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What English words contain the five vowel letters, a, e, i, o, and u, with fewest consonant letters?

Facetious and abstemious contain the five in alphabetical order, and each contains four consonant letters: fcts in facetious, and bstm in abstemious. There are two instances of s in the case of abstemious, but we are counting each letter once, so both words achieve a consonant score of four.

We are looking for the word or words that contain all five of these vowel letters, not necessarily in alphabetical order, and perhaps repeated, and that have the lowest consonant score.

(Note: please can nobody edit to change "vowel letter" and "consonant letter" to "vowel" and "consonant". "Vowels" and "consonants" are sounds - they are classes of phonemes, not classes of written letters. Often a vowel letter does not represent a vowel. I am also aware that y often does represent a vowel and that w sometimes does.)

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    $\begingroup$ One day I was playing Scrabble with a friend, and she said How interesting, I have all five vowels, and I said jokingly well then if you also have an S and a Q then you can play SEQUOIA, and then she did. I was vexed. $\endgroup$ – Eric Lippert Oct 13 '17 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ We also have "giouae", which is the sound I make when I wake up in the morning. $\endgroup$ – MackTuesday Oct 13 '17 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ Caesious has all five vowel letters in order and only three consonant letters. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Oct 13 '17 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_without_consonants $\endgroup$ – SeanC Oct 13 '17 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ It's not an answer, but I like facetious because it's a (fairly) common word with the five vowels in order. If you like y, then go with facetiously. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Oct 13 '17 at 21:14
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Iouea (noun)

  1. A taxonomic genus within the phylum Porifera — Cretaceous fossil sponges.

contains all five vowels, although it is a scientific word. As an alternative,

Eunoia (noun)

  1. (rhetoric) Goodwill towards an audience, either perceived or real; the perception that the speaker has the audience's interest at heart.

contains all vowels and one consonant. This is also the shortest word to contain all vowels.

As a bit of trivia, Christopher Bök's Eunoia is an anthology of poems, where each chapter is written using words limited to a single vowel.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, that was fast! I will accept, because nobody will beat this, but are there any other words that score one? $\endgroup$ – user36946 Oct 13 '17 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ I can't seem to find eunoia in any well-known dictionary, apart from Wikitionary. Could you provide a link to something like the Oxford English Dictionary? $\endgroup$ – boboquack Oct 13 '17 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ Eunoia is not in the OED. $\endgroup$ – user36946 Oct 13 '17 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ @boboquack You might be interested to know that the Guinness World Records lists eunoia as the smallest word containing all five vowels. Definitions can be found here, here and here, although the word is not an accepted scrabble one. $\endgroup$ – user40086 Oct 13 '17 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ you specifically ask for english, but as a gift, i will give you the french version: oiseau(bird). $\endgroup$ – dna Oct 13 '17 at 14:40
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Here's a word I have just found in the Oxford English Dictionary that achieves a score of one:

mieaou

It's a variant spelling of

miaow.

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This problem seems familiar (not from another PSE question) and I can remember two answers that came up with a score of:

2 consonants

which were:

Sequoia and miaoued

Note: the second was contentious to whether it was in fact a valid word, but the first definitely is.

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Maybe this takes the fun out of the question, but it is a computational problem. I obtained the list of words only containing alphabetic characters here (words_alpha.txt): https://github.com/dwyl/english-words. First, find all uncapitalized words (avoiding proper names) that contain all the vowels:

 grep '^[a-z]' words_alpha.txt | grep a | grep e | grep i | grep o | grep u > tmp1

Then remove vowels and print the remaining length (number of consonants):

 sed 's/[aeiou]//g' tmp1 | awk '{print length($0)}' > tmp2

Finally, paste the counts next to the corresponding word, sort and take those with less than four consonants:

paste tmp2 tmp1 | sort -g | awk '$1 < 3'

2  aboideau
2  aboiteau
2  adoulie
2  cadiueio
2  eucosia
2  eulogia
2  eulogiae
2  eunomia
2  eutocia
2  eutopia
2  miaoued
2  moineau
2  sequoia

So in this list, no word has less than two consonants, while twelve words have exactly two consonants.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling! Why don't you take the tour? $\endgroup$ – boboquack Oct 13 '17 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ Duplicated consonant letters should be counted as one: cat words_alpha.txt | grep -i 'a' | grep -i 'e' | grep -i 'i' | grep -i 'o' | grep -i 'u' | ruby -e 'ARGF.each{|w| w=w.strip.downcase; s=w.split("").sort.join; s=s.gsub(/[aeiou]/,""); s2=s; s2=s2.gsub(/(.)\1+/,"\\1"); puts "#{s2.length} #{w.length} #{w} #{s} #{s2}"}' | sort -n -r. $\endgroup$ – psmith Oct 14 '17 at 9:49
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I found two words with 2 points (apart from sequoia):

aurevoir attenuation

Though the first one is bending the rules a bit :)

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I mentioned CAESIOUS in a comment as having three consonant letters, but I had missed that the score is based on distinct consonant letters, so it scores 2 and is worthy of elevation to an answer. It has the additional nice property of having each of the vowel letters exactly once and in order.

SOWPODS contains a further 12 words scoring two, of which 8 have been listed in previous answers, and one (SEQUOIAS) is a simple plural of one which has. The three additions are

  • DOULEIA (not exactly a word of quotidian usage, at least in the circles I move in)
  • OSSUARIES (probably the two-pointer I use second most after ATTENUATION)
  • AUTOCUTIE (which I've never heard before, but apparently does see some use)

For completeness, the other two-pointers in SOWPODS are

  • ABOIDEAU
  • ABOITEAU
  • ATTENUATION
  • EULOGIA(E)
  • MIAOUED
  • MOINEAU
  • SEQUOIA
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