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In the spirit of the What is a Word™/Phrase™ series started by JLee, a special brand of Phrase™ and Word™ puzzles.


If a word conforms to a special rule, I call it a Compound Word™. Use the examples in the table below to discover the rule. Each word can be tested by itself.
Compound Word™ Not Compound Word™
CYBER MONDAY
FAMINE DEATH
KOSHER JEWISH
PART FACTOR
POSTCARD SOUVENIR
RAMBUTAN JACKFRUIT
SAUCER TEACUP
STIFLING STIFLED
TACTICAL STRATEGIC
TITANIC ICEBERG

And for analysis, here is the CSV version:

Compound Word™, Not Compound Word™
CYBER, MONDAY
FAMINE, DEATH
KOSHER, JEWISH
PART, FACTOR
POSTCARD, SOUVENIR 
RAMBUTAN, JACKFRUIT
SAUCER, TEACUP
STIFLING, STIFLED
TACTICAL, STRATEGIC
TITANIC, ICEBERG

Feel free to request hints below, but I'll only release them every so often.

Hint 1:

Where are these words I've posted?

Hint 2

Another appropriate name would be Plated Words™.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, both "part" and "iceberg" broke the first thing I looked at... $\endgroup$
    – Braegh
    Dec 18, 2021 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ From the beginning my instinct has told me that this is rot13(Crevbqvp Gnoyr eryngrq. Ubjrire, vg'f abg nf fvzcyr nf 'fcryyrq jvgu ryrzrag flzobyf' nf CNEG, CBFGPNEQ, ENZOHGNA naq FGVSYVAT pnaabg or, juvyr VPRORET (na rkprcgvba) pna. 'Cyngrq' va Pyhr 2 fhttrfgf sebag-naq-onpx flzobyf, ohg guvf fgvyy qbrfa'g birepbzr zbfg bs gur ceboyrz jbeqf va gur cerivbhf fragrapr... V srry yvxr guvf vf pybfr ohg ab pvtne.) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 19, 2021 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv Same, but doesn't the [english] tag + no [knowledge] tag refute that itself? $\endgroup$ Dec 19, 2021 at 20:07

1 Answer 1

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Compound words can be distinguished with the following property:

Using the hint that these could also be called plated words, we see that the first and last letter of each compound word, when juxtaposed, form the atomic symbol for some chemical element. Moreover, when these letters are removed, the remainder of a compound word can be decomposed into juxtaposed atomic symbols.

The Compound Words

CYBER = CR (Chromium) + Y (Yttrium) + BE (Beryllium)
FAMINE = FE (Iron) + AM (Americium) + IN (Indium)
KOSHER = KR (Krypton) + OS (Osmium) + HE (Helium)
PART = PT (Platinum) + AR (Argon)
POSTCARD = PD (Palladium) + OS (Osmium) + TC (Technetium) + AR (Argon)
RAMBUTAN = RN (Radon) + AM (Americium) + B (Boron) + U (Uranium) + TA (Tantalum)
SAUCER = SR (Strontium) + AU (Gold) + CE (Cerium)
STIFLING = SG (Seaborgium) + I (Iodine) + FL (Flerovium) + IN (Indium)
TACTICAL = TL (Thallium) + AC (Actinium) + TI (Titanium) + CA (Calcium)
TITANIC = TC (Technetium) + I (Iodine) + TA (Tantalum) + NI (Nickel)

The Not Compound Words

The majority of the given Not Compound Words fail to have their first and last letters form an atomic symbol. Of those that do:
FACTOR: A is not a symbol on its own, so it must use AC, but the neither T nor TO is a valid atomic symbol
SOUVENIR: O must be Oxygen and U Uranium and V Vanadium, but neither E nor EN is a valid atomic symbol
STRATEGIC: Neither T nor TR is a valid atomic symbol

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  • $\begingroup$ Ah, that's what I've been missing! Well done for pulling together what I tried but totally missed :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 19, 2021 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv The plated hint definitely gave me the idea to try this. At first I was discouraged, since it didn't seem to differentiate, but then I got it all together :-) $\endgroup$ Dec 19, 2021 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ Great job! rot13(V jnagrq gb qb na ryrzrag-gurzrq ehyr, ohg vg arrqrq nabgure ynlre fb vg jnfa'g gbb rnfl.) $\endgroup$
    – WoomyRogue
    Dec 20, 2021 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ @WoomyRogue Yep, that dynamic is not uncommon...I like your variation! $\endgroup$ Dec 20, 2021 at 3:06

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