The 36 words below comprise a set of eight related to eight, a set of seven related to seven, a set of six related to six, and so on. Which word belongs to the set of one?

ABILITY       ALTO          ARCHING       BANANA        BONE          BOSC
BRAN          COMPUTER      CONFERENCE    CONY          CRAG          DENT
DOG           ENABLE        FILE          FLING         GLENDA        GLUE
GRASS         GUN           IMPOSE        JOE           LAZY          MODEL
MORE          NATURAL       NEON          PERCY         POLLOCK       RASH
SCRIPT        SECRET        SHIRLEY       STRING        VIAL          VISOR

(With apologies to the GCHQ Kristmas Kwiz / puzzle book compilers, with whom this puzzle format originates.)

  • $\begingroup$ When you say "related to eight", does that mean eight of the words are somehow actually related to the number 8? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Mar 15 '20 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ I think the lack of clarity is probably deliberate. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Mar 15 '20 at 17:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Annoyingly, this seems to have the "Only Connect" feature that some words fit well in multiple groups. At any rate, I have ten things in what I am fairly sure is meant to be the group of 8 :-). $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Mar 15 '20 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ We've found a few possible options now for the set of four. Any comment on the partial answer, or are you waiting for everything to be finished? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Mar 18 '20 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ Your set of 8 has 7 correct answers so far, and elimination isn't much fun, so rot13 for the 'wrong' member: (fgevat orybatf ryfrjurer.) I've clearly made the 7-set much too difficult, beyond the point of unfairness, and I should have realised this and corrected it. Apologies. The sets of 5, 4, 3, and 2 are now correct. Advice on the set of 6: (nyy ner zvffvat fbzrguvat va pbzzba.) $\endgroup$ – strobes Mar 18 '20 at 15:55

Partial answer - sets of 8, 5, 4(?), 3, 2 found so far

One set of words is formed by

relationship with the word SUPER: superscript, supercomputer, supernatural, superimpose, superstring, superglue, supermodel, supervisor. That's eight words, and apparently there's a film called Super 8.

We still need to find the sets of size seven and six

Another set is formed by

relationship with the word JACKSON: Shirley Jackson, Joe Jackson, Percy Jackson, Glenda Jackson, Jackson Pollock. That's five words, and apparently there's a band called Jackson Five.

Another set is (possibly?) formed by

relationship with the word TOP: top dog, top gun, top secret, top banana. That's four words, and apparently there's a band called Four Tops. (I'm very unsure about "top banana" though. Could also be "top file"?)

Another set is formed by

relationship with the word TRI: trifling, trivial, trident. That's three words, and of course TRI connects with three.

Another set is formed by

types of PEAR: conference pear, Bosc pear. That's two words, and pear sounds like PAIR which connects with two.

That leaves the following words remaining to be classified:

BRAN -------- ---------- CONY CRAG ----
--- ENABLE FILE ----- ------ ----
GRASS --- ------ --- LAZY -----
MORE ------- NEON ----- ------- RASH
------ ------ ------- ------ ---- -----

  • $\begingroup$ There's more possibilities for your first group - this is the one Gareth referred to in his comment above (I have 10 possibles too...). $\endgroup$ – Stiv Mar 15 '20 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor A possible alternate set of four: rot13[Sbhe Gbcf (onaq): gbc onanan, gbc qbt, gbc tha, gbc frperg] $\endgroup$ – hagfy Mar 16 '20 at 13:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor - here banana makes a well known idiom, but file does not,... as you say probably a regional thing $\endgroup$ – tom Mar 18 '20 at 0:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Another option for 4: rot13 [nqq q, gur sbhegu yrggre, gb obar, oena, svyr, naq zber] $\endgroup$ – Herb Mar 18 '20 at 4:13
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    $\begingroup$ 'grass' would also fit in the group of eight. Again this is a regional thing, but this expression was very very well known some years ago where I am based. -- ok not sure how helpful this is, but just in case... $\endgroup$ – tom Mar 25 '20 at 9:54

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