Divide these sixteen words into four groups based on something they have in common. You'll find that each of the four groups gives you a clue leading to something in particular. The words aren't in any particular order.


Once you've figured out the groups and the thing the wall is cluing, answer me this: What is small and causes problems?

This puzzle is dedicated to @matt/@merrybot, with permission!

Hint #1:

The groups are cluing something to do with Matt's favorite media franchise.


2 Answers 2


Deus has found the groups already (go check out his answer) but if we rearrange the order they're in we get:

D, S, 9, Trials.

which is a reference to

the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribble-ations.

What're small and cause problems?

Tribbles: alien furballs born pregnant; they reproduce very quickly.

  • $\begingroup$ (Title was also a reference to the TOS episode that introduced Tribbles, "The Trouble with Tribbles." :D) $\endgroup$
    – Sciborg
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ ohhhh I didn't even notice that lol $\endgroup$
    – matt
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 19:08

Group 1:

The words RUGGED, ANGER, EVIL, and WELL can all have the letter D prepended to them to form new words. (DRUGGED, DANGER, DEVIL, DWELL.)

Group 2:

The words PACE, TAR, HIP, and HOOT can all have the letter S put on both sides to make new words. (SPACES, STARS, SHIPS, SHOOTS.)

Group 3:

The words WADE, SCOPES, BROWN, and WITCH are all famous trial participants. (Roe v. Wade, Tennessee v. Scopes, Brown v. Board of Education, and the Salem witch trials.)

Group 4:

The words CLOUD, PLANETS, FLUORINE, and LIVES are all associated with the number 9. ("Cloud nine", there were considered to be 9 planets until 2006, Fluorine is the 9th element, and cats are said to have 9 lives.)

One possible thing that the wall could be cluing is

a HOLE? Both DHOLE and SHOLES are words (though neither is particularly common); golf courses have nine holes in each half; and there do seem to be many court cases involving someone with a name of Hole, though I can't find any notable ones. And of course, this answers the riddle - a small hole (in your clothing, for instance, or perhaps a submarine) can certainly cause problems!

  • $\begingroup$ Not that it really changes anything, but rot13: jul qvq lbh nqq F gb obgu fvqrf sbe tebhc gjb? Jbhyqa'g whfg nqqvat na F gb gur ortvaavat nyfb jbex? $\endgroup$
    – samm82
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 6:33
  • $\begingroup$ @samm82 Yes, it would! When I saw the more specific connection, I used it to rule out at least one other entry, so I figured it might be the intended one. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ Oh I see - rot13: Ohg vs lbh ehyrq bhg jvgpu orpnhfr "fjvgpuf" vfa'g n jbeq, gung qbrfa'g rkcynva jryy/fjryyf sebz tebhc bar $\endgroup$
    – samm82
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 6:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @samm82 Yes, it's not a rule that each group only has four words that fit it -- just that all of the groups together should have exactly one way to satisfy them. It's very possible that the looser version was the intended one. My choice was a guess, not a deduction. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 6:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think probably rot13(Gevnyf naq Gevooyr-ngvbaf). $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 12:22

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