> Someone at work gave me this riddle the other day and none of us
> (including the person who gave it to me) can figure it out. It goes
> like this.
> There are three words the English lanquage that end in "gry" . One is
> hungry and one is angry. Everyone knows what the third word means and
> we use them everyday. And if you've listened closely I've already given
> you the third word. What is it?
> If anyone can find the answer or knows already, please E-mail me. Thank
Welcome to rec.puzzles. You may be interested in this
entry from the rec.puzzles archive:
==> language/english/spelling/gry.p <==
Find three completely different words ending in "gry."
==> language/english/spelling/gry.s <==
Aside from "angry" and "hungry" and words derived therefrom, 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_ and the _Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition_ contain
the phrase "aggry bead." To find a third word ending in "gry" that is
not part of a phrase, you must turn to obsolete words or personal or
place names. A list of 130 of these is given at the end of this
So, basically, this puzzle has no good answer. Why, then, is it so
popular? What follows is a conjecture about the history of this very
Perhaps someone was browsing through an old dictionary or a book on
unusual and interesting words, and came across the word "meagry,"
meaning meager. Perhaps they noticed that this old word had an unusual
ending, an ending it shared with only two other words: "angry" and
"hungry." Perhaps they were inspired to make up a puzzle, and send it
to a newspaper columnist or a popular radio show. Perhaps the puzzle
was published or broadcast. Perhaps the rest, as they say, is
This puzzle first appears in print in Anita Richterman's "Problem Line"
column in Newsday on May 9, 1975. Several correspondents reported in
this article that they had heard the puzzle on the Bob Grant Talk Show
on WMCA-AM in New York City. The original form of the puzzle was:
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 appears to be the origin of this puzzle. Additional evidence for
this hypothesis is found in the correspondence files of
Merriam-Webster. These files contain letters to the editors of
Merriam-Webster (formerly G. & C. Merriam Co.), publishers of Webster's
Collegiate Dictionary and Webster's International Dictionary. These
files go back over 100 years. Letters asking for the third word ending
in "gry" do not appear until 1975, but there is a steady stream
However, the word "meagry" is not in any current dictionary. Nor are
any of the words on the list below. So, people could not find an
answer. Nature abhors a vacuum, so people resorted to trick
solutions. Thus the modern versions of this puzzle were born.
Everyone is confident that the versions they originally heard were the
true and correct versions. The plain facts are that there is no good
answer, and that there is no one version that is correct. Some of the
trick versions are enumerated below.
This version only works when spoken:
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 already told you the third one.
The answer is "agree." The object is to make the listener think about
the letters g-r-y instead of the sound "gree."
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 riddle says that the word ends in the
_letters_ g-r-y; it says nothing about the order of the letters.
Energy is something everyone uses everyday, and everyone probably knows
what it means.
The "Ask Marilyn" (Marilyn Vos Savant) column in Parade magazine on
March 9, 1997 featured this spoken version:
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." This version depends upon the listener confusing
the spoken word "or" and the spoken letter r.
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. The three words that solve this riddle are...?
The answer is the three-word sentence "I am hungry." This version asks for
three words that end in "gry," not three words each of which end in "gry."
The remaining versions are a form of meta-puzzle, in the sense that
they make no use of the actual letters "gry" themselves, which
therefore are a red herring. The red herring only works because there
is another puzzle that does use these letters (even though that puzzle
has no good answer).
On March 28, 1996, one such version was broadcast on WHTZ in New York
City during "The Elvis Duran Afternoon Show." The person asking the
question was a caller who worked in a beauty salon at a mall somewhere
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 everyday. If
you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is.
The answer to this version is "language" -- the third word in the
phrase "the English language." There are quotation marks needed to
make this answer correct when the puzzle is printed, but they give away
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." But again, the quotation marks spoil the puzzle
when it is printed.
This version is usually stated with certain words capitalized, for no
apparent reason but historical accident:
There are three words in the English language that end in "gry." ONE
is angry and the other is hungry. Every ONE knows what the third ONE
means and what it stands for. Every ONE uses them every day. And if
you listened carefully I've given you the third word. What is it?
The answer is "three," the third word in the paragraph. The rest of
the paragraph is a red herring.
A -GRY STORY IN LIMERICK
Karen Lingel (Physicist and Penguinist)
Some nusgry just cannot be coaxed
That the whole -gry thing is a hoax
So they make up a word
And spread it -- absurd!
