If a phrase meets a certain criteria, I call it an Ascending Phrase™.

Use the examples below to find the rule.

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1. Font and case do not matter.
2. No calculation is needed, unlike my last Phrase™ puzzle.
3. The meanings of the words are not helpful in finding the rule.

Thanks to the suggestion of glibdud and those who upvoted his comments in a couple different posts, here is a text version of the table above:

Ascending Phrases™                       Not Ascending Phrases™
doctors prescribe                        physicians order
noble attempt                            valiant effort
petty offense                            unimportant misdemeanor
teachers facilitate understanding        instructors expedite proficiency
only original geographic configurations  exclusively primary land setups
salesmen present guarantees              saleswomen furnish promises
genius requires perseverance             intelligence demands persistence
women distribute information             ladies scatter knowledge
workers unite                            employees unify
problems include universal dependability issues involve general faithfulness
humans prefer cappuccino                 people favor coffee
fortunate alumni volunteer               successful graduates labor
children desire avocados                 toddlers fancy apples
lawyers persuade individuals             attorneys influence people

What makes a phrase an Ascending Phrase™?

Bonus: If you have solved one of my Phrase™ or Word™ puzzles before, and you solve this one, you will be the first person to solve more than one of these types of puzzles of mine, and you will receive 100 rep points from me, on top of any other points that this puzzle might give (i.e. It might also have a regular bounty on it if it lasts long enough.)

  • $\begingroup$ @BmyGuest Thanks, and everyone else, if you're up for it, up-vote my answer to the hardest puzzle I have yet solved on this site, which got only 3 upvotes in over 4 months-- none other than BmyGuest's Rotationpuzzle in hex - The journey beyond the tomb $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee You deserve your own tag for these type of puzzles :) $\endgroup$
    – qwertylpc
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ Downvoting should cancel an upvote before attempting to apply the downvote $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ Is an Ascending Phrase™ dependent on a non-Ascending Phrase™? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ @CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ Any phrase that does not meet the Ascending Phrase condition is considered a "Not Ascending Phrase." In that way they are dependent. Maybe I am not understanding what you are saying. $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


@PatrickStevens got me looking at

the syllable patterns,

and I think I have it figured out:

each word in the phrase has its first stressed syllable at one greater position than the previous. (first word: first syllable stressed, second word: second syllable stressed, etc).

Thus, an Ascending Phrase is one where the position of the first stressed syllable ascends in each word as the phrase progresses.

For example:
doc-tors   pre-scribe
on-ly   or-ig-in-al   ge-o-graph-ic   con-fig-ur-a-tions
prob-lems   in-clude   un-i-vers-al   de-pen-da-bil-i-ty

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Yeah, all syllables sound the same to me, but good job poetic peoples. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ edited to more clearly define an ascending phrase, @JLee $\endgroup$
    – dfperry
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee: And one more different answerer. You're Phrase™ puzzles are too convoluted to be cracked by the same mind twice. :-P $\endgroup$
    – CodeNewbie
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 5:18
  • $\begingroup$ @CodeNewbie It will happen. I just know it. :) $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 13:58

An Ascending Phrase begins with a stressed syllable and nowhere has a syllable pattern of "stressed, unstressed, stressed" or "stressed, stressed".

Not a very neat answer, doesn't really fit with "Ascending", but it works.

Better answer:

A word's climb is the number we get when we take the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, write 0 for a stressed and 1 for an unstressed, and convert the result from binary. For instance, "barbarous" has "BAR-bar-ous" so is 011 = 3. An Ascending Phrase is one where the successive words' climbs are strictly increasing.

  • $\begingroup$ I am trying to figure out if your answer is somehow the answer in disguise. dperry nailed it, but you were first, but I'm not yet sure if this is quite it. $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ For me, "Barbarous overwork" would be an Ascending Phrase, but not for you. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 15:00

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