I am unable to come up with a complete solution. No outside knowledge is said to be required for the solution to this puzzle.

My observations:

  1. words which are not without a prefix only have ré as their prefix.
  2. words whose meaning remains the same with or without a prefix have ré as a prefix.
  3. words which don't include m and only 'a lot of' n have ré as their prefix.

None of these lead to a complete solution. How can this be solved?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think you will have more fun solving this than having someone tell you the answer, but here are a couple of leads. 1. Rather than looking at "same meaning or not", look at "meaning 'X again' or not". 2. There are a couple of different rules, depending on something about the form of the word being prefixed. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Jul 30, 2021 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ yeah but the word 'to publish' is a contradiction to this rule, right? most of them of that sort contain re but this one contains ré.. $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2021 at 13:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ That's where point 2 comes in. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Jul 30, 2021 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ This challenge is a lot less fun for someone who already knows all the French words :( $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    Jul 30, 2021 at 15:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Stef Our challenge is to come up with troll examples, like habituer and ouvrir. $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2021 at 23:13

2 Answers 2


so this is what I have come up with.

  1. each word which is not without a prefix has ré as its prefix
  2. words whose meaning are unchanged by adding a prefix have ré as their prefix
  3. if adding a prefix just means to repeat the action denoted by that word:

a)it starts with a vowel, then its prefix is ré

b)else, it contains re as its prefix

  • $\begingroup$ What does "which is not without a prefix" mean? $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    Jul 31, 2021 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ Is this meant to be a full answer to your question, or just an update in your thinking? The answer section is only for answers. Updates should be edits to your question $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jul 31, 2021 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is a full answer..i would be glad if you could verify if this really is the case, though... $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2021 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ @stef, whose prefixless version does not exist.. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2021 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @stef since you are a French speaker, could you tell me why refaire doesn't equal repeat since fair is 'to do'?refaire should mean 'to do again' shouldn't it? $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2021 at 17:37

I’ve taken 5 years of French and I’m a French major in college. As for the puzzle, here’s the most streamlined rule that I was able to come up with: Words that mean to do something once such as répandre (to spread) have an accent grave on the prefix. Words that mean to do something again such as remettre (redo) do not have the accent. Think of the re as a separate morpheme. When the morpheme is tacked onto the front to change the meaning, there is no accent. When the re is simply a part of the main morpheme, use an accent. Does this help?


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