Words that End in Gry
Without a doubt the most common question we receive from visitors to Fun-with-words.com is about the famous "-gry" puzzle, so we've decided to put the story of this curious puzzle on the site. Here it is.
The puzzle is essentially this: There are three English words ending in "-gry". Two are "angry" and "hungry". What is the third one?
There is no other common word ending in "-gry", so how did the puzzle come about? It first appeared in print in 1975.
Perhaps the answer to the original version of the puzzle was meagry or aggry (as in "aggry bead"). There are over 100 obsolete words that end in "-gry" (see below), and these two were in use until fairly recently. However, since there is no longer a real answer to this, modern versions of the puzzle have turned from being puzzles to being riddles. There are perhaps as many as a dozen versions in circulation - each with a different answer!
Words Ending in Gry
We shall look at each of eight versions of the "-gry" puzzle, and their answers. (Some of these are discussed by Chris Cole in "Wordplay: A Curious Dictionary of Language Oddities".)
1. Think of words ending in "-gry". "Angry" and "hungry" are two of them. There are only three words in "the English language." What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is.
The answer is language.
It is the third word of "the English language". The question needs to be spoken, otherwise the quotation marks give away the trick. This version apparently originated in 1996.
2. "Angry" and "hungry" are two words in the English language that end in "-gry". "What" is the third word. The word is something that everyone uses everyday. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is.
The answer is what.
The question states that "what" is the third word, then it asks for the third word. Again this version needs to be spoken to be effective.
3. There are three words in English that end in "gree." The first two are "angry" and "hungry," and if you've listened closely you'll agree that I've told you the third one.
The answer is agree.
It is a phonetic version of the riddle, asking for words that end in the sound "gree," but tricks people into thinking about the letters g-r-y by giving the two examples.
4. There are three words in the English language that end in the letters g-r-y. Two are "hungry" and "angry." Everyone knows what the third word means, and everyone uses it every day. What is the third word?
The answer is energy.
The question asks for a word ending with the three letters g-r-y, but does not stipulate that they must be in that order.
5. There are at least three words in the English language that end in g or y. One of them is "hungry," and another one is "angry." There is a third word, a short one, which you probably say every day. If you are listening carefully to everything I say, you just heard me say it three times. What is it?
The answer is say.
The question must be said in such a way that the word "or" sounds like the letter "r". Once more, to be effective it is crucial that this version is spoken rather than printed. This version is first known to have appeared in 1997.
6. There are three words in the English language that end in "-gry." Two words that end in "-gry" are "hungry" and "angry." Everyone knows what the third word means, and everyone uses them every day. If you listened very carefully, I have already stated to you what the third word is. What are the three words that solve this riddle?
The answer is I am hungry.
The question asks for three words that end in "-gry", but does not say that they each must end in "-gry."
7. There are three words in the English language that end in "-gry." One is "angry" and the other is "hungry." Everyone knows what the third one means and what it stands for. Everyone uses them every day. And if you listened carefully I've given you the third word, what is it?
The answer is three.
It is the third word in the question, and the rest of the question is irrelevant: a red herring designed to put the solver off.
8. There are only three words in the English language, all adjectives, which end in "-gry." Two are "angry" and "hungry"; the third word describes the state of the world today. What is it?
This is the (presumed) original version of the puzzle from 1975. The possible answers (if obsolete words, names, and hyphenated compounds of "angry" and "hungry" are allowed) are plentiful. Most of the 124 listed below were in the 1933 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, and all have appeared in some major dictionary of English:
If all this has left you feeling a little disappointed that there is no proper answer to the words that end in gry puzzle, then have a go at this one:
There are two common words in the English language that end in "-shion". Can you think what they are? (This one isn't a trick question! We promise!)
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