This is inspired from Luke's Two lists of favorite words.

My aunt Sally keeps this list of her favorite words tacked on the refrigerator:

  • Angel
  • Art
  • Atlas
  • Bad
  • Detail
  • Hall
  • Hand
  • Mutter
  • Rat
  • Tiger
  • Winter

My uncle Joe has this list of his favorites:

  • Boot
  • Chance
  • Frost
  • Gift
  • Kind
  • Magnet
  • Orange
  • Ring
  • Sand
  • Stern
  • Wolf

Which one of them would like the word Listen?

Hint #1:

Both my aunt and uncle had this word on their list:

a busy cat

Hint #2:

My aunt is British and my uncle is American.

Hint #3:

My aunt and uncle wanted to seem up with the times:

My aunt added "lol"
My uncle added "brb"

Hint #4

Don't look at the forest, but the trees.

Hint #5

The two lists are mutually exclusive.

Hint #6

I excluded the English tag very much on purpose

Note: No computer science knowledge is necessary to solve this, but thinking like one is helpful.

  • $\begingroup$ Fairly interesting to note: All the words on your uncle's list apart from 'Chance', 'Gift', and 'Magnet' all have a Middle English origin. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting Mark :) Your train is headed in the wrong direction though. $\endgroup$
    – Rj Geraci
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ I'm still thinking about this one... Any more hints? $\endgroup$
    – CodeNewbie
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 5:27
  • $\begingroup$ @CodeNewbie Added a bunch! $\endgroup$
    – Rj Geraci
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Hint 2 is confusing me, but all the other clues seem to fit the following rule:

Substitute letters with their place in the alphabet (i.e. a->1, b->2, ... z->26) and sum. If the sum is odd, it can go on Aunt's list, if even it can go on Uncle's. BUT... Airplane (US spelling) gives a sum of 76, whereas the British Aeroplane has a sum of 87, so these seem the wrong way round by my rule.

  • $\begingroup$ Good work! Sorry for getting that hint backwards! $\endgroup$
    – Rj Geraci
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ So, which one like the word Listen ? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 19:45

I think ...

It has something to do with how some words are preferred in American English vs British English. Aunt Sally would use 'rat' (list word) while Uncle Joe would use 'mouse'. Likewise, Uncle Joe would say 'gift' and 'boot' (list words) while Aunt Sally would say 'present' and 'shoe'. For the first hint, it is not actually the same word on both lists, because Uncle Joe would use 'aeroplane' while Aunt Sally would use 'airplane'.

By this logic, Uncle Joe would have 'listen' on his list, because the British prefer to use the phrase 'listen to me' while the Americans prefer 'hear me out' for the same activity.

I am not entirely sure about my answer because I only managed to explain a few words, but it fits very well with the hint, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

  • $\begingroup$ You were on the right track....kind of, I intentionally left the "English" tag out of the question. $\endgroup$
    – Rj Geraci
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ were on the right track? $\endgroup$
    – CodeNewbie
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ The last sentence of your first paragraph was the right track. $\endgroup$
    – Rj Geraci
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 17:19

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