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3 sequential sets of double letters?
October 31, 2007 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in websites that explain/list/provide examples of word oddities...

Yesterday, the final puzzle on Wheel of Fortune (yes, I know) was BOOKKEEPER. Pat made a throwaway comment that it was one of only 3 words in the English language that contain 3 sequential sets of double letters. How can I find out what the other two are?

In a similar vein, I remember hearing years ago that there are only two English words that use all the vowels in alphabetical sequence. I remember FACETIOUSLY was one but can't remember the other, though I do seem to remember that there was some controversy around the accuracy of this.

Is there a good resource online for things like these?
posted by widdershins to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=word+oddities
posted by jejune at 11:33 AM on October 31, 2007


Dictionary.com's trivia list is pretty good. It includes an answer to your first question as well.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:44 AM on October 31, 2007


So, it's not a web site I'm going to talk about, but about the Unix command "grep" (or "egrep" if you need slower but fancier work):

We Unix geeks can solve that sort of thing easily, often. I'm not sure what the "sequential" part means. Sequential in position in the word, or sequential in the alphabet? The first part is easy:

Sequential in the word:

cmiller@zippy:~ $ egrep '(.)\1(.)\2(.)\3' /usr/share/dict/words
bookkeeper
bookkeeper's
bookkeepers
bookkeeping
bookkeeping's

"Only three words in the English language"? Hmm.

If position doesn't matter:

cmiller@zippy:~ $ egrep '(.)\1.*(.)\2.*(.)\3' /usr/share/dict/words
Chattahoochee
Chattahoochee's
Mississippi
Mississippi's
Mississippian
Mississippians
Tallahassee
Tallahassee's
Tennessee
Tennessee's
addressee
addressee's
addressees
aggressiveness
barrenness
barrenness's
bookkeeper
bookkeeper's
bookkeepers
bookkeeping
bookkeeping's
cheerlessness
cheerlessness's
committee
committee's
committees
greenness
greenness's
heedlessness
heedlessness's
keenness
keenness's
noncommittally
possessiveness
possessiveness's
rottenness
sleeplessness
sleeplessness's
stubbornness
stubbornness's
subcommittee
subcommittees
successfully
suddenness
suddenness's
sullenness
sullenness's
unsuccessfully
whippoorwill
whippoorwill's
whippoorwills
woodenness
woodenness's
woolliness
woolliness's


If it's "blahAAblahBBblahCCblah", then that's harder. You'd need a smarter matcher. A few lines of Python would solve it.
posted by cmiller at 11:49 AM on October 31, 2007


thanks cmiller for kicking that off.

Words that have the vowels squentially:
$ grep -i "a.*e.*i.*o.*u" /usr/share/dict/words
abstemious
adventitious
facetious
facetiously
facetiousness
facetiousness's
sacrilegious
posted by jepler at 11:54 AM on October 31, 2007


Oh, of vowels. A few lines of Python...

cmiller@zippy:~ $ python
Python 2.5.1 (r251:54863, Oct 5 2007, 13:36:32)
[GCC 4.1.3 20070929 (prerelease) (Ubuntu 4.1.2-16ubuntu2)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import re
>>> for line in open("/usr/share/dict/american-english"):
... if re.search("a.*e.*i.*o.*u", line):
... print line
...
abstemious
adventitious
facetious
facetiously
facetiousness
facetiousness's
sacrilegious
posted by cmiller at 11:55 AM on October 31, 2007


Or maybe the correct answer to the second question is given by
$ grep -i "^[^aeiou]*a[^aeiou]*e[^aeiou]*i[^aeiou]*o[^aeiou]*u[^aeiou]$*" /usr/share/dict/words
abstemious
facetious
facetiously
facetiousness
facetiousness's
posted by jepler at 11:56 AM on October 31, 2007


(Heh. I first misread the vowel thing, which is why I used Python. /All/ vowels, I thought it said. Yours is better, jepler.)
posted by cmiller at 11:56 AM on October 31, 2007


By some strange coincidence, I saw that last night too. Odd that the only 30 seconds of Wheel of Fortune I've watched in the last 10 years would come up again...

Anyway, his comment caught me too, although I seem to rememeber him saying, "one of only two words in the English language with three sets of double letters". I commented to my wife that I thought I had heard that bookkeeper was the only one. Also, I don't think he explicitly said consequtive or sequential, so my explaination at the time was that the other word must not have three consecutive pairs, though cmiller seems to have disproven that
posted by jpdoane at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2007


Thx guys - I don't do any programming, so websites was more along what I was looking for. The dictionary.com trivia page was great - lots of good info along the lines of what I was looking for. If anyone has any others, keep 'em coming.

Thx!
posted by widdershins at 12:52 PM on October 31, 2007


Wikipedia, "English words with uncommon properties."
posted by futility closet at 12:53 PM on October 31, 2007


A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia. (which I posted to the blue way back in '04)
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:58 PM on October 31, 2007


This is the up-to-date version of the site Johnny Assay posted. It'll keep you amused and amazed for hours!
posted by languagehat at 3:25 PM on October 31, 2007


beekeeper
posted by kirkaracha at 3:26 PM on October 31, 2007


crap
posted by kirkaracha at 3:26 PM on October 31, 2007


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