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I have tried to put these words in alphabetical order. Can you find what is wrong with my ordering? What is the correct order?

alien, arson, beetle, canine, cucumber, dealer, eastern, effort, elevate, eminent, enter, estimate, eunuch, expert, island, jailbird, jeans, open, peachy, seaman, teenager, veto, wiring, zebra

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I believe the 'alphabetical' order you're actually looking for is:

alien, beetle, seaman, dealer, eastern, effort, jeans, island, jailbird, canine, elevate, eminent, enter, open, peachy, cucumber, arson, estimate, teenager, eunuch, veto, expert, wiring, zebra

Since:

The first syllable (or thereabouts) of these words sounds like a letter of the English alphabet:

Alien, BEEtle, SEAman, DEAler, EAstern, EFFort, JEAns, Island, JAIlbird, CAnine, ELevate, EMinent, ENter, Open, PEAchy, CUcumber, ARson, EStimate, TEEnager, EUnuch, VEto, EXpert, WIring, ZEbra

Here, all letters of the English alphabet with the exception of 'H' and 'W' are represented. Good luck finding a dictionary which will list them in this way! ;-)

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    $\begingroup$ "Zebra" only works for Americans. The rest of the world pronounces it "Zed". $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Feb 4 at 19:03
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    $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain Indeed - perhaps I should have specified American-English! (And it's a good job there's no 'H' word here - I wouldn't have wanted to start the aitch/haitch fires burning...!) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Feb 4 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain sure, but I've also heard it pronounced "zeh-bra", particularly by non-American English speakers $\endgroup$ – Punintended Feb 4 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ If you're willing to stretch the pronunciation a little, then "etching" could be a plausible "H" word. I can't think of a "W", though. $\endgroup$ – dan04 Feb 5 at 3:30
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    $\begingroup$ 'uudecode'. OK maybe a slight stretch... $\endgroup$ – theonetruepath Feb 6 at 1:03

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