We've probably all seen at least one of the "What is a XXX Word™?" puzzles. They were started off by JLee in July 2015 and have been going strong ever since, with 30 posted to date.

Unlike most of the 'fads' Puzzling SE has seen (the Security to the Party puzzles of late 2014, the rebus craze of early 2015, the $n$ Words (----||||) puzzles of mid-2015, and so on), these puzzles have withstood both the twin tests of time and votes. Usually such 'fads' don't last long - a few months at most - and the question scores rapidly decline after the first one or two posted as people get bored of the idea. But the ™ puzzles have lasted for over a year and are still popular today, with at least one of them on the HNQs at the time of this writing. It looks like they're good quality and here to stay.

Moreover, there really is a specific type of puzzle here: the ™ thing isn't just a gimmick that could be put on many more puzzles than it is. They're a 'sequence' defined not just by a common flavour text and OP like the Ernie or Mysterious Email puzzles, but by the following definitive puzzle type:

  • some unknown property of certain words/phrases is to be found
  • a list of words with this property is provided, and also some without it for comparison.

I propose that we create a tag for this type of puzzle.

For want of a better tag name, how about ?

(Yes, I realise that this would be a sub-tag of , but we've already established that sub-tags and super-tags are OK here. Popular tags such as and already have various sub-tags covered by them.)

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    $\begingroup$ The title of this post is meant to be a humorous reference to the titles of the puzzles under discussion. If you think it's too confusing, feel free to change it to something more descriptive of this question. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ I think the title is fine! Not sure about "tm-puzzle" as a name though... $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ tm-word or tm-words seems a bit more accurate. Any tag that includes "puzzle" runs the risk of being redundant. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Dan People don't seem to like the idea of putting tm in the tag name. See my answer here, suggesting word-property, and Deusovi's answer with several more suggestions. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 20:37

4 Answers 4


I think a tag would be a great idea! Not sure if there's anything I can really say - you articulated pretty much everything I would've tried to say much better than I ever could, and a lot more too.

I'm not really a fan of though - it just doesn't seem descriptive. Since many of the tags here are Puzzling-exclusive, I'd prefer to have them be as understandable as possible to outsiders who come across them for the first time. (If I had it my way, would be changed to something like (though probably not that exactly, since it doesn't sound very good), and would be... well, it wouldn't exist, but that's another issue entirely.)

Maybe something like or ? Or possibly , though that might give the impression that the goal is classification of new words rather than finding the pattern.

  • $\begingroup$ The voting on this answer suggests people support the creation of a tag for these puzzles. But there's no clear consensus on a name for the tag (except probably not tm-puzzle): you've included a few possibilities here, plus there's another one in my answer below which also got an upvote. Shall I go ahead and create a word-property tag? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 14:33

Suggested tag name: .

Suggested tag wiki excerpt:

For puzzles which ask the solver to determine a hidden property of certain words (or phrases), given a set of words with that property and usually also a set of words without it for comparison. Puzzles with this tag usually have titles of the form "What is a [...] Word™?"

Suggested tag wiki:

Puzzles with this tag usually take approximately the following form:

Title: What is a XXX Word™?

If a word conforms to a special rule, I call it a XXX Word™.

Use the list of examples below to find the rule.

[list of XXX words]

[list of non-XXX words]

The trend was started by user JLee in July 2015 with the puzzle What is a Versatile Word™? and has been kept up ever since. XXX is normally an adjective which cryptically describes some property of the word. This property is what solvers are expected to find, and it can be pretty much anything you like: it can be about the meaning of the word, the letters within it, or anything else.

Sometimes this tag can also be used for puzzles about properties of phrases instead of words, e.g. What is a Surpassing Phrase™?

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    $\begingroup$ A couple of points I'm unsure of: 1) the tag name - is word-properties a good name? should it be word-property instead? 2) phrases - should the tag cover both "What is a XXX Word™?" and "What is a XXX Phrase™?" puzzles, or only the word ones with maybe a different tag for the phrase ones? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ I think the tag should cover both Word™ and Phrase™ puzzles, but using "word" may be fine (since phrases are just multiple words anyway). $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ Coudln't a word-something tag be used for both with prhase-something as synonym? $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ JLee's first (tm) puzzle was earlier than the cited "Versatile Word" one. I think the first may be this: puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/16219/… $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan Mod
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Gareth You're right, that seems to be the first of JLee's ™ puzzles. However, I also discovered that the puzzle type is actually older than we'd thought and wasn't invented by JLee: see these older puzzles which should also be tagged [word-property]. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, good discovery! I see that one of them is by some guy called Rand al'Thor -- any relation? :-) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 20:41

I agree with the sentiment of somehow nicely tagging/grouping these puzzles, but only if - and I haven't checked all of them - they really fit into a specific category.

I do not like the idea of grouping this questions with a tag purely to provide a convenient link. They can already be easily searched for by their common style.

So, if we're gooing to introduce a new tag, we need to find what really defines these type of puzzles. (In what way are they different from the connected-wall puzzles?)

Is it, that:

The pattern is not in the meaning of the words but usually a commony property of the type-face, font or similar?

If so, this is what should be indicated in the the tag.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes. I already covered this in the question here, and established that they do fit into a specific category: they're a puzzle type defined by the requirement to identify a property of words given a list of words with that property. The property could relate to the meaning, the type-face, or pretty much anything else; it doesn't matter. (See also the tag wiki suggested in my answer here.) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor Exactly. My issue here is, that unless there is a more restricting, common property of all those puzzles (which could be the tagname), then a new tag is not needed and 'pattern' does just fine. In particular if meaning etc also can be the property, then the connected-wall puzzles would also fall into the same tag, wouldn't they? $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ No, pattern doesn't do just fine, because that tag is also used to cover hundreds of other puzzles: number patterns, colour patterns, letter patterns, different kinds of word pattern questions. And the connected-wall puzzles (assuming you mean ones like this) don't fall into the same tag because they're not about identifying a specific property of words given a list of words with that property. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, slightly but not fully convinced, @randal'thor. Maybe 'common-property' would be better name tag, then? It could be used for different non-word related puzzles of similar kind as well and is sufficiently different from 'pattern' $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ That could certainly be a good idea for a tag, but then we'd have to do a lot more retagging than just those 30-odd ™ questions (and spend more time finding the questions that need the tag, too). I wonder what proportion of the pattern questions would count as common-property? We could take a random sample and check ... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 12:44

Just to toss another idea for the tag name into the ring:

  • $\begingroup$ Hmm ... would this tag be for all pattern puzzles about words, or just for those of the type specified here (where there's a specific property of certain words to be worked out, given a list)? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's best to have a tag that just describes the ™-style puzzles. If you don't think this fits for that purpose, please downvote it. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 15:00

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