What makes a phishy phrase?

There exists a land of anthropomorphized phrases, in this land a vessel carries many phrases and is attacked by pirates. The pirates force everyone to walk across a narrow plank. Those that fall off are eaten by fish. What makes these phrases?

Phishy Phrases:

  • Straight ahead
  • Biggest strength
  • Evil shark
  • Enemy dolphin
  • Greenish banana
  • Periodic pendulums
  • Melodic aardvarks
  • Lasting legacy
  • Koala crimes

Normal phrases:

  • Drunk giraffe
  • Crazy criminal
  • Wild wombat
  • Worldly wildebeest
  • Vile pomegranate
  • Worst weakness
  • Icy icicles


Hint 1: The story sort of gives a hint towards the central idea of a phishy phrase.

  • $\begingroup$ seems that it might have something to do with word length, $\endgroup$
    – Jasen
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 5:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Jasen I don't think so, because for example "enemy dolphin" (5,7) is phishy but "drunk giraffe" (also 5,7) is normal. It could still have to do with word length if it has to do with the words themselves, like their letters or syllables. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 7:04
  • $\begingroup$ Any hint available? $\endgroup$
    – earora4498
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ Well, every phrase is either 3 or 5 syllables, except for Periodic Pendulums (7) and Koala Crimes (4). $\endgroup$
    – Epicedion
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @DooplissForce oops, i miss-counted. $\endgroup$
    – Jasen
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


I think the answer is

For each of the phishy phrases the longer of the two words has fewer syllables than the shorter word. For the normal phrases, it's the other way round.


"Something Sounds Off" makes reference to the fact that phishy phrases sound different to how they appear, in that you might expect the word that looks longer to also have more syllables.

  • $\begingroup$ Well done. Bonus happiness from me if you figure out why the story might be related... Its a tad convoluted but it makes sense to me. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ perhaps some sort of speed or cadence mismatch while they're walking., $\endgroup$
    – Jasen
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 21:27

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