – obsolete spelling of menagerie
nangry – obsolete variant of angry
podagry – obsolete word for gout
pugry – alternative spelling of puggaree – a light turban
skugry – obsolete variant of the word scuggery meaning secrecy

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