Can you solve the following riddle?

Solid, misshapen, sad, I is - a linguistic object of rare beauty. What am I?

(This is somewhat experimental and I am not sure how hard people will find it. But I have thought about the thought processes required and it should give solvers a lot of pleasure.)


To judge from the absence of comments or answers, it seems that people might not be finding a feature or part of this puzzle to get a grip on..

So here's a hint:

"A linguistic object of rare beauty" is the literal part.

I thought this would be clear because that string of words holds together more fluently than the string that precedes the dash. "A linguistic object of rare beauty" is what you want.

Another hint:

the non-literal part is itself in how many parts? Remember how many when you're trying to create what you want.

  • $\begingroup$ I assume "I is" is intentional. $\endgroup$ – McMagister Jan 3 '15 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ It is intentional, yes. $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 3 '15 at 17:12

The solution:



One of the Platonic SOLIDs is the CUBE.
If something is MISSHAPEN is may be deformed and UGLY.
A colloquial way to say SAD is BLUE.
"I IS" is kind of a homophone of EYES.

Together, these four words form a four-by-four square of letters that reads the same left-to-right or top-to-bottom, which makes it a thing of beauty.

First attempt:

Solid is a phase of matter. A phase sounds like "a face".
Misshapen can mean withered, which sounds like "with her".
Sad is, informally, blue.
And we know about eyes already.

Which gives us:

A face with her blue eyes.

Additional comments by h34

Well done! The solution is indeed this object:


The clues are

crossword-style clues of four different types, namely:

solid: a clue for a member of the class of solids, namely cube
misshapen: a clue for a straightforward synonym, ugly
sad: a clue for a metaphorical synonym, blue
I is: a homophone, once contracted, for eyes

The solution is

a linguistic object because it is made of words.

It is

beautiful because of the symmetry

It is

rare because...well, just try making a similarly symmetric $4 \times 4$ square using words as common as these four. There aren't very many of them about, not counting a trivial variation of cube to tube or, if allowed, rube or lube. (According to this list tube is a commoner word than cube, but cube adds to the feeling of a symmetric spatial structure and works better.) An added bonus is that the noun phrase comprising words 2-4 actually makes sense!

Note that

the second hint stressed the number of parts of the riddle, four


the solution itself can be understood as a crossword puzzle with the same clues down as across, so it is fitting that the clues are of crossword style and neat that they are of four different types

  • $\begingroup$ You have solved the third part of the riddle - well done! Note that the fourth part is a homophone crossword-type clue. The third part, which you have solved, is a metaphorical synonym crossword-type clue. You have made a nice phrase which holds together, but the solution to the whole thing (not a referent of it, but it itself) is more beautiful. $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 6 '15 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ Solved - well done! I'll now add some additional comments to your solution... $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 6 '15 at 16:37

NEW ATTEMPT: Solid, misshapen, sad, I is - a linguistic object of rare beauty. What am I?

The Hardest puzzle "Blue Eyes"







I is


linguistic object of rare beauty

Because its the hardest puzzle and hence a linguistic object( puzzle) or rare beauty( hardest).

Hugh! I hope I have cracked it.


Eyes (I is)


Solid eyes ( A technology ).

Misshapen eyes

Not sure, could be referring to an eye disease


Emotive eyes.

I is

Eye is -> Eyes

A linguistic beauty of rare object

Eyes are used in couplets and poems to refer to an object of beauty , to speak the language of love.

Honest attempt :)

  • $\begingroup$ You have solved the fourth part of the riddle - well done! But that clue is only a homophone crossword-type one; that's all - albeit with no homophone indicator other than the use of poetic licence to produce an ungrammatical form. The answer to it doesn't have any intended semantic connection to the other clues or answers or to the solution as a whole, so your spoilers 2-4 and 6 are off the mark. I'll post the next hint now. $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 4 '15 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ "A linguistic beauty of rare object"- You've got everything in the wrong order -_- $\endgroup$ – Spikatrix Jan 6 '15 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ (Regarding the new attempt.) Nope. It's the solution itself that is a linguistic object of rare beauty. It would be even if it stood alone. The second hint included in the main question should be a help. I don't think "misshapen" would be a good clue for "puzzle". – $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 6 '15 at 14:05

A tenuous guess, but I think the answer might be

the word I

This guess comes from

taking the clues "What am I?" and the strange wording "..., I is" literally.

