In the spirit of the What is a Word™/Phrase™ series started by JLee, a special brand of Phrase™ and Word™ puzzles. Wanted to try making one of these for myself.

If a word conforms to a special rule, I call it an Unstable Word™.
Use the examples below to find the rule.

$$ % set Title text. (spaces around the text ARE important; do not remove.) % increase Pad value only if your entries are longer than the title bar. % \def\Pad{\P{0.0}} \def\Title{\textbf{ Unstable }} % \def\S#1#2{\Space{#1}{20px}{#2px}}\def\P#1{\V{#1em}}\ \def\V#1{\S{#1}{9}} \def\T{\Title\textbf{Words }^™\Pad}\def\NT{\Pad\textbf{Not}\T\ }\displaystyle \smash{\lower{29px}\bbox[yellow]{\phantom{\rlap{rubio.2017.02.04}\S{6px}{0} \begin{array}{cc}\Pad\T&\NT\\\end{array}}}}\atop\def\V#1{\S{#1}{5}} \begin{array}{|c|c|}\hline\Pad\T&\NT\\\hline % \text{ CHLORINE }&\text{ BROMINE }\\ \hline \text{ HORSES }&\text{ CHICKENS }\\ \hline \text{ INITIATE }&\text{ COMMENCE }\\ \hline \text{ MASSIVE }&\text{ MIGHTY }\\ \hline \text{ MOUNTAIN }&\text{ VALLEY }\\ \hline \text{ POISON }&\text{ VENOM }\\ \hline \text{ PROMPT }&\text{ SWIFT }\\ \hline \text{ RESOLUTE }&\text{ DECISIVE }\\ \hline \text{ RICKETY }&\text{ DERELICT }\\ \hline \text{ SNOOKER }&\text{ SOCCER }\\ \hline \text{ UMBRELLA }&\text{ PARASOL }\\ \hline \text{ UNSTABLE }&\text{ WOBBLY }\\ \hline \text{ VISION }&\text{ REVERIE }\\ \hline \end{array}$$

And, if you want to analyze, here is a CSV version:

Unstable Words™,Not Unstable Words™

The puzzle satisfies the series' inbuilt assumption, that each word can be tested for whether it is an Unstable Word™ without relying on the other words.
These are not the only examples of Unstable Words™; many more exist.

What is the special rule these words conform to?


The rule:

The sum of all the letters (A = 1; Z = 26) should be the atomic number of a radioactive element in order for it to be an Unstable word.


Take HORSES. When you sum up all the letters using the rule stated above, you get 8+15+18+19+5+19 = 84. Element 84 is Polonium, which is a radioactive element. Hence HORSES is an Unstable word. Here is a Python script that I came up with to calculate the sum of all the letters.


The sum for BROMINE is 76. This corresponds to Element 76: Osmium, which is a stable element. Hence BROMINE is not an Unstable word.

  • $\begingroup$ Yep. Nice and simple. Well done! $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Mar 4 '17 at 14:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "simple", yeah, that's just what I was thinking... $\endgroup$ – Christofer Ohlsson Jan 11 '18 at 9:58

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