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This is in the spirit of the What is a Word/Phrase™ series started by JLee with a special brand of Phrase™ and Word™ puzzles.


If a word conforms to a special rule, I call it a selfish word. Here is a list of selfish and not-selfish words:

selfish words

Here is a CSV version for copy-paste purpose:

SELFISH;NOT SELFISH
noun;adjective
short;long
prefixed;uncomplicated
common;uncommon
pedantic;imprecise
erudite;uncultured
word;sentence
polysyllabic;monosyllabic
TLA;SLA
writable;unwritable 

QUESTION: What is the rule to tell whether a word is a selfish word or not?

Credits: my nerdy colleague. Dedicated to a friend of mine who think I only know mathematical and logical puzzles.

Hint:

"selfish" and "mispeled" are two selfish words

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Just noticed you used the word "not-selfish" there; which list would you place that word on? :-) $\endgroup$ – Bass Dec 24 '19 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Bass lol I think it is related to the set-not-containing-itself paradox $\endgroup$ – melfnt Dec 25 '19 at 8:07
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A selfish word is one that is autological; that is, a word that describes itself. For example, "word" is a word, "polysyllabic" is has multiple syllables, and "prefixed" contains the prefix "pre". The one that's the least obvious to me is the word "pedantic" but i guess you could say that a word describing a subject relates to it?

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not an English native speaker, maybe I could have written rot13(Cbzcbhf vafgrnq bs crqnagvp) $\endgroup$ – melfnt Dec 24 '19 at 13:18

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