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If a phrase conforms to a certain rule, I call it a Surpassing Phrase™.

Use the examples below to find the rule.

enter image description here

Some details to save you time:
1. Font doesn't matter.
2. The number of words in the phrase can vary, but I chose short 2-word phrases to keep the list concise.
3. Case doesn't matter.
4. Latest EDIT: tag added

What is a Surpassing Phrase™?

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Anything to do with valuing the letters by A=1, B=2, and so on? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jul 15 '15 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ Eventually you're going to run out of adjectives™ for your phrases! :P $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Jul 15 '15 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ Unnecessary use of images where lists would have sufficed can reduce your potential audience by ruling out anyone who is behind a firewall that blocks image sites or uses a screen reader. $\endgroup$ – glibdud Jul 16 '15 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor It's pretty complicated: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4240/… . It's so complicated, the help pages didn't even bother to mention it. $\endgroup$ – mmking Jul 16 '15 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ @JLee Just nominated your puzzle for 2015Q2. $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jul 21 '15 at 6:47
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+200
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A Surpassing Phrase™ is one where consecutive pairs of letters in each word get farther apart in the alphabet. For example:

su up pe er rb / su ub bw wa ay
 2  5 11 13 16 /  2 19 21 22 24

but not:

ex xc ce el ll le en nt / tr ra ai in
19 21  2  7  0  7  9  6 /  2 17  8  5

The name comes from each successive distance between letters "surpassing" the previous one.

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  • $\begingroup$ congratulations f double prime! you've just got yourself 200 rep points! out of curiosity, how long did you spend on this puzzle, and what was your process? (feel free to go into as much or as little detail as you desire) $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 21 '15 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee I had no idea until I saw beginner 101's answer. The ascending/descending pattern made me realize that the letters were getting farther apart from each other, so that each distance was "surpassing" the previous one. $\endgroup$ – f'' Jul 21 '15 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee "Valuing the letters is not necessary." .. ", but it helps.", the little part of the sentence that had been omitted to misdirect most people! $\endgroup$ – No. 7892142 Jul 21 '15 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ Man, I didn't know this was answered, and I just figured this out...well, maybe next time. :P $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 21 '15 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ So you could say that knowing that quantitative comparison doesn't require measurement of the items being compared, I got 'misdirected' away from measuring the differences in letters' distances from the start of the alphabet. Saying "Valuing the letters is not necessary" makes it a better rather than a worse puzzle IMO :-) $\endgroup$ – h34 Jul 22 '15 at 0:10
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A Surpassing PhraseTM is one where:

For each word in the phrase, the alternate letter groups are ascending and descending. Only one letter (either first or second letter only) in the word can violate this rule.

Here are some examples:

SUPERB = S (discard) + UEB (desc.) + PR (asc.)
SUBWAY = SBA (desc.) + UWY (asc.)
ONLINE = O (discard) + LN (asc.) + NIE (desc.)
FIENDS = FED (desc.) + INS (asc.)
WRITE = WIE (desc.) + RT (asc.)
RUNES = R (discard) + NS (asc.) + UE (desc.)
PORKY = PRY (asc.) + OK (desc.)
HOGS = HG (desc.) + OS (asc.)

I checked all phrases in Surpassing list and they meet the condition above. I checked a few phrases from Non-surpassing list and they do not meet the condition.

I have zero pts, hopefully I can get the bonus!

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    $\begingroup$ The discarding is non-uniform. You don't always discard a letter. The real pattern would undoubtedly be more uniform. $\endgroup$ – CodeNewbie Jul 21 '15 at 5:35
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    $\begingroup$ Very nice observation. I got my answer by considering what might cause this pattern. $\endgroup$ – f'' Jul 21 '15 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ +1 Nice try! I love for new people to get bonuses, but that's not quite it, as CodeNewbie's comment suggests. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 21 '15 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ Even if the discarding isn't uniform, this is still an amazing cook if every phrase on the left conforms to @beginner101's rule and none of the phrases on the right do. So far I haven't found one on the right that does. $\endgroup$ – h34 Jul 21 '15 at 15:40
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I think a Surpassing Phrase™ is one where

you can take away a few letters from both words to create a new word and still be left with a proper word pair. The newly created word may need to be anagrammed but the original words will surpass our expectations by remaining valid words even after losing some letters.

Here's how my pattern fits the phrases. The letters in brackets are the ones removed from the original word and the word in italics is the newly created word

superb subway

super(b) sway(ub) bub

online fiends

line(on) finds(e) one

write runes

writ(e) run(es) see

fair survey

far(i) sure(vy) ivy

bird beak

bid(r) be(ak) ark

turnip fields

urn(tip) field(s) spit

fear cobras

far(e) cobs(ra) era

pithy lingoes

pith(y) lingo(es) yes

kidnap kings

kid(nap) king(s) snap

sound echoes

son(ud) echo(es) dues

icky molerat

ick(y) mole(rat) tray

I haven't been able to fit it to each of the phrases you've listed, but the pattern is appearing all too frequently to ignore altogether.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is not it. It seems too subjective. Also, can't you do the same thing to some/most of the Not Surpassing Phrases? Also, this answer is kinda similar to Versatile Words, and the intended answer is not. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 15 '15 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ Nice try though.Keep at it. If you figure it out, you'll be the first person to snag more than one of these Phrase™ puzzles $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 15 '15 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ I liked it, counter example from not surpassing: Wired villains wire villi nads (or sand.. I guess) $\endgroup$ – Going hamateur Jul 15 '15 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ Congrats on your newly achieved Trusted User status! $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 15 '15 at 20:04
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I think a Surpassing Phrase is one that

contains a string of 3 letters which is only one letter-change away from a string of 3 consecutive letters.

Here's how all the phrases on the left satisfy this rule:

superb subway
online fiends
write runes
porky hogs
fair survey
bird beak
turnip fields
fear cobras
pithy lingoes
icy tundra
kidnap kings
Choctaw turncoat
sound echoes
Pomfret fishway
finer lines
smug nerds
icky molerat

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 wow, nice find, but that's not it. if that WAS it, then I deserve to be punished in some horrible way! $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 16 '15 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ wait, none of the Not Surpassing Phrases meet this condition!? $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 16 '15 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ "st" appears several times in NSP's, for example. And, umm, am I missing something with "birD BEak"? $\endgroup$ – No. 7892142 Jul 17 '15 at 12:15
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My guess is that a Surpassing Phrase is

A phrase with relative adjectives that describe nouns using the least letters possible as well as being the most specific as possible

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  • $\begingroup$ what about "write runes" "fear cobras" "kidnap kings" "sound echoes"? $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 15 '15 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ i guess technically, the last 2 i listed COULD be adjective-noun phrases. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 15 '15 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ "Molerat" is longer than "rodent". $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Jul 15 '15 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think relative adjective is the term you want to use here. $\endgroup$ – dennisdeems Jul 15 '15 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Doge Hey, don't take it too hard. Even the best of us get downvoted now and then. $\endgroup$ – mmking Jul 20 '15 at 15:34

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