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MAKE : DALE :: (?) : PALE

Hint: pattern recognition or semantical relation

(?)=solution containing 4 letters

: means 'to' , :: means 'as'

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My answer is

YAKE

Because:

All other letters of the two sides being the same, we really have just "M:D::?:P" or, using a a1z26 cipher, "13:4::?:16." The most straightforward method is to subtract 9, giving ?=25 or Y. Although uncommon, "YAKE" is a valid word, and my solution to the puzzle.

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  • $\begingroup$ That word is apparently defined as “a person who creates horrible ideas in a time of need”. Could fit. $\endgroup$ – MichaelMaggs May 8 at 9:47
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I think the answer is one of four words

Fake, lake, sake, or wake

If you look at

How "make" and "dale" are spoken, they consist of one hard and one soft sound, with "make" being soft-hard and "dale" being hard-soft. Since "pale" follows the same sound rule as "dale" and shares the same last 3 letters, it makes since that the (?) would follow "make"'s sound rule and share its last 3 letters. Of all the available options (bake, cake, fake, lake, rake, sake, take, wake), only "fake", "lake", "sake", and "wake" follow the sound rule.

I imagine that there's something I'm missing that will narrow it down to one of these words.

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