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This is an entry to the Fortnightly Topic Challenge #25: .


You use words all the time, don't you? Better be careful; words are a lot more powerful than you might think. Used mindlessly, they might dishearten someone. They might make you sound off-center.

$$\boxed{\begin{array}{c}\text{Decapitate a ut of a necklace}\\ \text{Gained conption fast }\\ \text{The ultimate, last anwer: don't listen much}\\ \text{Most fain ge gone by}\\ \text{A cold desse; a versifier}\end{array}}$$

This should be a lesson: what not to be when using words.

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On the coattails of Neil W:

The introduction mentions "disheartening" and "off-centre" and the questions are missing their "hearts", that is their central letters. Let's fill them in:

           Decapitate a u[ ni]t of a necklace
               Gained con[ ce]ption fast
    The ultimate, last an[ s ]wer: don't listen much
                Most fain[t a]ge gone by
             A cold desse[ rt]; a versifier
The missing hearts spell Nice start.

Each question ...

... has two answers, the first part defines the whole word, the second part defines the word with its "heart" removed:

    BE[HE]AD    - Decapitate | a unit of a necklace
    LE[AR]NT    - Gained conception | fast
    HEAR[T]LESS - The ultimate, last answer | don't listen much
    PA[LE]ST    - Most faint | age gone by
    PO[SS]ET    - A cold dessert | a versifier
Again, the hearts of the answers spell out something: When using words, you should not be heartless.

(The answer to the third question is also the final answer of the whole puzzle. Nice!)

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  • $\begingroup$ Nicely done. You already have one half of the third one btw ;) $\endgroup$ – Ankoganit Jan 29 '17 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I see! :) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jan 29 '17 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ Well done......... :) $\endgroup$ – Neil W Jan 29 '17 at 22:08
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So going by the hints,

I originally thought This has something to do with words with missing centres (disheartened).

So my theory

was there is a word which de-centred gives another word, each of which relates to part of the clue, one of the parts, at least, having, at least, one de-centred word. But after a discussion in the comments, the missing 'centre' is not always the case, there is something more to it.

Decapitate a ut of a necklace

Decapitate = be[he]ad = a u[ni]t of a necklace

A cold desse; versifier

A cold desse[rt] = po[ss]et = versifier wikipedia:posset

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  • $\begingroup$ Your approach is pretty close to the right one, so I guess I might just say this: The missing parts of the sentences are centers, but not of the words (rot13: r.t., jbhyqa'g vg znxr n ybg zber frafr gb unir qrfr(eg) engure guna qr(sra)fr?). And figuring out the missing parts might lead you somewhere. $\endgroup$ – Ankoganit Jan 29 '17 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ qrfreg be qrffreg? $\endgroup$ – Neil W Jan 29 '17 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ Whoops, that's an error on my part; edited that. Sorry for any inconvenience caused. $\endgroup$ – Ankoganit Jan 29 '17 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ No worries........ $\endgroup$ – Neil W Jan 29 '17 at 14:36

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