Eduardo is having a dream the night before his English quiz. Actually it's a nightmare. His teacher hands him the quiz and says "Hello, Eduardo. To wake up confident and rested, just answer this three-part question correctly." Eduardo reads over the quiz and is puzzled, angry, frustrated, and very, very tired, but he sees no way out of his dream other than acing the quiz.

QUESTION: Your three-letter "Dream Word" is _ _ _ and the two clues hidden in this puzzle are ___ and ___ .


  1. One letter of the Dream Word is the letter preceding the letter with the optional accent in a vocabulary entry that ends with an apostrophe.

  2. Another letter of the Dream Word is the first letter of the first name of the author of an American and British bestseller, written in English. It was first published (intentionally) in a foreign-language translation about a month before it came out in English.

  3. Another letter of the Dream Word is the first letter of the strange odd-man-out among these pairs:

adapt/adaptive, abuse/abusive, conduct/conductive,
convulse/convulsive, corrode/corrosive, corrupt/corruptive,
deceive/deceptive, elude/elusive, expend/expensive,
explode/explosive, induct/inductive, misuse/misusive,
protect/protective, reduce/reductive, repulse/repulsive

  1. Each of the two hidden clues is a single word. Together, they will confirm that your Dream Word is correct.

Additional Clues

The following hints are not strictly required to solve the puzzle but were added to aid in the process.

5. Additional clue:

The first letter of the (English) name of the foreign language in Clue (2) is, by coincidence, the same as the first letter of the author's first name, and this is not a Romance language.

6. Additional clue:

About Clue (3): 30 29

7. Additional clue:

The vocabulary entry in Clue (1) is a noun.

8. Additional clues:

The book title in Clue (2) is that of another work, which is central to the book's plot.

9. Additional clue:

If you count only the letters in the answer to clue (1), they total seven. Each is different from the others and, by coincidence, the last letter is the same letter as in Clue (5).

10. Additional clue:

The optional accent in Clue (1) is one you know, but not a diaeresis (umlaut), grave accent, acute accent, tilde, overring, or cedilla.

11. Additional clue:

Eduardo has just turned in his quiz and reports that his Dream Word can be anagrammed to only one other English word.

12. Additional clue:

Don't just stare at Clue (3); do some work!

13. Additional clue:

The first word in the title of the translated book in Clue (2) is an anagram of the first word in the English title.

14. Additional clue:

A little birdie gave Eduardo a big hint: The first word of the book title is The.

15. Final additional clue:

Clue (14) is actually two clues about the book title.

  • $\begingroup$ Should we or should we not be assuming that the three letters of the Dream Word are given in order by 1,2,3? (My current assumption is that we should not.) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ Incidentally, in your previous question I had a vocabulary-entry-ending-in-apostrophe that doesn't have any letter with an optional accent... $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan (1) The clues make no mention of order and refer to "one/another letter," so they may or may not be in order; (2) Let's wait until there is a correct answer to learn your word, just in case :) $\endgroup$
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:14

2 Answers 2


Final Answer: MAD with in-question clues "angry" and "Krazy". Maître d' for the vocabulary entry gives A. "The Goldfinch" or "Het puttertje" by Donna Tartt, first published in Dutch, gives D. And misusive is the only non-word in the list, which gives M.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DjinTonic It might actually be more helpful to say how much JM has got right here. If an answer is expected to have all parts correct before you will confirm it is so, this puzzle could end up putting people off answering or attracting a series of partially-correct-but-not-known-to-be-so answers, neither of which is ideal. $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ Could the second clue word (instead of rot13(sehfgengrq) be rot13(fgenatr) instead? As being somewhat related to the other definition of your word?) $\endgroup$
    – El-Guest
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ @El-Guest I will only reiterate that Clue (4) refers to two different words, which, taken together, should give you great confidence that your Dream Word is correct. P.S. I'm new here -- can you please explain the rot... part? Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks djintonic, I deleted the comment $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 20:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JonathanMichala I was pretty sure the last clue would do the trick, which is why I labeled it Final Clue :-) $\endgroup$
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 19:41

Here are the answers to Clues 1-4, followed by the answer to Eduardo's quiz question:

Answer to Clue 1:

maître d' or maitre d' (n. plural maître d's or maitre d's), short for maître d'hôtel. I used vocabulary entry in the clue rather than word to avoid any ambiguity about the meaning and to suggest that the answer might not be a single word in the usual sense.

Answer to Clue 2:

Donna Tartt's novel The Goldfinch was published in 2013 and won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for literature. The title is the name of a 1654 painting by the Dutch artist Carel Fabritius that figures predominantly in the plot. In homage to this Dutch connection and probably as a means of generating prepublication reviews and anticipation, the Dutch translation was released a month before the novel came out in English.

Answer to Clue 3:

At first blush there appear to be 30 words arranged in 15 verb/adjective pairs. However, you can make a good case that there are only 29 because misusive isn't a bona fide word at all. It occurs very rarely in print and you won't find it in your dictionary or mine. (Try thinking of a definition and an illustrative example sentence before checking out the print examples I did manage to find.) Regardless of one's opinion about the legitimacy of misusive, being ignored by dictionaries and writers makes this pair the odd man out.

Answer to Clue 4:

Only two combinations of the three letters in the Dream Word are words. The puzzle contains hints for two different meanings of one of the words: Krazy and angry.

Eduardo woke up as promised after he turned in this correct answer to his Quiz Question:

Your three-letter "Dream Word" is mad and the two clues hidden in this puzzle are Krazy and angry. Also see ref.


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