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

Rotting Words™ Not Rotting Words™
admin job
box tube
dawn sleep
elm river
fang stun
fusion bomb
lean wheel
opal spots
open hotel
pawn bug

What is the special rule that Rotting Words™ conform to?

What is special about the Not Rotting Words™?


1 Answer 1


A Rotting Word:

Becomes another English word when rot-x is applied, where 'x' is the length of the word itself.

(NB 'rot-x' is shorthand for a Caesar shift of 'x' positions onward through the alphabet...)

Like follows:

admin -- rot-5 --> firns
box -- rot-3 --> era
dawn -- rot-4 --> hear
elm -- rot-3 --> hop
fang -- rot-4 --> jerk
fusion -- rot-6 --> layout
lean -- rot-4 --> pier
opal -- rot-4 --> step
open -- rot-4 --> stir
pawn -- rot-4 --> tear

Note that while most of these are common English words, 'firns' refers to snow that has gone through multiple thaw-and-refreeze cycles.

As for the Not Rotting Words:

All of these do still form real words when a Caesar shift is applied, but in these cases the value of the shift is not equal to the length of the word itself:

job -- rot-12 --> van
tube -- rot-14 --> hips
sleep -- rot-9 --> bunny
river --rot-9 --> arena
stun -- rot-11 --> defy
bomb -- rot-6 --> hush
wheel -- rot-7 --> dolls
spots -- rot-11 --> dazed
hotel -- rot-7 --> ovals
bug -- rot-6 --> ham

  • $\begingroup$ The rule you found applies to not Rotting Words™ as well. Ex. rot13(oht ebg fvk vf unz). $\endgroup$ May 6, 2020 at 7:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @eyl327 But that's not the same rule - bug is only 3 letters long :) Will explain the non-Rotting words once I get out of a meeting in 30 mins! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    May 6, 2020 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ That was... Fast $\endgroup$ May 6, 2020 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ I see you mentioned rot13("jurer 'k' vf gur yratgu bs gur jbeq") already so you did get it originally. I will still like to see the explanation of the non-Rotting Words. $\endgroup$ May 6, 2020 at 8:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I wrote a program to find rotting words. Here's the list of all 199 I found: pastebin.com/M5qSZ6RA. To find the not rotting words I used the same program but added random shift amounts. $\endgroup$ May 6, 2020 at 8:43

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