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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.


All the Salon Words below have a feature in common with them that none of the Not Salon Words have. Can you figure out what that special feature is?

Salon Words Not Salon Words
FACE FACIAL
EVIAN DASANI
MATER LIGHTNING
SAID SPOKEN
TAIPAN MAMBA
COUPONS VOUCHERS
SORE PAINED
RENTEE BUYER

Happy puzzling!

CSV Version:

Salon Words, Not Salon Words

FACE, FACIAL
EVIAN, DASANI
MATER, LIGHTNING
SAID, SPOKEN
TAIPAN, MAMBA
COUPONS, VOUCHERS
SORE, PAINED
RENTEE, BUYER
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UPDATED This could be a coincidence, or maybe close to the answer but not quite, but it is interesting that...

All of the Salon Words anagram to a word of French origin
- except for taipan, which anagrams to patina, which is of Italian origin, or pinata, of Spanish origin

Whereas for Not Salon Words:

Only 'dasani' and 'buyer' anagram to anything; 'naiads' which is of Greek origin and 'rebuy' which is old English. The rest don't seem to anagram at all (subject to choice of dictionary).

So perhaps

A Salon word is a word that anagrams to another English word of French or Italian (or Spanish if we use Pinata instead of Patina) origin. Perhaps in linguistic terms these are a common group.

However, you may have noticed that most of these words

Can be written with an accent mark/diacritic, for example naïve, piñata, café, etc. I originally considered this, but ruled it out with 'rose' which WAS of French origin, but old French rose seemed to have no diacritic.

Upon further consideration

The French rose derives from old English rōse, and it seems in some French there is even rosé. Further, SORE could anagram to EROS which comes from the Greek erōs.

So in the end it seems possible that is a salon word is one which

anagrams to a word which, in the process of forming modern English, retained its exact spelling but the diacritic was "trimmed off" as in, got a haircut at a salon. With many of these words, perhaps all? it is even still considered proper English to retain the diacritic, but here it is simply missing, although I am not sure if that is relevant or a more correct answer. For example, perhaps all Salon words also have an English equivalent that traditionally had a diacritic, but again I'm stuck at sore. There may be a word in modern English with a diacritic that it anagrams to, but am not sure.

Full list:

face > cafe
evian > naive
mater > armet
said > dais
taipan > pinata
coupons > soupcon
sore > rose or eros
rentee > entree

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  • $\begingroup$ You have the right idea, but there's an added detail about the words that you have failed to see... $\endgroup$ – TakingNotes Mar 24 at 6:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You need to rot13(nqq na npprag/qvnpevgvp)... :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Mar 24 at 7:22
  • $\begingroup$ Seems likely. I did notice that on several of the words and considered it but I didn't have strong enough skills to take it farther, for example gave up on rose which I had no idea how to arrange it to a word requiring one. Maybe someone else can figure out the whole list, if that holds true. $\endgroup$ – Amoz Mar 24 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Okay I think I see where I went wrong with sore. Maybe I'll take another stab at this. $\endgroup$ – Amoz Mar 24 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ Good job on spotting the connection between accents! However one of your anagrams is incorrect, and the reasoning behind one is incorrect. Maybe I was just a little drunk while composing the puzzle though... $\endgroup$ – TakingNotes Mar 24 at 20:01

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