-gry

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{@card@, make, design}
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The Gry Puzzle is a popular puzzle that asks for the third English word, other than "angry" and "hungry," that ends with the letters "-gry." Aside from words derived from "angry" and "hungry," there is no stand-alone word ending in "-gry" that is in current usage.

Both Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2002, ISBN 0-87779-201-1) and the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 1989, ISBN 0-19-861186-2) contain the compound word "aggry bead." To find a third word ending in -gry that is not part of a phrase, you must turn to archaic, obsolete, or uncommon words, or personal or place names.

This puzzle has no good answer, yet it has become the most frequently asked word puzzle.[1][2][3]

Contents

Puzzle as quest

This topic is a source of lively interest, both to lovers of word puzzles and lovers of words. Intriguingly, there are members of the latter group who have little or no interest in the puzzle, per se; the challenge is in the list (of words). For both groups, much of the appeal lies in the quest, either to trace the origin of the puzzle or compile a complete list of words ending in -gry.

History

Merriam-Webster, publishers of the leading American dictionaries, first heard of this puzzle in a letter dated March 17, 1975, from Patricia Lasker of Brooklyn, New York. Lasker says her plant manager heard the question on a quiz show. Since that time Merriam-Webster has received about four letters each year[1] asking the question.

This puzzle first appears in print in Anita Richterman's "Problem Line" column in Newsday on April 29, 1975. One "M.Z." from Wantagh states that the problem was asked on a TV quiz program. Richterman states that she asked a learned professor of English for help when she first received the inquiry, and he did not respond for over a month.

In Anita Richterman's column on May 9, 1975, several correspondents reported that they had heard the puzzle on the Bob Grant radio talk show on WMCA in New York City. As this is not a TV quiz show, this may not be the origin of the puzzle. The majority of readers gave the answer "gry," one of the obsolete words listed at the end of this article. It is unclear whether this was the answer given on the Grant show.

Ralph G. Beaman in the "Kickshaws" column in Word Ways for February 1976 reports that the Delaware Valley was mystified during the fall of 1975 by the question. By this time the puzzle seems to have mutated to a form in which the missing word is an adjective that describes the state of the world.

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