I'm starting to suspect this is some kind of gag puzzle, so before you downvote it please consider that I've considered that.

The question is "How many minutes in a second?" with the stipulation being that the answer is "a four letter word in everyday use that is not 'zero' or 'nada' or 'none'" (none of which would really be correct anyway). I've tried math answers and I've tried English answers and can't come up with a viable solution in either. Thoughts?

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ I may be acting stupid…. Couldn't it be "some"? $\endgroup$
    – AJL
    Jun 4, 2015 at 0:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Is "1/60" in everyday use? It's four characters. $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2015 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ Question could be "How many minutes in a first [of something] / second [of something] / third [of something]...? answer can be "some", "many", "more", "less"; if the restriction of 4 letter word is removed then answer can be "three" since n, e, s letters from the word "minutes" are in the word "second" $\endgroup$
    – user9174
    Jun 4, 2015 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ My answer would be "*verb", indicating that the sentence lacks a verb. $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2015 at 15:17

7 Answers 7


My best guess:

Part - a second could be described as the 60th part of a minute. So part of a minute is in a second. Also, part is a fairly common word.

My second guess would be:

Once - As you only need to be seconded once to be put in the minutes of the meeting.

  • $\begingroup$ Bit of a stretch on the second one, but I like the first! $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2015 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ I think you got it man. This is the most sensible answer I've heard yet. $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2015 at 16:47

Were you asked this question yesterday (2nd June) by any chance?

How many minutes are there in the 2nd (of a month)? Well, 1440 (60x24), same as in any other day, of course!

This and many other lateral-thinking answers can be found here. This one was the only four-character answer I could find or think of.

  • $\begingroup$ Common mistake to assume that there are 1440 x in any y, but 1380 or 1500 are also common values. $\endgroup$
    – jarnbjo
    Jun 3, 2015 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ Almost this exact question is here: facebook.com/PalosPatch/posts/994742763878006 $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2015 at 23:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Based on responses to that facebook post, the answer might be along the lines of "once" or "love". If that's the case, I think this definitely falls into this category: xkcd.com/169 $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2015 at 23:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yeah, did all of this googling and found all of these same sources (well, not the XKCD one). "1440" is not an everyday word and I'm not sure how "once" or "love" answers the question? $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2015 at 23:36

Here's a possible(yet probably wrong) answer:

Talking about longitude:
1 minute = 1 nautical mile ~ 1852 meters
Earth spins at 465.1 m/s
So it takes 4 second to move 1 minute longitude.
So Earth spins 1/4 minutes per second(one fourth or a quarter).
Thesaurus says that the possible synonyms for One fourth(or quarter) are:
part, term, quad, span

So the possible answer could be:

Part, term, quad or span


Building on @pacoverflow's answer:



The Greek numbering chart lists 'beta' as the word used to describe the number 2 in the untranslated [Greek] version of Ptolemy's Table of Chords, as in two degrees of the circle, of which there are 60 degrees in a circle and one second starts on one minute and ends on another as the second hand ticks. The table is located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptolemy%27s_table_of_chords#The_numeral_system_and_the_appearance_of_the_untranslated_table

Alternative answer:

'a sec' (asec). Also from @pacoverflow's answer. His link points to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minute_of_arc#Symbols_and_abbreviations, which lists an abbreviation of "asec" for an arcsecond, or if in two words: "a sec" (wait a sec! or wait asec!).


One minute of arc is 1/60th of a degree, which is 1/360th of a circle.

A second on a clock is 1/60th of the clock.

So one could comfortably say that there are 360 arc minutes in a second.

This permits a couple of different answers:

Year - 360 is a common approximation of the number of days in a year.


Turn - 360 degrees is, in geometry, called a "turn".


I know you said the answer is 4 letters, but here's an answer that works (and I didn't see it on the page that rand linked to):

If by minute you mean "minute of arc" and by second you mean "second of arc", then the answer can be two. This is because a minute of arc is represented by the prime (′) symbol, and a second of arc is represented by the double prime (″) symbol. There are two prime symbols inside a double prime symbol, so you could say there are two minutes of arc inside a second of arc.

This can be a 4 letter answer by translating two into French: deux.

  • $\begingroup$ 4 characters, but not a four letter word in everyday use. $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2015 at 23:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DaveKaye How about "deux" (French for 2). $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2015 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ Well...interesting answer. I can't say you're wrong but the question is asked in English, and "deux" is not a word most (non-French speaking) English speaker use on an everyday basis. $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2015 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ In that same vein "drei" would also be a valid answer, for instance. ;-) $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2015 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ "zvei," not "drei." $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2015 at 23:46


I define four new letters ('si', 'xt', 'ie', and 'th'),

then I can claim the answer is:

enter image description here


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