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When I am by myself, I'm negative.
Give me 2, and I'll read the same.
But if you halve me, I always seem surprised.
Tack on a cliff, and I become smarter.
A dreaded word I am...

What am I?

The answer is a single word.

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I think you are the word:

NO

When I am by myself, I'm negative.

The word NO is used to give a negative response.

Give me 2, and I'll read the same.

Add 2 letters (specifically, a K at the front and a W at the back) and you have the word KNOW, a homophone when read aloud.

But if you halve me, I always seem surprised.

Half of 'NO' is merely O, which sounds like 'oh', an expression of surprise.

Tack on a cliff, and I become smarter.

Add LEDGE (a cliff) and you have NOLEDGE or KNOWLEDGE, something which makes a person smarter.

A dreaded word I am...

People rarely wish to hear a response of 'NO' when they make a request or ask a question. Unless of course the question is "What is an abbreviation for 'number'?" or "Who was that Dr from the James Bond film...?"

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Nice exceptions at the end, haha $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Mar 15 at 16:08

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