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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 Substantial Word™.
Use the examples below to find the rule.

Note: there is a rule for being on the Substantial list and a rule for being on the Insubstantial list. You must find both.

$ \begin{gather*} % set Title text. (spaces around the text ARE important; do not remove.) % increase Pad value only if your entries are longer than the title bar. % \def\Pad{\P{0.0}} % \def\S#1#2{\Space{#1}{20px}{#2px}}\def\P#1{\V{#1em}}\def\V#1{\S{#1}{9}} \def\T{\textbf{Substantial Words}^{\;\!™}\Pad}\def\NT{\Pad\textbf{Insubstantial Words}^{\;\!™}\Pad\ } \smash{\lower{29px}\bbox[lightblue]{\phantom{\rlap{rubio.2019.05.15}\S{6px}{0} \begin{array}{cc}\Pad\T&\NT\\\end{array}}}}\atop\def\V#1{\S{#1}{5}} \begin{array}{|c|c|}\hline\Pad\T&\NT\\\hline % \text{ dwindled}&\text{ terminology}\\ \hline \text{ flabbergasted}&\text{ marshmallows}\\ \hline \text{ tablecloth}&\text{ mathematician}\\ \hline \text{ abridged}&\text{ splittable}\\ \hline \text{ welcoming}&\text{ maintain}\\ \hline \text{ overcast}&\text{ diminutive}\\ \hline \text{ hamburger}&\text{ pseudonym}\\ \hline \text{ accomplishment}&\text{ psychotherapists}\\ \hline \text{ segregation}&\text{ nowhere}\\ \hline \text{ breadboard}&\text{ probably}\\ \hline \hline \end{array} \end{gather*}$

Many more Substantial and Insubstantial Words exist and are not listed above. Some English words are neither substantial nor insubstantial and some are both.

CSV version:

Substantial Words™, Insubstantial Words™
dwindled            terminology
flabbergasted,      marshmallows
tablecloth,         mathematician
abridged,           splittable
welcoming,          maintain
overcast,           diminutive
hamburger,          pseudonym
accomplishment,     psychotherapists
segregation,        nowhere
breadboard,         probably

What is the special rule these words conform to?

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Substantial and Insubstantial words are

those whose letters contain, in order, a word meaning "large" or "small" respectively.

Thus:

dwindled terminology
flabbergasted, marshmallows
tablecloth, mathematician
abridged, splittable
welcoming, maintain
overcast, diminutive
hamburger, pseudonym
accomplishment, psychotherapists
segregation, nowhere
breadboard, probably

Credit where due: Stiv

found PUNY and SHORT where I had the clearly-inferior PONY and CHEAP.

| improve this answer | |
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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nice work Gareth - a great spot :) I think perhaps rot13(CHAL engure guna CBAL naq FUBEG engure guna PURNC. V yvxr ZVAV gubhtu!) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Mar 27 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ Great job! rot13(Vg vf vaqrrq ZVAV, CHAL, naq FUBEG. Nyfb, V jnf guvaxvat bs ZVAHGR vafvqr qvzvahgvir, ohg vg vf abg jebat gb hfr qvzvahgvir vgfrys.) (@Stiv) $\endgroup$ – DenverCoder1 Mar 27 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ Dunno how I managed to miss rot13(CHAL naq FUBEG), other than the general incompetence already mentioned in my answer. Will tweak accordingly. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Mar 27 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ Now an interesting challenge would be to find a word which is both substantial and insubstantial... $\endgroup$ – Darrel Hoffman Mar 27 at 18:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ rot13(FHOBCGVZNYYL) is both because it rot13(pbagnvaf obgu FZNYY naq GNYY). $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Mar 27 at 18:24

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