A common puzzle is to see how to make sentences from the same letters, or the longest word in alphabetical order, etc. see here for a list.

Now 'the x-height or corpus size refers to the distance between the baseline and the mean line of lower-case letters in a typeface.' (Wikipedia). Here, I want letters to be of an x-height less or equal to half of the ascent or cap height (e.g. n, x as seen below, or in the Wikipedia page).

Wikipedia image

Hence the acceptable letters are:

a, c, e, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, z.

i is omitted, since as shown in the diagram, the dot is above the mean line.

You have two challenges:

1) Find the longest word that can be made out of only these letters.

2) Find the longest comprehensible sentence out of these letters. Comprehensible as in some reasonable situation in which you would use this sentence, other than as an answer to this puzzle.

You will have to be especially convincing if you have jargon terms.

Some ground rules:

In both cases, repeating letters will be allowed. Repeating words is not allowed, to avoid cases like this. Proper nouns should be alright. More brownie points if your sentences/words omit punctuation that does not to conform to the x-height rules.

As a starting point:

Longest word (no repetition), according to anagram/scrabble solver:

cavernous: like a cavern in size, shape, or atmosphere. (9)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a form of constrained writing known as the prisoner's constraint. $\endgroup$ – f'' Jun 8 '16 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ x height is font-specific; if you change fonts, you change x height. It's also specifically related to the height of the x glyph in the font. If your chosen font has the height of the x glyph to be the same as the cap height, this puzzle becomes trivial. $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Jun 8 '16 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ @IanMacDonald I have clearly stated what letters to be used, this is standard handwriting. Of course any of these 'longest sentence/words with such and such' are trivial, and have no real life applications. But they are fun, as is the purpose of this site. $\endgroup$ – Inazuma Jun 9 '16 at 0:40

The right way to solve #1 at least is with a computer program, but by hand I hereby offer

vacuousness (11).

A not-very-reliable dictionary file found online has

overnumerousness (16) and nonerroneousness (16), which both seem pretty dodgy to me; nonsensuousness (15), nonvenomousness (15), and overnervousness (15), which seem no better (note: the last has already been posted in another answer); convexoconcave (14), curvaceousness (14), nonamorousness (14), nonconcurrence (14), nonconversance (14), nonnervousness (14), nononerousness (14), nonvacuousness (14), overcommonness (14), overnarrowness (14), oversevereness (14), unnumerousness (14), unsensuousness (14), unsonorousness (14), unvenomousness (14), of which I'm reasonably convinced by at least curvaceousness (14) and nonconcurrence (14) though some of the others seem possibly OK.

In other news,

my team of sex educators has been working hard to prepare a curriculum to supplement school sex ed with extra ... practical work ... in the holidays. Good news! We just got approval to go ahead with the project, so we're definitely going to do it. So: our new success means sure summer sex course. But I bet it isn't difficult to make a much longer coherent sentence than that. For instance, some of our vacation students who were feeling gloomy earlier now report that summer cares are now no more as sex success means our amorous new women can soon arouse us (74/18). With just a very little kinkiness they could be mouse women and perhaps it might then be zoo sex success but these feel kinda cheaty. Similarly, they could be vexed summer cares (abusing "vexed" in the same way as the stock phrase "vexed question" does) but that also seems cheaty.

Moving from sex to death,

my zoo employs a team of first-rate medical scientists, who have been working on a terrible problem that made us all sad. Our zoo had a rare kind of mouse, but unfortunately the harsh sunlight at this time of year repeatedly gave them skin cancer. But now success succours summer woes: new wax can cure some cancers -- mouse sarcoma curse vexes our morose zoo men no more (94/20).

Good news!

It turns out that this research (unlike most research on cancer in mice) actually applies to humans too. That's a real relief -- we and our partners had been afraid to indulge in all the outdoor frolics this season demands. But now we can stop worrying: cancer source -- summer sun -- can never more scare us as new wax cures sarcomas -- erases morose nervousness so now we resume our amorous romance: reassurance means curvaceous nurses arouse amorousness anew (170/31). Why nurses? Well, we're feeling so grateful to the medical profession...

