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This is based on the What is a Word/Phrase™ series of Phrase™ and Word™ puzzles, started by JLee.


If a word satisfies a certain property, it is called an Atom Splitting Word™. Use the example word lists below to find the rule. Each word can be tested for whether it is an Atom Splitting Word™ without depending on other words in these lists.

What is the property that makes a word an Atom Splitting Word™ ?

And why is it called an Atom Splitting Word™ ?

Note that font and capitalization do not matter.

Atom Splitting Words™ Not Atom Splitting Words™
ABERRATION MUTANT
BURLAP COTTON
CARBOXYL CARBOXYLIC
ELECTRON NEUTRINO
FORM FORMAL
FUNCTIONAL FUNCTION
ILLUSTRATE DEMONSTRATE
LEVITATION FLIGHT
MICROSCOPE ATOMIC
MORALIST PHILOSOPHERS
NOBLEWOMAN ARISTOCRAT
PERFORMING PERFUNCTORY
PHYLUM TAXONOMY
ROYALE KINGDOM
SAILOR SUBMARINE
STRIFE SUFFERING
TEMPORAL VARYING
UMPIRE REFEREE
UNDOCUMENTED UNKNOWN
WERE WAS
YEARBOOK PHOTOGRAPH
ZINC GOLD

CSV version:

Atom Splitting Words™,Not Atom Splitting Words™
ABERRATION,MUTANT
BURLAP,COTTON
CARBOXYL,CARBOXYLIC
ELECTRON,NEUTRINO
FORM,FORMAL
FUNCTIONAL,FUNCTION
ILLUSTRATE,DEMONSTRATE
LEVITATION,FLIGHT
MICROSCOPE,ATOMIC
MORALIST,PHILOSOPHERS
NOBLEWOMAN,ARISTOCRAT
PERFORMING,PERFUNCTORY
PHYLUM,TAXONOMY
ROYALE,KINGDOM
SAILOR,SUBMARINE
STRIFE,SUFFERING
TEMPORAL,VARYING
UMPIRE,REFEREE
UNDOCUMENTED,UNKNOWN
WERE,WAS
YEARBOOK,PHOTOGRAPH
ZINC,GOLD
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I think I have the answer. Credit to @Riley in the comments for greatly simplifying my solution:

An Atom Splitting Word™ has the same number of letters in the first half of the alphabet as in the second half.

For example, take ABERRATION. From left to right, there are 5 letters A, B, E, A, and I in the first half of the alphabet (A-M). There are also 5 letters R, R, T, O and N in the second half of the alphabet (N-Z).

Why the name "Atom Splitting" applies:

When you split the alphabet, the first half consists of the letters "AtoM".

Output of analysis for all provided Atom Splitting Word™s:

Word: ABERRATION
Number letters in range A-M: 5
Number of letters in range N-Z: 5

Word: BURLAP
Number letters in range A-M: 3
Number of letters in range N-Z: 3

Word: CARBOXYL
Number letters in range A-M: 4
Number of letters in range N-Z: 4

Word: ELECTRON
Number letters in range A-M: 4
Number of letters in range N-Z: 4

Word: FORM
Number letters in range A-M: 2
Number of letters in range N-Z: 2

Word: FUNCTIONAL
Number letters in range A-M: 5
Number of letters in range N-Z: 5

Word: ILLUSTRATE
Number letters in range A-M: 5
Number of letters in range N-Z: 5

Word: LEVITATION
Number letters in range A-M: 5
Number of letters in range N-Z: 5

Word: MICROSCOPE
Number letters in range A-M: 5
Number of letters in range N-Z: 5

Word: MORALIST
Number letters in range A-M: 4
Number of letters in range N-Z: 4

Word: NOBLEWOMAN
Number letters in range A-M: 5
Number of letters in range N-Z: 5

Word: PERFORMING
Number letters in range A-M: 5
Number of letters in range N-Z: 5

Word: PHYLUM
Number letters in range A-M: 3
Number of letters in range N-Z: 3

Word: ROYALE
Number letters in range A-M: 3
Number of letters in range N-Z: 3

Word: SAILOR
Number letters in range A-M: 3
Number of letters in range N-Z: 3

Word: STRIFE
Number letters in range A-M: 3
Number of letters in range N-Z: 3

Word: TEMPORAL
Number letters in range A-M: 4
Number of letters in range N-Z: 4

Word: UMPIRE
Number letters in range A-M: 3
Number of letters in range N-Z: 3

Word: UNDOCUMENTED
Number letters in range A-M: 6
Number of letters in range N-Z: 6

Word: WERE
Number letters in range A-M: 2
Number of letters in range N-Z: 2

Word: YEARBOOK
Number letters in range A-M: 4
Number of letters in range N-Z: 4

Word: ZINC
Number letters in range A-M: 2
Number of letters in range N-Z: 2

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Isn't this equivalent to this much simpler explanation? Rot13(Gur jbeq unf gur fnzr ahzore bs yrggref va N-Z nf A-M.) So there's no need to rot13(Fcyvg gur jbeq va unys qbja gur zvqqyr) $\endgroup$
    – Riley
    May 9 '18 at 23:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You're absolutely right, I can't believe that went over my head. I'll update my answer. $\endgroup$ May 9 '18 at 23:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MikeQ Sure thing, I just added that. I hope I got the entire pun. $\endgroup$ May 9 '18 at 23:33
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ That's not really a pun. Don't overthink this. Hint: rot13(jung qb lbh pnyy gur svefg unys bs gur nycunorg)? $\endgroup$
    – MikeQ
    May 9 '18 at 23:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MikeQ Wow... nice one. $\endgroup$ May 9 '18 at 23:37

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