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If a word has a certain property, I call it a Versatile Word™.

In each of the short, unrelated sentences below, only one of the choices is a Versatile Word™.

The sentences are for context only, and do not affect whether a word is a Versatile Word™.

  1. She ate a ( peach / pear ).
  2. He ( boats / sails ) in the summer.
  3. She ( circles / loops ) around the building.
  4. He ( fires / shoots ) his weapon.
  5. He ( aids / helps ) his sister.
  6. They wanted to go ( also / too ).
  7. This air always contains ( dust / ions ).
  8. The best ( coffee / tea ) comes from India.
  9. The vet will ( neuter / spay ) the cat.
  10. The gang will ( loot / raid ) the store.
  11. She said ( bye / ciao ) and left.
  12. Only the ( ash / soot ) remained.

What makes a word a Versatile Word™?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm sad there's no fancy chart this time around. I suspect it's because indicating which of the words is a Versatile Word™ would make it too easy to solve? $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Jul 13 '15 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain Yes, and also, I kinda think people get tired of the same old thing, so I decided to put a twist in it this time. Also, to put it bluntly, the people on this site are amazingly good at solving puzzles quickly, so, I thought this format might prolong the solve time a few minutes. :) $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ Does the font matter at all? $\endgroup$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 13 '15 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ Darn. I see there already is a correct answer. >_< I thought it might have something to do with mirroring the text upside-down :P I love these word puzzles! Keep them up!! $\endgroup$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 13 '15 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ @CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ I try to make them tricky enough to last a few hours, but I very rarely succeed with these puzzle-solving beasts. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 20:14
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A Versatile Word is:

A word from which you can remove any one letter and still have a word.

Examples:

1. She ate a ( peach / pear ).

Pear: pea, per, par, ear

2. He ( boats / sails ) in the summer.

Boats: oats, bats, bots, boas, boat

3. She ( circles / loops ) around the building.

Loops: oops, lops, loos, loop

4. He ( fires / shoots ) his weapon.

Shoots: hoots, soots, shots, shoos, shoot

5. He ( aids / helps ) his sister.

Aids: ids, ads, ais, aid

6. They wanted to go ( also / too ).

Too: to, oo

7. This air always contains ( dust / ions ).

Ions: ons, ins, ios, ion

8. The best ( coffee / tea ) comes from India.

Tea: ea, ta, te

9. The vet will ( neuter / spay ) the cat.

Spay: pay, say, spy, spa

10. The gang will ( loot / raid ) the store.

Raid: aid, rid, rad, rai

11. She said ( bye / ciao ) and left.

Bye: ye, be, by

12. Only the ( ash / soot ) remained.

Ash: sh, ah, as

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  • $\begingroup$ This is totally right, and it uses a lot of words that I question their existence but I like this answer too much to disagree. $\endgroup$ – Going hamateur Jul 13 '15 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ bingo! nice job! $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't seem to work for coffees / teas... (eas? tes? tas?) $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Jul 13 '15 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ shout out to VictorHenry's hugely understated comment in CodeNewbie's post $\endgroup$ – Going hamateur Jul 13 '15 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Goinghamateur Ha. Indeed. Believe it or not, I hadn't yet seen that. He beat me by a good 20 minutes, though. $\endgroup$ – glibdud Jul 13 '15 at 20:30
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My best guess:

With one "elementary letter operation" (shifting one letter to somewhere else), you get a new word.

pear to aper, a shift to beginning
boats to boast, t shift
loops to sloop, s shift
fires to fries, r shift
aids to said, s shift
too to oto, t shift (dictionary.reference.com had it; dunno)
ions to sion, s shift
teas to east or eats, t shift
spay to pays, s shift
raid to arid, a shift
bye to bey, y shift
ash to has, h shift

Primary concerns:
- oto and sion are on dictionary.reference.com, but questionable
- too is paired with also, which, if you do a double-connected-letter shift, you get soal which works.
- For sion, the other word dust can go to stud, but that is a very complex maneuver.
Also, I didn't check thoroughly to see if there are other discrepancies.

Other anagrams off the top of my head for the other words (WA stands for the almighty Wolfram Alpha):
- cheap
- WA says sisal...
- clerics
- sooths (WA says it is a word, not sure without e...)
- WA says shlep (I like that word)
- soal v oto
- sion v stud
- none for coffees
- retune
- arid is more elegant a word than flip actually...
- WA says icao is a word...
- otos I guess

The only one which is a shift would be icao, which is an abbreviation. So I'm more comfortable with just a one-letter shift.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is not it, but it's kinda close in a way. No anagrams are used or needed in this puzzle. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee Aww, and I had just convinced myself that the letter shift worked after researching the weirder ones. $\endgroup$ – Going hamateur Jul 13 '15 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ +1 great idea though. Like I said, you're kinda on the right track in a way. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ circles -> clerics is a great find! $\endgroup$ – dennisdeems Jul 13 '15 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for "almighty Wolfram Alpha" and +1 for the idea -- this puzzle had me confused :D $\endgroup$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 13 '15 at 20:07
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I think it might be somewhat similar to a Triad Phrase™. The pattern I've noticed is

A Versatile Word™ can represent two more words, one starting with the first letter (and omitting the second) and one starting with the second letter (and omitting the first).

