Four degrees of separation

(I make billions #8)

In a typical two-part connect-wall puzzle, you are given 16 words which have 2 degrees of separation from the final answer. The first degree of separation is that each clue word is directly related to a group word. The second degree of separation is that each group word is directly related to the final word.

In this puzzle you are given 64 clue words that have 4 degrees of separation from the final word. The puzzle has two stages. In stage 1, you will solve 16 mini-puzzles involving two degrees of separation to obtain 16 new words. In stage 2, the 16 new words are used as a two part connect-wall puzzle to find the final word.

Stage 1

The objective of this stage is to find 16 missing words. Each missing word can be found through a mini-puzzle, where 4 clue words are given. The difficulty is that each clue word is two degrees separated from the missing word, meaning each clue word doesn't relate to the missing word directly, but only indirectly through a connecting word. For example, if the missing word were guard, possible clue words could be busy as in busy body guard or bone as in guard dog bone.

The rules of word connections are:

  1. Each word connection must be one of the following (from most common to least):
  • A two-word phrase/expression such as guard dog or honor guard
  • Two parts of a compound word such as bodyguard or rainfall
  • The title of a movie/tv show/song/etc or a location. All words will be common words (or names that are common words), and may be capitalized as necessary to form the connection. For example, hunger games or green bay or toy story or trump tower.
  1. The clue word and missing word must sit on opposite sides of the connecting word. Therefore, busy body guard is allowed because busybody and bodyguard are valid connections. But bag body guard is not allowed because although body bag is a connection, it doesn't have the right word order.

Each mini-puzzle looks like this and gives further clues to help solve the missing word:

 1. camp    (4)  drama    (5)  _____3_____ (4) animal   (4) climbing
  • The long blank line _____3_____ represents the missing word you are trying to find. The 3 means that this word has 3 letters in it.
  • Clues to the left of the missing word look like camp (4), which means that camp is connected on the left through a four-letter connecting word. So you would be looking for camp xxxx yyy where xxxx is a four-letter connecting word and yyy is the three-letter missing word. One example solution could be camp site map.
  • Similarly, clues to the right of the missing word look like (4) animal, which means that animal is connected on the right through a four-letter connecting word, e.g. yyy xxxx animal. One example solution could be mud pack animal.

When you solve a mini-puzzle, you should write your solution like this (the solution to the above):

1. camp fire drama queen ant farm animal hill climbing

Without further ado, here are the 16 mini-puzzles of stage 1:

 1. bath    (4)  _____4_____  (5) flour    (4) pressure (4) start
 2. brick   (4)  _____6_____  (7) jet      (7) lot      (6) stick
 3. french  (7)  _____5_____  (4) room     (4) fish     (4) square
 4. self    (4)  _____5_____  (4) dance    (6) rights   (5) shirt
 5. public  (7)  _____5_____  (6) agent    (4) coat     (4) shape
 6. atomic  (5)  twisted (4)  _____4_____  (3) cave     (5) shot
 7. bomb    (5)  trouble (5)  _____8_____  (6) collar   (5) thin
 8. cargo   (3)  foot    (4)  _____4_____  (4) blue     (3) rat
 9. check   (4)  swim    (4)  _____4_____  (4) bearing  (6) circuit
10. common  (6)  medical (5)  _____5_____  (4) keeper   (5) printer
11. daily   (6)  diesel  (5)  _____5_____  (7) music    (4) style
12. dark    (5)  smoke   (6)  _____4_____  (4) fold     (4) palm
13. day     (3)  film    (5)  _____6_____  (6) block    (7) lesson
14. dish    (4)  heart   (4)  _____3_____  (5) meat     (6) roll
15. drug    (5)  stone   (4)  _____5_____  (4) bell     (4) jockey
16. garlic  (6)  phone   (4)  _____5_____  (5) club     (5) runner

Stage 2

Once you find the 16 missing words from stage 1, these words will form a two-part connect-wall puzzle. The 16 words are to be grouped into four groups of four words each. Each word in a group is directly connected to a group word using the same type of word connections as in stage 1 (i.e. two-word phrase, compound word, title/location). The four group words are connected to the final word in the same way. When you solve the connect wall, you can answer the question:

I make billions. Who / what am I?

Note: A complete solution should include 64 connecting words and 16 missing words (in the format described above), 4 group words, and the 1 final word/answer. Also, I found that the mini-puzzles can be quite hard, so collaboration is allowed and encouraged.