To the other brand new nugry folks.
For instance, there's "language" -- no way!
And "what" -- this favorite will stay!
They pat their own backs.
They're too clever by half!
They've solved the Prime Mystery today!
Some others will say, yeah there's "puggry"
I use it all day! Also "aggry".
And some unschooled
Will surely be fooled.
They'll smile -- they've found it: the third -gry!
The new fad, "g or y", still sucks
It was published by Marilyn (for yuks?)
The nusgry love this!
These nusgry are real dumb, uh, ducks.
For Never in this Planet's Hist'ry
Has anyone fibbed -- not a whit, see.
A 'net stranger can't LIE!
(They all seem to cry)
There must be a solution for this -gry!
Some people believe in such junk --
Stuff that I (PhD!) can debunk.
But will anyone listen?
No! Their brains are Out Fishin'!
I should just give up and get drunk.
Here is the list of obsolete words, phrases and names:
[Explanation of references is given at the end of the list.]
affect-hungry [OED (see "sado-masochism")]
aggry [OED:1:182; W2; W3]
Agry [OED (see "snappily")]
Agry Dagh (Mount Agry) [EB11]
ahungry [OED:1:194; FW; W2]
air-hungry [OED (see "Tel Avivian")]
angry [OED; FW; W2; W3]
anhungry [OED:1:332; W2]
Badagry [Johnston; EB11; OED (see "Dahoman")]
Ballingry [Bartholomew:40; CLG:151; RD:164, pl.49]
boroughmongry [OED (see "boroughmonger")]
cottagry [OED (see "cottagery")]
Croftangry [DFC, as "Chrystal Croftangry"; OED (see "way")]
diamond-hungry [OED (see "Lorelei")]
dogge-hungry [OED (see "canine")]
eard-hungry [CED (see "yird"); CSD]
Echanuggry [Century:103-104, on inset map, Key 104 M 2]
Egry [France; TIG]
euer-angry [OED (see "ever")]
fenegry [OED (see "fenugreek")]
girl-hungry [OED (see "girl")]
gonagry [OED (see "gonagra")]
gry (from Latin _gry_) [OED:4/2:475; W2]
gry (from Romany _grai_) [W2]
haegry [EDD (see "hagery")]
higry pigry [OED:5/1:285]
hogry [EDD (see "huggerie"); CSD]
hogrymogry [EDD (see "huggerie"); CSD (as "hogry-mogry")]
hongry [OED:5/1:459; EDD:3:282]
hound-hungry [OED (see "hound")]
houngry [OED (see "minx")]
huggrymuggry [EDD (see "huggerie"); CSD (as "huggry-muggry")]
hund-hungry [OED (see "hound")]
hungry [OED; FW; W2; W3]
Hungry Bungry [Daily Illini, in ad for The Giraffe, Spring 1976]
hwngry [OED (see "quart")]
job-hungry [OED (see "gadget")]
kaingry [EDD (see "caingy")]
land-hungry [OED; W2]
Langry [TIG; Times]
ledderhungry [OED (see "leather")]
life-hungry [OED (see "music")]
losengry [OED (see "losengery")]
MacLoingry [Phillips (as "Flaithbhertach MacLoingry")]
magry [OED:6/2:36, 6/2:247-48]
managry [OED (see "managery")]
mannagry [OED (see "managery")]
Margry [Indians (see "Pierre Margry" in bibliog., v.2, p.1204)]
meat-hungry [W2; OED (see "meat")]
menagry [OED (see "managery")]
music-hungry [OED (see "music")]
overangry [RH1; RH2]
Pelegry [CE (in main index as "Raymond de Pelegry")]
Pingry [Bio-Base; HPS:293-94, 120-21]
Podagry [OED; W2 (below the line)]
Pongry [Andree (Supplement, p.572)]
pottingry [OED:7/2:1195; Jamieson:3:532]
power-hungry [OED (see "power")]
profit-hungry [OED (see "profit")]
puggry [OED:8/1:1573; FW; W2]
red-angry [OED (see "sanguineous")]
scavengry [OED (in 1715 quote under "scavengery")]
Schtschigry [LG/1:2045; OSN:97]
Seagry [TIG; EB11]
Segry [Johnston; Andree]
selfe-angry [OED (see "self-")]
sensation-hungry [OED (see "sensation")]
sex-angry [OED (see "sex")]
sex-hungry [OED (see "cave")]
Shchigry [CLG:1747; Johnson:594; OSN:97,206; Times:185,pl.45]
Shtchigry [LG/1:2045; LG/2:1701]
sight-hungry [OED (see "sight")]
skugry [OED:9/2:156, 9/1:297; Jamieson:4:266]
Tchangry [Johnson:594; LG/1:435,1117]
th'angry [OED (see "shot-free")]
Tingry [France; EB11 (under "Princesse de Tingry"); OED (see "parquet")]
toggry [Simmonds (as "Toggry", but all entries are capitalized)]
ulgry [Partridge; Smith:24-25]
unangry [OED; W2]
vngry [OED (see "wretch")]
war-hungry [OED (see "war")]
Wigry [CLG:2090; NAP:xxxix; Times:220, pl.62; WA:948]
yeard-hungry [CED (see "yird")]
yerd-hungry [CED (see "yird"); OED]
yird-hungry [CED (see "yird")]
Ymagry [OED:1:1009 (col. 3, 1st "boss" verb), (variant of "imagery")]
This list was gathered from the following articles:
George H. Scheetz, In Goodly Gree: With Goodwill, Word Ways 22:3 (Nov.