Applying the logic to the word list

She ate a ( peach / pear ).

Pear - par, ear

He ( boats / sails ) in the summer.

Boats - bats, oats

She ( circles / loops ) around the building.

Loops - lops, oops

He ( fires / shoots ) his weapon.

Shoots - soots, hoots

He ( aids / helps ) his sister.

Aids - ads, ids

They wanted to go ( also / too ).

Too - to, oo (?)

This air always contains ( dust / ions ).

Ions - ins, ons (?)

The best ( coffees / teas ) come from India.

(?)

The vet will ( neuter / spay ) the cat.

Spay - say, pay

The gang will ( loot / raid ) the store.

Raid - rid, aid

She said ( bye / ciao ) and left.

Bye - be, ye

Only the ( ash / soot ) remained.

Ash - ah, sh (?)

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 on the right track! but not quite it. All of the words you chose, you chose correctly! $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ uhmm, Loops would be loop and oops, not lops and oops. $\endgroup$ – Nyk 232 Jul 13 '15 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ I think you can remove any single letter and you'll still have a word. $\endgroup$ – VictorHenry Jul 13 '15 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ @VictorHenry Submit that as your own answer! $\endgroup$ – agweber Jul 13 '15 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking along this vein, though you fleshed it out better, I like it. $\endgroup$ – Going hamateur Jul 13 '15 at 19:41
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Based off of CodeNewbie's insight I have an idea.

Vowels are quite optional. Versatile words can drop any of their vowels and still be a word!


She ate a ( peach / pear ).

Pear - par, per

He ( boats / sails ) in the summer.

Boats - bats, bots

She ( circles / loops ) around the building.

Loops - lops, lops (Well... that makes sense)

He ( fires / shoots ) his weapon.

Shoots - shots, shots

He ( aids / helps ) his sister.

Aids - ads, ids

They wanted to go ( also / too ).

Too - to, to

This air always contains ( dust / ions ).

Ions - ins, ons

The best ( coffees / teas ) come from India.

teas - tes, tas (music and arabic letter?) (dictionary.reference)

The vet will ( neuter / spay ) the cat.

Spay - spa, spy

The gang will ( loot / raid ) the store.

Raid - rid, rad (or loot to lot, lot) not happy about this one. Rad is slang, but also unit of radiation dosage... so I think it is legit.

She said ( bye / ciao ) and left.

Bye - be, by

Only the ( ash / soot ) remained.

Ash - sh, or soot to sot, sot :/

So I do not believe this is quite correct

mainly confusion at the repeat letter ones. So I believe 3 are sketchy answers. Might not be right but hope it helps someone.

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  • $\begingroup$ even closer! but not quite it! haha this is crazy. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I forgot to mention in the post it runs afoul you saying he picked all of the ones he picked, for example ash. $\endgroup$ – Going hamateur Jul 13 '15 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ For 'spay' it would be 'spa' and 'spy', not 'say' and 'spy' :) $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 13 '15 at 19:57
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Is a Versatile Word™ a word that has a homophone? For most of the pairs, only one word has a homophone:

    She ate a ( peach / pear ).

pear/pair

    He ( boats / sails ) in the summer.

sails/sales

    She ( circles / loops ) around the building.

loops/loups

    He ( fires / shoots ) his weapon.

shoots/chutes

    He ( aids / helps ) his sister.

aids/aides

    They wanted to go ( also / too ).

too/two

    This air always contains ( dust / ions ).

ions/irons (?)

    The best ( coffees / teas ) come from India.

teas/tease

    The vet will ( neuter / spay ) the cat.

neuter/nuder (thanks to pacoverflow)

    The gang will ( loot / raid ) the store.

loot/lute

    She said ( bye / ciao ) and left.

bye/buy (thanks to Going hamateur) ciao/chow

    Only the ( ash / soot ) remained.

soot/suit (?)

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    $\begingroup$ bye would also be a homophone $\endgroup$ – Going hamateur Jul 13 '15 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ Dang, you're right. :/ $\endgroup$ – dennisdeems Jul 13 '15 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ neuter and nuder $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Jul 13 '15 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ Great attempt but this isn't it. It fits without any stretching. Homophones are not needed in this puzzle, although there clearly happen to be a lot! $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ Since both bye and ciao have homophones, then logically, this can't be it. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 13 '15 at 18:21

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