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This is in the spirit of the What is a Word/Phrase™ series inaugurated by JLee with his original Phrase™ and Word™ puzzles.


If a phrase adheres to a certain rule, then I call it a Tone Phrase™.

Use the examples below to find the rule.

enter image description here

And in CSV:

Tone Phrases™, Not Tone Phrases™
--------------------------------------------------
A DUMB CHEF VOTING, AN IDIOT COOK CHOOSING
ADOBE FINCH, MICROSOFT LARK
BEACH MOUND, SAND CASTLE
CAGED BACON, TRAPPED PORK
CAVED TOMB, BROKEN GRAVE
COMBAT FUND, WAR BUDGET
DAMNED BEE, ACCURSED WASP
DEBUG A DAEMON, TROUBLESHOOT A SERVICE
DUTCH BAG, NETHERLAND SACK
FOAMING GUMBO, FROTHY CHOWDER
FUDGE MOCHA, CHOCOLATE COFFEE
FUMING CAD, ANGRY CRIMINAL
HANGING CHAD, VOTE MALFUNCTION
MAD CUB, ANGRY BEAR
NUMB FAME, WARM MEDIOCRITY
VEGAN COMB, MEAT BRUSH

First Hint

Now that it's after March 1984, I could get away with using a different name for this puzzle. AT&T would have sued me before then.

2nd hint

You do have a phone nearby, right?

3rd hint

"Choosing" is a poor synonym for "voting", but "electing" would have broken the rule.

4th hint

Certain letters and numbers are not allowed.

5th hint

The numbers associated with Tone Phrases on a dialpad have a property that numbers associated with Non-Tone-Phrases do not.

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  • $\begingroup$ For future puzzles, avoid giving hints too soon unless they are not too important to be a part of the puzzle body. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot May 25 '17 at 4:12
5
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A Tone Phrase is one that

doesn't have any letters from keys 5, 7, or 9 of the standard phone keypad. (The only allowed numbers are those corresponding to the letters in the phrase TOUCH TONE. (Thanks, Julian!))
enter image description here

(Like many of this type of puzzles, it can be easily solved by keeping track of what letters appear only on one side. I did that, noticed that the non-Tone-Phrase™-letters were in consecutive groups of 3 and 4, and worked it out from there.)

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  • $\begingroup$ That's true, but there's actually something special about the ones you called out. $\endgroup$ – Mikey T.K. May 24 '17 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ The allowed keys are exactly the ones used to type the phrase "touch tone", a phrase which was an AT&T trademark until March 1984. $\endgroup$ – Julian Rosen May 24 '17 at 23:16

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