Trying to make the rest of the clues fit:

a linguistic object of rare beauty

It's a rare example of a single-letter word? Or a pronoun that's capitalized by default?


the sans-serif I is just solid rectangle


a different shape than the usual lowercase form


No idea on this one.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice, but you're barking up the wrong tree. "What am I?" isn't a clue; it's just a standard way of asking "What does this give us?" $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 3 '15 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ I started out with a similar thought on "I" because of the reason's you gave. (I was thinking on some punctuation signs like ? or ! Instead, but couldn't make enough clues fit...). Anyway @h34: Is the "I is" formulation a clue or just, hmm, poetic freedom? $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jan 4 '15 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ "I is" is a clue, as are the other parts of the riddle (which consists of everything before the dash). Poetic freedom allows that clue to be written like that. "I am" wouldn't work. $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 4 '15 at 12:40

Bonsai or Bonsai tree.


I believe Bonsai could be characterized by "Solid, misshapen, sad" (that was my first read of the phrase)


The qualities a bonsai tree and a linguistic object have in common are: object acted upon by subject (linguistic object: that acted upon by subject (wiki: Traditional grammar defines the object in a sentence as the entity that is acted upon by the subject.There is thus a primary distinction between subjects and objects that is understood in terms of the action expressed by the verb, e.g. Tom studies grammar...)


The qualities a bonsai tree and a linguistic object of rare beauty have in common are


1) object acted upon by subject


2) individuality and beauty.


I believe the bonsai tree has individuality and possesses a rare beauty. A tie between bonsai tree and a linguistic object is rare beauty if the linguistic object is unique to an individual speaker - in other words, idiolect.


In linguistics, an idiolect is an individual's distinctive and unique use of language, including speech. This unique usage encompasses vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Idiolect is the variety of language unique to an individual. (wiki: hxxp://en Wikipedia org wiki Idiolect).


A linguistic object of rare beauty is in fact an idiolect I would argue that language unique to an individual possesses a rare beauty.


In fact, at another level, consider: "Bonsai" is a unique linguistic construction itself (plantings in tray, from bon, a tray or low-sided pot and sai, a planting or plantings) that I would consider rare and beautiful: "...a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai. A "bon" is a tray-like pot typically used in bonsai culture. The word bonsai is often used in English as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots..." (wiki)


This connection, analogy or commonality is reflected in at least one instance of its usage: "I say language but Gaelic isn’t one, not really. Its vocabulary is tiny, with no form of saying yes or no and attuned to a distant, pre-technological world. It’s essentially a kind of rural patois, a bonsai idiolect; a way of specifying concepts central to a particular, highly codified way of life..." (google for "bonsai idiolect"; there are many hits).


thus, the answer is the word itself bonsai and what it actually represents - physically and culturally.


finally (ahem) barking up the wrong tree...


very nice!

Okay, okay, no more barking, how about

eye of the beholder

  • $\begingroup$ Nice and imaginative answer, but you are barking up the wrong bonsai :-) The answer is not similar to a linguistic object of rare beauty, nor is it a word that refers to one; it is itself one. I may have misled by using the word 'object'. It is not a grammatical object - not unless you write a sentence and put it in the object slot! I didn't want to say 'item' because that suggests a list or collection. $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 4 '15 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ On a tangent: Gaelic is a language - or even two. If it isn't, what language are people speaking when they speak Gaelic? It has sociolinguistic equivalents for the English words 'yes' and 'no', but no absolutely equivalent direct word-for-word translations - which is not uncommon when translating from one language to another. And most languages have tiny vocabularies compared with English. $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 4 '15 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ How can a bonsai tree be sad? $\endgroup$ – Debanjan Chakraborty Jan 5 '15 at 5:22

I would go with:



There is no visual difference between handwritten and printed emoticons and they always look "solid" rather than soft and curved.


They do not look like normal text


They can express emotions, like sadness

I is

Reference to "internet speak"?

A linguistic object of rare beauty

Rarely used in formal communication and literature of any sorts

the non-literal part is itself in how many parts? Remember how many when you're trying to create what you want.

Not sure about that, but I assume that "solid, misshapen, sad" are also referring to the 3 symbols needed to make the most popular emoticons.

  • $\begingroup$ Nope. "A linguistic object of rare beauty" is what you want. That's the only description of the whole solution that there is. It is an object that has a oneness in a way that a collection of three popular emoticons doesn't. The riddle part doesn't describe the whole and is in four parts, one of which has been solved. $\endgroup$ – h34 Jan 5 '15 at 17:07

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