Murray R. Pearce, Who's Flaithbhertach MacLoingry?, Word Ways 23:1 (Feb.
Harry B. Partridge, Gypsy Hobby Gry, Word Ways 23:1 (Feb. 1990)
A. Ross Eckler, -Gry Words in the OED, Word Ways 25:4 (Nov. 1992)
Darryl Francis, Some New -Gry Words, Word Ways 30:3 (Aug. 1997)
(Many references are of the form [Source:volume:page] or [Source:page].)
Andree, Richard. Andrees Handatlas (index volume). 1925.
Bartholomew, John. Gazetteer of the British Isles: Statistical and
BBC = BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of English Names.
Bio-Base. (Microfiche) Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1980.
CE = Catholic Encyclopedia. 1907.
CED = Chambers English Dictionary. 1988.
Century = "India, Northern Part." The Century Atlas of the World. 1897,
CLG = The Colombia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World. L.E.Seltzer, ed.
CSD = Chambers Scots Dictionary. 1971 reprint of 1911 edition.
Daily Illini (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).
DFC = Dictionary of Fictional Characters. 1963.
EB11 = Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed.
EDD = The English Dialect Dictionary. Joseph Wright, ed. 1898.
France = Map Index of France. G.H.Q. American Expeditionary Forces. 1918.
FW = Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language. 1943.
HPS = The Handbook of Private Schools: An Annual Descriptive Survey of
Independent Education, 66th ed. 1985.
Indians = Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. F. W. Hodge. 1912.
Jamieson, John. An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language.
Johnston, Keith. Index Geographicus... 1864.
LG/1 = Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing
or Geographical Dictionary of the World. 1888.
LG/2 = Lippincott's New Gazetteer: ... 1906.
Lipp = Lippincott's Pronouncing Gazetteer of the World. 1861, undated
edition from late 1800's; 1902.
NAP = Narodowy Atlas Polski. 1973-1978 [Polish language]
OED = The Oxford English Dictionary. 1933. [Form: OED:volume/part number if
OSN: U.S.S.R. Volume 6, S-T. Official Standard Names Approved by the United
States Board on Geographic Names. Gazetteer #42, 2nd ed. June 1970.
Partridge, Harry B. "Ad Memoriam Demetrii." Word Ways, 19 (Aug. 1986): 131.
Phillips, Lawrence. Dictionary of Biographical Reference. 1889.
RD = The Reader's Digest Complete Atlas of the British Isles, 1st ed. 1965.
RH1 = Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. 1966.
RH2 = Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition
Simmonds, P.L. Commercial Dictionary of Trade Products. 1883.
Smith, John. The True Travels, Adventvres and Observations: London 1630.
Stieler, Adolph. Stieler's Handatlas (index volume). 1925.
TIG = The Times Index-Gazetteer of the World. 1965.
Times = The Times Atlas of the World, 7th ed. 1985.
W2 = Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language,
Second Edition, Unabridged. 1934.
W3 = Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language,
WA = The World Atlas: Index-Gazetteer. Council of Ministires of the USSR,
Worcester, J.E. Universal Gazetteer, Second Edition. 1823.
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