Previous puzzles in this series: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ (Normally, in "connect wall" puzzles, there actually isn't any relationship between the four groups. That's just an extra twist added by several PSE members.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Jul 12, 2019 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi Really? That doesn't seem very interesting. Every one I've seen has had a connection between the four groups, but I haven't really been active on this site until recently. $\endgroup$
    – JS1
    Jul 12, 2019 at 19:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes - they come from a TV show called Only Connect (hence the name), and rather than an overarching theme, the groups are instead designed to have misleading overlap that can only be disambiguated knowing all of the groups. (For example, one group might be Shakespeare characters, but you might see five of them, and you need to put ROMEO in the "NATO Phonetic Alphabet letters" group instead.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Jul 12, 2019 at 19:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Deusovi Is there a name for the kind of puzzle with 16 words -> 4 groups of 4 -> 1 final answer? $\endgroup$
    – JS1
    Jul 12, 2019 at 19:19
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Not one that I'm aware of - connect-wall is probably fine. I just wanted to point out that that's not standard. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Jul 12, 2019 at 19:22

3 Answers 3


The 16 resolved connecting groups are as follows:

1. bath SALT FLAT BREAD flour TYRE pressure HEAD start
3. french QUARTER FINAL EXAM room BLOW fish FOUR square
4. self PITY PARTY LINE dance ANIMAL rights DRESS shirt
5. public DOMAIN SPACE TRAVEL agent DUST coat SHIP shape
6. atomic CLOCK twisted PAIR WISE MAN cave CRACK shot
7. bomb SCARE trouble SHOOT STRAIGHT JACKET collar RAZOR thin
8. cargo BAY foot REST AREA CODE blue RUG rat (courtesy of Mohirl and tmpearce)
9. check BOOK swim SUIT CASE LOAD bearing CLOSED circuit
10. common GROUND medical WASTE WATER GATE keeper COLOR printer
11. daily DOUBLE diesel MOTOR CROSS COUNTRY music HAIR style
12. dark HORSE smoke SCREEN PLAY BILL fold DATE palm
13. day JOB film STRIP SEARCH ENGINE block HISTORY lesson
14. dish SOAP heart BEAT BOX LUNCH meat SPRING roll
15. drug STORE stone COLD FRONT DOOR bell DESK jockey
16. garlic BUTTER phone JACK KNIFE FIGHT club BLADE runner

This provides us with a word wall which looks like this:

|  FLAT    |  STREET  |  FINAL     |  PARTY  |  
|  SPACE   |  WISE    |  STRAIGHT  |  AREA   |  
|  CASE    |  WATER   |  CROSS     |  PLAY   |  
|  SEARCH  |  BOX     |  FRONT     |  KNIFE  |  

This in itself can be resolved into the following four connecting groups:

WORD = Play (wordplay), Search (wordsearch), Cross (crossword), Final (the final word)
OFFICE = Space (Office Space), Box, (box office), Party (office party), Front (front office)
EDGE = Knife (knife-edge), Wise (edgewise), Straight (straight edge), Case (edge case)
SURFACE = Street (street surface), Water (surface water), Flat (flat surface), Area (surface area)

All of which connect with:

MICROSOFT - as the names of products made by the multinational tech company which is worth not just billions, but trillions even!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Almost there... Here are the first letters for the 7. and 8. connecting words: [rot13]7. obzo f____, gebhoyr f___, w_____ pbyyne, e___ guva, 8. pnetb o__, sbbg e___, p___ oyhr, e__ eng[/rot13] $\endgroup$
    – JS1
    Jul 16, 2019 at 22:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think #7 is more likely rot13(...fubbg fgenvtug WNPXRG pbyyne...) ? $\endgroup$
    – Mohirl
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Possible for #8: pnetb OHF sbbg ERFG FGBC PBQR oyhr EHT eng $\endgroup$
    – Mohirl
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Mohirl Re #7: Baha, of course (facepalm). Re #8, I've had 2 of those for ages and been completely stuck on the others (as well as the link). But rot13(jung'f n fgbc eht?) Will go with those for now though, thanks... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 17, 2019 at 13:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mohirl Sure did! All fixed up now and - I think - finally solved in full. Last answer thanks to contributions from both of you, so thank you very much :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 17, 2019 at 14:31

One full link and a few partial links...


... wheat flour ? pressure head start


atomic clock twisted plot ...


... ball bearing ring circuit


drug store stone cell phone ring bell pump jockey
Reference: Stone Store, stone cell,

  • $\begingroup$ In 9, bearing -- circuit is 6 letters. $\endgroup$
    – JMP
    Jul 13, 2019 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ Correct words so far: head, clock, store. Do you think these are too hard? I was thinking of adding additional clues (first letter of connecting word), but I was afraid of making it too easy. $\endgroup$
    – JS1
    Jul 13, 2019 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ @JS1 Leave it a little while longer - I think I've got 5 sets so far. If I share my work soon it might lead to more collaboration and move things along a little... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 13, 2019 at 21:19

Number 8:

cargo BAY foot REST AREA CODE blue RUG rat

with the benefit that

AREA is a much better fit with @stiv's SURFACE group (SURFACE AREA)

  • $\begingroup$ I think you're on to something there... Nice spot. $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 17, 2019 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @stiv The remaining one was already present in your partial/initial... I just missed it... but it works! $\endgroup$
    – tmpearce
    Jul 17, 2019 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ It totally does. And I think it finally all slots together now. Thank for your suggestion which combined with Mohirl's gave me that final push over the line! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 17, 2019 at 14:32

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