Newspaper Headline

Insect Researcher Carroll Appleton alongside grandson Adam discover underground wormhole networks. Recover ________ earthworms.

Fill in the blank. Following are the choices

1 Many
2 Countless
3 Hundred
4 Exotic

Please explain your answer

  • 1
    Your puzzle is flawed: countless, exotic and hundred all share the property that you selected as an answer. And arguably so does m/any. – Gilles Oct 20 at 9:06
  • 1
    I used the standard Merriam Webster Dictionary. Otic or Dred are not listed as words in it. – DEEM Oct 20 at 11:41
  • Also M is a letter or an abbreviation not really a word like I – DEEM Oct 20 at 11:43
  • If you want to tie the puzzle to a specific dictionary, you should work that dictionary into the puzzle. Otherwise the puzzle is to guess which dictionary you're using without any clue. – Gilles Oct 20 at 17:58
up vote 15 down vote accepted

I think it's

Countless

Because

All words on the Headline are combination of 2 english words: In-sect Rese-archer Car-roll ... Count-less Earth-worms.

  • 3
    TIL that Rese is a word in the english language. (for the curious, it means to Quake or Shake) – Ruadhan2300 Oct 19 at 14:45
  • Ex/otic also works. So does hun/dred, but it could be excluded as ungrammatical. – Gilles Oct 20 at 9:03

I think it is

2 Countless

Because

All of the words in the headline are made up of words containing smaller words
Newspaper -> news, paper
Headline -> head, line
Insect -> In, sect
Researcher -> Search, archer or maybe re, searcher
Carroll -> car, roll
Appleton -> Apple, ton
alongside -> along, side
grandson -> grand, son
Adam -> Ad, am
discover -> disc, over
underground -> under, ground
wormhole -> worm, hole
networks -> net, work
Recover -> rec, over
countless -> count, less
earthworms -> earth, worms

  • Are you not forgetting 2 more words? – DEEM Oct 19 at 13:24
  • @DEEM indeed I was – SteveV Oct 19 at 13:28
  • I am going to accept athin's answer since it was given a minute earlier than yours. You gave a detailed explanation so +1 for that. Great thinking – DEEM Oct 20 at 1:18
  • Ex/otic also works. So does hun/dred, but it could be excluded as ungrammatical. – Gilles Oct 20 at 9:05

Perhaps it is

4 Exotic

as in

Recover 4 Exotic earthworms

because

The other three options don't work with the number included. "Recover 3 Hundred earthworms" is close but no one writes a single number partly in digits and partly in words.

I could also argue for

3 Hundred

As it is the most grammatical one when taken with the number as part of the blank:

Recover 1 many earthworms - What does that even mean? Recover 2 countless earthworms - 2 isn't exactly countless... Recover 3 hundred earthworms - Ahh, they got 300 of them, not sure if thats a lot or a little, but it makes sense Recover 4 exotic earthworms - This is the sticking point, this also makes sense, though one would expect more than 4 exotic earthworms to be found perhaps the colony was dying and its 'network' was just the remnants.

Though if I had to pick I'd still go with the other answers (particularly athin's)

  • I could be mistaken but I believe the numbers were written just to clarify the different options – gabbo1092 Oct 19 at 16:04
  • 1
    I agree, I just like to come up with rationalizations for all possible solutions. Still thinking about how to rationalize the last one though... – LambdaBeta Oct 19 at 16:07

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