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


1 Answer 1


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


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! ;-)

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "Zebra" only works for Americans. The rest of the world pronounces it "Zed". $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2020 at 19:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @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, 2020 at 19:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain sure, but I've also heard it pronounced "zeh-bra", particularly by non-American English speakers $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2020 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, 2020 at 3:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 'uudecode'. OK maybe a slight stretch... $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2020 at 1:03

Your Answer

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

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