According to Wikipedia a mnemonic is "any learning technique that aids remembering".

Here is a mnemonic sentence:

Empty City, Green Dwarfs

Can you tell what it is about? The answer is a six letter word.

Clarification: the thing to remember is not an event. I posted this riddle today just because something related happened on January the 15th some years ago. You can consider this an hint.

  • $\begingroup$ Is the answer related to... rot13(unathy)? If yes, then I still don't know how to connect them.. Anyone feel free to continue.. >< $\endgroup$
    – athin
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ No, sorry. Why? $\endgroup$
    – melfnt
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ Ah ok nvm then. I just guess from the date and letter tho. $\endgroup$
    – athin
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 13:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ To save lots of blind-alley web-trawling, does your hint mean specifically 15 January 2020 or just on 15 January in some year in the past? Thanks :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't the plural of dwarf "dwarves" ? $\endgroup$
    – Keelhaul
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


This is the longest shot possible, but here it goes:



It's a song by the band "Cranberries", and the chord progression is Em - C - G - D (Empty City, Green Dwarfs). The song addresses the death of two children in the hand of an IRA bombing. The IRA initiated bombings starting from January 1970's.

Why I think so...

I would assume "Empty City" meaning lack of city activity because of fear, and Green represents Irish colors (St. Patrick related colors). I have no idea what Dwarfs is for.

  • $\begingroup$ That is correct, amazing! There is actually another event that happened exactly on January 15. As for the dwarfs, you said it in your answer but you didn't realise it. $\endgroup$
    – melfnt
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ rot13(Vf gur terra qjnes n yrcerpunha? snzbhfyl yvaxrq jvgu verynaq) $\endgroup$
    – AHKieran
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ @melfnt I love that this is the correct answer (and I love this song) - this will spring to mind every time I play it from now on! :) IMHO it is also far more satisfying than my own answer, since for mine to be correct your thinking would have to be very convoluted, since my PS demonstrates there would be easier ways to achieve it... Well done Adib +1 $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not sure if it's what @melfnt had in mind but there's a nice wordplay between folklore dwarfs being miners --> miners/minors --> your answer... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 9:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No, green dwarfs is related to rot13(cynagf) and the memorial rot13 (vf n gevohgr gb fbzrbar jub qvrf ba Wnahnel 15) $\endgroup$
    – melfnt
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 23:53

I'm thinking this is a mnemonic device for remembering how to:

Spell the offspring of a swan, i.e. a CYGNET.


'Empty' here is a cryptic-esque way of instructing one to take only the first and last letters of the words that follow (thereby removing their contents, or emptying them), i.e. 'Empty City, Green' emphasises the letters CYGN.

Next, the mnemonic creator holds a strong association between the word 'Dwarfs' and the letters ET. This is possibly because the title character in the classic 1982 Steven Spielberg movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a short character played by three different actors, two of whom had dwarfism.

(Alternatively, 'Empty' only links to 'City', providing CY; 'Green' indicates only its single-letter abbreviation G; and in the Snow White tale there were only seven dwarfs - not ten, thinks the mnemonic creator - and so translates 'not ten' as 'the opposite of ten', i.e. 'TEN backwards' or NET...)

As for the title?

The Tchaikovsky ballet Swan Lake was originally a flop after its premiere in Moscow in 1877. However, it was revived in St Petersburg, performed for the first time in this new run on 15 January 1895 at the Mariinsky Theatre, after which it soared in popularity, becoming one of the most popular and well-known ballets worldwide. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the revival - a landmark the OP thought worthy of commemorating in this puzzle :)

Post Script:

Personally, however, if I were coming up with a mnemonic for 'CYGNET' (yes, I realise you weren't asking), this following one is my favourite simple acrostic of all the ones that flew round my mind overnight... It makes use of the male swan being known as a 'cob', the swan being renowned for its temper, and the famous ballet:

Cob's Young Gets Nasty - Eats Tchaikovsky!

(Feel free to start using it yourself!)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Everytime I think of the word ZOMBIE, I now spell C-Y-G-N-E-T. Great answer. :) $\endgroup$
    – MacGyver88
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 1:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.