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In the spirit of the What is a Word™/Phrase™ series started by JLee, a special brand of Phrase™ and Word™ puzzles.


If a word conforms to a special rule, I call it a Rainbow Word™. The ones given here are particularly strong examples, to help you out, and while the order of Rainbow Words™ doesn't matter at all for the rule, I put these examples in a special order for you!

Use the examples below to find the rule:

Rainbow Words ™ Not Rainbow Words ™
SCARED CALMED
ZEBRAS HORSES
SERIAL KILLER
LIVING UNDEAD
CANADA FRANCE
FEMALE MALE
EFFECT RESULT
BOBBLE BOUNCE
CYBORG PERSON
WIGGLE QUIVER

And, in CSV form:

Rainbow Word™,Not Rainbow Word™
SCARED,CALMED
ZEBRAS,HORSES
SERIAL,KILLER
LIVING,UNDEAD
CANADA,FRANCE
FEMALE,MALE
EFFECT,RESULT
BOBBLE,BOUNCE
CYBORG,PERSON
WIGGLE,QUIVER

Each word can be tested for whether it is a Rainbow Word™ without relying on the other words. These are not the only examples of Rainbow Words™; many more exist.

What is the special rule these words conform to?

Hint to start you off:

I'm a programmer, so a required step should be done the "programmer way."

Another hint (Day 2):

Lots of references to colors in this puzzle, aren't there? How do computers display colors?

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  • $\begingroup$ Does this require in-depth knowledge of programming? $\endgroup$ – Smartest1here Dec 9 '20 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ hahaha "bobble" and "cyborg" :p $\endgroup$ – matt Dec 10 '20 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Sciborg would [knowledge] or [computer-science] be appropriate tags here? $\endgroup$ – bobble Dec 10 '20 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ The solution doesn't require any deep knowledge of computer science at all - there is just one key concept that is generally common knowledge, especially if you've used art software like MS Paint, GIMP, or Photoshop. $\endgroup$ – Sciborg Dec 10 '20 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ I think I get what the "key concept" is, but still I'm failing to see how to apply that to those words :( $\endgroup$ – Bubbler Dec 10 '20 at 2:38
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I think the answer is

If you group a 6-letter Rainbow Word into 3 pairs of letters, convert each letter to A=0, B=1, ..., Z=25 (0-based indexing in the programming world), and concatenate the numbers in each pair, you get a valid RGB color value written in decimal, as in (0, 0, 0) being black and (255, 255, 255) being white. The requirement is that all three numbers that represent R, G, B respectively must be between 0 and 255 inclusive.

Example:
- SCARED = 18 2 0 17 4 3 = (182, 17, 43) (ignore leading zeros) = red color
- CALMED = 2 0 11 12 4 3 = (20, 1112, 43) = not a valid color

If you use 1-based indexing instead (so A=1, ..., Z=26), the pattern doesn't work for ZEBRAS.

Proof of Rainbow Words (and why they're in special order):

SCARED = 18 2 0 17 4 3 = (182, 17, 43) = red
ZEBRAS = 25 4 1 17 0 18 = (254, 117, 18) = orange
SERIAL = 18 4 17 8 0 11 = (184, 178, 11) = dark yellow (olive?)
LIVING = 11 8 21 8 13 6 = (118, 218, 136) = light green
CANADA = 2 0 13 0 3 0 = (20, 130, 30) = dark green
FEMALE = 5 4 12 0 11 4 = (54, 120, 114) = dark cyan
EFFECT = 4 5 5 4 2 19 = (45, 54, 219) = blue
BOBBLE = 1 14 1 1 11 4 = (114, 11, 114) = violet
CYBORG = 2 24 1 14 17 6 = (224, 114, 176) = pink
WIGGLE = 22 8 6 6 11 4 = (228, 66, 114) = pink-red

So the colors represented by the words are in the rainbow order, or more precisely, in the order of appearance in the color wheel! You can check each color by entering the RGB values on this site, and the "hue" value is the position (angle) of that color in the color wheel.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yup :) great job! $\endgroup$ – Sciborg Dec 10 '20 at 4:38

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