If a phrase adheres to a certain rule, then I call it a Cyclone Phrase™.

Use the examples below to find the rule. Also find the one error in the chart below. (In other words, one of the phrases below is not really a Cyclone Phrase™.)

Cyclone Phrases not Cyclone Phrases
all alone at noon by myself at twelve pm
blurb in my blog response on my online journal
deerweed and aloe lavender and honey
chic dimple attractive facial wrinkle
it is adjourned it is suspended
adored among guys loved among men
drug and dose medicine and dosage
chug our ale drink our beer
an eerie moon glyph a strange lunar symbol
biotypic fish fishes of the same genotype
bested by my mom defeated by my brother
an old bum begged an aged vagrant mooched
dehorned an elk remove a wapiti's horns
cook and dine heat and eat
an astute moron a sharp idiot
fork, cup, and dish spoon, knife, and napkin
a deformed deltoid a misshapen shoulder
blood and bile vital body fluids
blond belle light-haired beauty
anti and biotic antibiotic
choke a brute strangle a beast
our foul deed our offensive action
cenozoic deluge paleogene flood

If you liked this puzzle, try its successors:
What is a Scalable Phrase™?
What is a Triad Phrase™?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Deformed deltoid reminds me of Brian Butterfield's "bread and ham deltoids" on his Christmas pizza. Apologies if you've got no idea what I'm on about! $\endgroup$
    – Pete
    Jun 10, 2015 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ "Blond belle" is not a Cyclone Phrase™. I can't explain why. $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2015 at 21:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is one of my favorite puzzles on the site! Though I didn't manage to solve it myself, I like that you work your way up with patterns like by looking at the first letters and last letters. The property that rand al'thor guessed incorrectly correlates with the answer, and Julian Rosen almost got there. Rather than starting blankly followed by a (potential) aha moment, you feel a sense of accomplishment as you notice more and more. The negative examples were a good way to rule out the usual silly weak answers, and the paraphrases was funny. I also like the name "cyclone phrase." Keep it up! $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Jun 12, 2015 at 21:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you liked replacing the image with a markdown table, try its successors :p $\endgroup$
    – melfnt
    Jul 14 at 19:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JLee don't worry, I was joking. Also, in 2015 we did not have support for markdown tables. We started editing the word/phrase (TM) when it was introduced, but it's difficult to spot them all and it takes a long time. It's a good job for the ones seeking for an editing badge though, expecially the "excavator" one $\endgroup$
    – melfnt
    Jul 14 at 20:33

3 Answers 3


Each word in a cyclone phrase has

its letters in alphabetical order if you alternate taking them from the left and right sides. For example: dehorned --> ddeehnor, and adjourned --> addejnoru.

A cyclone phrase is made of cyclone words only. A word is called a cyclone word because it is in alphabetical order if you go around it like this:
enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ You are correct. Good job. $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jun 11, 2015 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ Wait, how is 'old' a cyclone word then? $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Jun 11, 2015 at 13:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BaileyM: It's the exception JLee mentioned. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Jun 11, 2015 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ Once again, punished for not correctly reading the question. You are, of course, correct. :) $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Jun 11, 2015 at 13:22

A Cyclone Phrase™ is one in which

for each word, the letters in the first half of the word (including the middle letter, if there is one) are in alphabetical order, and the letters in the second half of the word (again including the middle) are in reverse alphabetical order.
Example:\begin{array}{|l|l|l|}\hline\text{Word}&\text{First half}&\text{Second half}\\\hline \text{all}&\text{al}&\text{ll}\\\text{alone}&\text{alo}&\text{one}\\\text{at}&\text{a}&\text{t}\\\text{noon}&\text{no}&\text{on}\\\hline\end{array}The one exception is "an old bum begged". The word 'old' does not have this property: the first half, 'ol', is not in alphabetical order.

  • $\begingroup$ you're on the right track! $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jun 10, 2015 at 23:56
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm...I notice that in every word in a cyclone phrase that has an even number of letters, the letter just past the midpoint comes (weakly) later in the alphabet than the letter just before the midpoint $\endgroup$ Jun 11, 2015 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ Julian, you are an expert at finding another route to solutions! haha! Technically, you have the correct answer here, but can you explain it from perhaps a slightly different angle, one in which "Cyclone" seems to fit? $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jun 11, 2015 at 0:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I believe an example of a word that follows your rule but not the actual rule is "cowed". Also, "abyss". $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Jun 11, 2015 at 2:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 You were so close, AND you got the one exception, but I cannot give it to you, since Deusovi nailed it (probably with the help of your answer). $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jun 11, 2015 at 2:06

A Cyclone Phrase is one that either

contains two words which both have the same letter in the same position (e.g. "drug and dose" or "chug our ale")


contains a word in which the same letter appears the same number of places from both the start and the end (e.g. "blurb in my blog", "an astute moron")

or both. The one error is

"fork, cup, and dish" is not a Cyclone Phrase.

I got to this by wondering why it was called a Cyclone Phrase and looking for some kind of circularity or cyclicity in the letters, which led me to the ideas of alliteration and symmetry. Most of the examples have either two alliterative words ("all alone at noon") or a word starting and ending with the same letter ("cenozoic deluge"). From there, finding the actual pattern wasn't too hard.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Are you considering "ch" as a single letter? Also, wouldn't "beer" qualify "drink our beer" as a Cyclone Phrase? $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2015 at 23:39
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ ah, rand. you truly are optimized for gathering as many points as possible. perhaps i should optimize myself more like that! whether you have an answer or not, you always seem to post what you have and almost always get points for it. Although, to be fair, your answers are usually good quality, even when not spot on. The points are in answering, not in asking, the questions, right? $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jun 10, 2015 at 23:53
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee Partial answers can help others finish off, and almost-correct answers can be popular. And yeah, answer upvotes are worth twice as much as question upvotes. How do you think one gets to nearly 20k? ;-) $\endgroup$ Jun 11, 2015 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ True. Congrats on the 20K points. I did +1 this answer, but it looks like someone down-voted it. $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jun 11, 2015 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee The correct answer seems to be a cross between Julian Rosen's and mine, so hopefully this one was helpful to Deusovi! $\endgroup$ Jun 11, 2015 at 7:05

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