FV. Singmastery!

David Singmaster, Puzzler Extraordinaire, early master of the Rubik’s Cube, poser of the Singmaster Conjecture, etc, etc, engages in some wordplay.


  1. Brian Tristam Williams said,

    June 15, 2009 at 11:17 am

    A high-school favourite of mine:

    Punctuate the following so that it makes sense:

    alice while matthew had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher

    Ready for it… ?

    Alice, while Matthew had had “had,” had had “had had.” “Had had” had had a better effect on the teacher.

  2. jyoak said,

    June 16, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Wow!  I had come today to post exactly the same item.  :-)

  3. Mike Jarvis said,

    June 25, 2009 at 3:36 am

    More quad-homophones (or is it tetra-homophone, since homophone has Greek etymology?) arranged roughly in order of quality, although I think they are all more legit than agreeee or bullllama.
    My best ones:
    lays, laze, leis, lase
    air, heir, ere, err
    medal, meddle, metal, mettle (depending on your pronunciation)
    Using Greek letters as words:
    rose, rhos, rows, roes (roe deer, that is, not the eggs which is already plural)
    new, knew, gnu, nu
    Using English letters as words:
    sees, seas, seize, C’s
    peas, pease, pees, P’s
    tea, tee, ti (the musical note), T
    teas, tease, tees, T’s
    you, ewe, yew, U
    use, ewes, yews, U’s
    Using Scottish:
    nay, neigh, nee, nae
    brays, braise, braze, braes
    Using rare words:
    way, weigh, whey (assuming you don’t aspirate wh), wey (=224 lbs)
    seer, sear, sere, cere (=part of a parrot’s beak)
    maze, maize, mays, mase (=like lase, but for microwaves)
    wheel, we’ll, weal (=general welfare), wheal (=welt) (again assuming wh=w)
    oar, or, ore, o’er (poetic, but not a standard contraction)
    rays, raise, raze, res (as in: There are 7 res on a piano for the key of C.)(*)
    And depending on what you are willing to accept, four of these can bump up to pent-homophones:
    lays, laze, leis, lase, leas (the “lay” pronunciation is second listing for lea in Webster, but still acceptable)
    air, heir, ere, err, e’er
    teas, tease, tees, T’s, tis (*)
    use, ewes, yews, U’s, youse (NY/Philly slang)

    There are even more if you start allowing proper nouns (e.g. peek, peak, pique, Peke), or two word phrases (e.g. assent, ascent, a cent, a scent), but that seemed to be stretching too far.

    (*)Wiktionary declares re and ti to be “uncountable” — and hence no plural — but what do they know?

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

The Math Factor Podcast Website

Quality Math Talk Since 2004, on the web and on KUAF 91.3 FM

A production of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark USA

Download a great math factor poster to print and share!

Got an idea? Want to do a guest post? Tell us about it!

Heya! Do us a favor and link here from your site!