This is in the spirit of the What is a Word/Phrase™ series started by JLee with a special brand of Phrase™ and Word™ puzzles.

If a word conforms to a special rule, I call it a First Word™.
Use the examples below to find the rule.

$$ % \def\Pad{\P{0.0}} \def\Title{\textbf{ First }} % \def\S#1#2{\Space{#1}{20px}{#2px}}\def\P#1{\V{#1em}}\def\V#1{\S{#1}{9}} \def\T{\Title\textbf{Words}^{\;\!™}\Pad}\def\NT{\Pad\textbf{Not}\T\ } \smash{\lower{29px}\bbox[lightblue]{\phantom{\rlap{rubio.2019.05.15}\S{6px}{0} \begin{array}{cc}\Pad\T&\NT\\\end{array}}}}\atop\def\V#1{\S{#1}{5}} \begin{array}{|c|c|}\hline\Pad\T&\NT\\\hline % \text{ first}&\text{ third}\\ \hline \text{ saturn}&\text{jupiter}\\ \hline \text{ dog}&\text{turtle}\\ \hline \text{ put}&\text{out}\\ \hline \text{ washington}&\text{paris}\\ \hline \text{ red}&\text{black}\\ \hline \text{ thought}&\text{ though}\\ \hline \text{ cork}&\text{ cook}\\ \hline \text{ conundrum}&\text{ puzzle}\\ \hline \text{ astonishment}&\text{ surprise}\\ \hline \text{ bar}&\text{foo}\\ \hline \text{ invalid}&\text{valid}\\ \hline \text{ auto}&\text{mobile}\\ \hline \text{ plot}&\text{agitates}\\ \hline \hline \end{array}$$

CSV version:

First Words™,   Not First Words™

first,          third
saturn,         jupiter
dog,            turtle
put,            out
washington,     paris
red,            black
thought,        though
cork,           cook
conundrum,      puzzle
astonishment,   surprise
bar,            foo
invalid,        valid
auto,           mobile
plot,           agitates

What is the special rule these words conform to?


Trivially, pizza, apple, macaroni, burrito, tofu are not First Words. However, ale is one. Why is that?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ of course "first" is a First Word :P $\endgroup$
    – matt
    Oct 5, 2020 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ Is it that they all end with a comma? $\endgroup$ Oct 6, 2020 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ I added an interesting case of a First Word $\endgroup$
    – Keelhaul
    Oct 6, 2020 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Keelhaul I think you should add at least one pair that invalidates my solution. As it stands it still works. $\endgroup$ Oct 6, 2020 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Paul Panzer You're right, I added the examples I gave you in the comments $\endgroup$
    – Keelhaul
    Oct 6, 2020 at 7:40

1 Answer 1


Update: Got it at last:

first = prime

Write 1 for consonants and 0 for vowels, read as binary number and check whether the result is prime.

  • $\begingroup$ You got it, well done ;) $\endgroup$
    – Keelhaul
    Oct 10, 2020 at 19:44

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