Here is a fun little word puzzle. The task, for as many letters of the alphabet as possible, is to find words that have the sound of the name of a letter at the start but which don’t start with that letter. To give one example, “euphemism” starts with the sound of the name of the letter U but starts with an E.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ This seems more like a game than a puzzle - it doesn't have a single solution, but it's a game of getting as many as you can. And there are several ambiguities: What counts as a word, exactly? (Does "double-u" count? "ctenophore"?) How can you tell when a word starts with the correct sound - what dialect do you use? What about if there are multiple common pronunciations, or one less common one (e.g. "ctenophore" again: it can start /tɛn-/, /tɪn-/, or /tin-/)? $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Sep 17, 2021 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ Are computer solutions allowed? $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2021 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Tacoタコス yes if you can work out to do it but do label it as a computer solution. $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Sep 17, 2021 at 21:59
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    $\begingroup$ Now do it in German ;-) $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2021 at 10:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Taco no but feel free to add a different category of answer. $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Sep 19, 2021 at 19:21

4 Answers 4


I was able to establish 4, 5 numbers and 17, 19 20 letters to meet your criteria. [1]

Note: This is my answer; I'll try again at a later date for a computer powered answer driven by WordsApi and YAWL.


1: won
2: too
4: forum
6: sics
8: ate


A: eighty
C: seal
E: aeon
F: effort
G: jeep
H: aitch
I: aye
J: gaol
K: canine
L: elm
M: important, embark
N: inn, entrance
O: aubergine
Q: cue
R: art
S: essay
U: you
X: excel
Y: why
Z: xi

1: Special thanks to @Stiv and @Simon Jenkins for pointing out an additional number and three more letters!

  • $\begingroup$ The consonants, I grant you, are definitely harder! I'm sure there must be a 'J' word beginning with a soft 'G' though I can't think of it myself :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Sep 17, 2021 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ PS I like the number additions here :) How about adding SICS and FORTITUDE (take your pick on 40 or 42 for that one!)? $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Sep 17, 2021 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv thanks! Though I’m on the fence with fortitude; simply because I’ve always pronounced it with a tuh and Google did too, so I excluded it from my answer, but I can see it, so great addition lol $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2021 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv for 'J' there's 'Gaol', the alternative/obsolete spelling of 'Jail'? $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2021 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Lawrence thanks for W! For the rest, those wouldn’t work because they start with the letter they’re intending to answer for. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2021 at 14:28

- A - Eight
- C - Seahorse
- F - Effect
- G - Jeans
- H - Aitch
- I - Eyeball
- K - Cater
- L - Elk
- M - Embrace
- N - Ensure
- Q - Cute
- R - Arson
- S - Escape
- U - Eureka
- X - Exciting
- Y - Wire

  • $\begingroup$ Bdellium? I am not sure how it is pronounced,. $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Sep 18, 2021 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ Are there any words that start pt with the sound tee at the beginning? $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Sep 18, 2021 at 4:18
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    $\begingroup$ O - aubergine, eau $\endgroup$
    – Rosie F
    Sep 18, 2021 at 10:03
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    $\begingroup$ @infinitezero ah duh! Although I'd be really curious to find a match for the completely incorrect and totally bonkers "zed" pronunciation. :P $\endgroup$
    – BruceWayne
    Sep 18, 2021 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ Z - xenophobia depending on dialect (for both Z and for xenophobia). For the other version of Z, there's an insect species called Throscodectes xederoides, but that's a stretch. $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2021 at 17:25

A: etude C: see F: effort G: jeer H: aitchbone I: eyeglasses K: cake L: element M: emboss N: enclose O: au pair Q: cuticle R: argon S: estoppel U: eustachian X: exorcist Y: wide Z: xerography


My attempt:

A: Can élan and éclat be counted? As per Oxford and MW dictionary, they are pronounced as ā-ˈlän (ay-lan) and ā-ˈklä (ay-klah) respectively. However, some might argue that they are French words. C: seam, seizure, seem, sick, F: any word starting with "ef-" e.g. effluent, G: jeans, I: any word starting with "eye". Also, eyrie. Can be pronounced as ˈaɪəri or I-ri. K: cable, L: any word starting with "el" e.g. elephant, elevate, M: any word starting with "em" e.g. embarass, N: any word starting with "en" e.g. entropy Q: any word starting with "cu" e.g. cube, cupid, R: any word starting with "ar". e.g. argon S:any word starting with "es" e.g. establish, U: the pronunciation of the letter forms a word - ""you"; Eucalyptus, Euphoria, Europe (excluding because in British English, it is pronounced as "your-ope". Thanks @alephzero). X: any word starting with "ex". e.g. exist. Y: Wide

Does Pseudonym count?

  • $\begingroup$ I don’t think your K or O examples work. $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Sep 18, 2021 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Anush Yeah, I noticed. Thanks for pointing it out. Is it ok? $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2021 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. For your last question isn’t that pronounced soo at the start? $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Sep 18, 2021 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ You can't have "establish" starting with both "a" and "s"! Also Europe is not pronounced "You-rope" in British English, it is closer to "Your-ope".. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Sep 19, 2021 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ @RobPratt I have changed the entry for A but I am not sure about the words. They seem to have French origin and some might even consider them French words. I will remove the entry if I do not seem them fit in the category. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2021 at 6:38

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