1. The Greek premier.
  2. Call for applause.
  3. A famous actor.
  4. The biggest mouth in Africa.
  5. "5. 5. 5. 5. 5."
  6. ???
  7. A game, of course!
  8. Twelve in an oven?
  9. ???
  10. The partner of 18.
  11. A thousand.
  12. Mixed messages.

What's the pattern in this list, what are the missing elements, and how would it continue?
The list can be continued, so don't look for any significance in the number 12; it's just the place I happened to decide to stop so it didn't go on too long. The answer should be obvious once you find it, though some of the clues may take a little while to unravel.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TheBitByte Sure, any one of the clues would be too broad when considered on its own. But when they're taken all together, there's only one meaningful answer to the whole thing. $\endgroup$ Oct 2 '16 at 23:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @TheBitByte: Probably not. Not all of them have an easy way to clue them with some form of wordplay. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Oct 2 '16 at 23:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TheBitByte Well, maybe that's why I stopped when I did ;-) $\endgroup$ Oct 2 '16 at 23:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TheBitByte Why should I? The question is perfectly solvable as it stands. And with enough ingenuity, I'm sure one could provide 'good' clues for all 26 letters (I already had some difficulty with 8 and 12, but I managed OK with them in the end). $\endgroup$ Oct 2 '16 at 23:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TheBitByte No, I didn't. It seemed like unnecessary effort to make up clues for all 26 when going less than halfway was enough for it to be solved pretty quickly anyway. $\endgroup$ Oct 3 '16 at 0:10

This is

the NATO Phonetic Alphabet or some very similar thing.

The Greek premier.

Alpha (though I think it's actually supposed to be spelt Alfa in this context).

Call for applause.


A famous actor.

Charlie (Chaplin, perhaps)

The biggest mouth in Africa.

Delta (I forget which is actually the biggest river-mouth in Africa).

"5. 5. 5. 5. 5."




A game, of course!


Twelve in an oven?

Hotel (I confess I'm not sure exactly why this one works -- ah, Deusovi's answer has a plausible suggestion, namely that it's "HOT L")



The partner of 18.

Juliet (partner of Romeo) though she's supposed to be spelt Juliett in this context

A thousand.


Mixed messages.

Lima (anagram of MAIL)

It might continue with something like

Oldfield's recording aid


Cold month requiring Hood

November (http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/november-2/)

and so forth.

The title, of course, is because

these are words you use when communicating spellings orally.

  • $\begingroup$ "(though I think it's actually supposed to be spelt Alfa in this context)" I wonder if this is an "error" with the puzzle or just a silly mistake that can be ignored. $\endgroup$ Oct 2 '16 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ I'd say it's not really either. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Oct 2 '16 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ I always thought it was Alpha with the usual spelling. $\endgroup$ Oct 2 '16 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ The point is to make it harder for non-native English speakers to pronounce them wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Oct 2 '16 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ @TheBitByte Is Canbe here again? :-o $\endgroup$ Oct 2 '16 at 22:50

The pattern is that these are all

the letters of the NATO phonetic alphabet: Alpha (first letter of the Greek alphabet), Bravo (a call for applause), Charlie (Chaplin?), Delta (of the Nile), Echo (the clue number is echoed), Foxtrot, Golf (with a pun on its location), Hotel (Hot L?), India, Juliet (partner of Romeo), Kilo (metric prefix for 1000), and Lima (anagram of MAIL).

I'd continue it with clues like

"Pennies", political partner pick


Once ninth, now eleventh


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