Of course there are other ways to deal with death, which may not be so agreeable. For instance (I am not going to try to make this terribly long; it's just for amusement):

nervous coroners scream as necromancers rearouse carcases.

But, while keeping with that magical theme, let us finally return from death to sex again. Warning: this one is a little bit explicit and, worse, it uses punctuation that goes above the median. No numbers; I'm just playing with the sounds one can make with this repertoire of words.

Those naughty necromancers are ravishing old nuns and making them feel young again, now: senescence evanesces as sensuous sorceresses' excess caresses access ancresses' recesses.

Finally -- still nowhere in the realm of maximum length, so I shan't bother with spoilerification, and I scoff at the no-repetition rule here -- let me quote a couple of famous lines:

Pascal: enormous cosmic cavernous vacuousness' unsonorousness never ceases -- scares me

Shakespeare: names are vacuous: we name roses so -- a new name never removes savorousness

  • $\begingroup$ Well I like where this is going, haha. But is it possible for you to edit with the number of words/letters in brackets (just for comparison) $\endgroup$ – Inazuma Jun 8 '16 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ OK, numbers added. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 8 '16 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ Your manual version beat the computer program that I tried! wordsmith.org/anagram/… $\endgroup$ – user21939 Jun 8 '16 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ Try entering three or four of each letter and see if it does better. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 8 '16 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ Fixed now by the lazy expedient of removing half of the offending can-can. I hope it's obvious that it would be easy to make any of these quite a bit longer -- for me, the interest is in trying to make genuinely credible sentences with the given restriction. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 8 '16 at 14:44

Sentence of 26 29 words and 107 119 letters:

one more source assures us a roman rover roams over our moors; we are unsure, as no man nor woman can run on venomous roses or scare amorous raccoons.


curvaceousness (14)

Or, if you accept its plural, curvaceousnesses (16).

Source: Webster's 3rd for curvaceousness. No plural is explicitly given.

  • $\begingroup$ sad, you beat me to it, I was busy looking and didn't see you posted this. $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Jun 8 '16 at 13:50

This is a comprehensible sentence that is guaranteed to be the longest possible under the given rules...perhaps not in the spirit of the challenge, though.

On a cavern, one man can carve 'cavernous uncovers romances [insert rest of possible word list here]'

If you want a plausible explanation for this:

A man who lives in a cave is trying to answer a question on Puzzling Stack Exchange and notes that he could have a candidate word list written on the wall for easier reference. Unfortunately, though, he forgot a few words from his list.

  • $\begingroup$ This is clever, I'll admit. But what reasonable situation would this be? $\endgroup$ – Inazuma Jun 8 '16 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Inazuma situation explicated! Also I noticed I had inadvertently included a duplicate word...corrected. $\endgroup$ – user21939 Jun 8 '16 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ "Comprehensible as in some reasonable situation in which you would use this sentence, other than as an answer to this puzzle." $\endgroup$ – Inazuma Jun 8 '16 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Inazuma I plan to use this sentence in a short story I am going to write about a crazy man living in a cave solving puzzles. I am really into experimental literature, so I see no problem with including a sentence that long in my story. $\endgroup$ – user21939 Jun 8 '16 at 14:01

overnervousness. Or, if you accept plurals of such abstract nouns, overnervousnesses.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you show me a dictionary that actually has 'overnervousness' as a single word? Nervousness at least matches the current score (11), however. $\endgroup$ – Inazuma Jun 8 '16 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ No, but I have come across it as a long word with the desired property. Anyway, I have submitted another answer. $\endgroup$ – Rosie F Jun 8 '16 at 13:42

nervous coroners scream as courteous necromancers rearouse carcasses as our macrocosmos screams no.


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