Victoria Neufeldt vneufeldt at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Sat Jan 20 04:51:27 UTC 2001

Merriam-Webster has a form letter to reply to -gry queries.  If all the
letters received over the years have been kept, there must be a separate
basement full of them, somewhere.  The letters (and now e-mails as well, of
course) often come in batches, apparently the result of teachers' or
professors' misguided attempts to come up with linguistic assignments for


Victoria Neufeldt
1533 Early Drive
Saskatoon, Sask.
S7H 3K1

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of Lynne Murphy
> Sent: Wednesday, January 10, 2001 1:43 PM
> Subject: Re: query
> --On Wednesday, January 10, 2001 2:20 pm -0500 Beverly Flanigan
> <flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU> wrote:
> > A TA of mine just asked me what the three English words ending in -gry
> > are, and I could only recall "angry" and "hungry."  Can someone
> remind me
> > what the third one is?
> There is no third one.  Here's Jesse S's note from the archives.  I must
> say, I'm as sick of the query as he was then!  Hard to believe how often
> this goes around.
> Lynne
> Date:  Thu, 9 May 1996 10:38:50 -0400
>   From:  Jesse T Sheidlower  jester at PANIX.COM
>   Subject: Re: Words that end in GRY
>     In the past few weeks I've seen this unanswered puzzler pop
> up in three
>     different circles. So excuse me while I introduce it to this circle
> which
>     might be able to answer it.
>     The English language has (at least) three words that end in GRY.
> "Angry" and
>     "hungry" are two of them. What is the third, which purportedly is an
> everyday
>     word?
>   AAAAaaaaargh!
>   Does _every corner_ of the Internet have to be saturated with this?
>   The answer to the riddle in the form you heard it (as opposed to the
>   form you're quoting) is either "what" or "three." It's a shaggy-dog
>   riddle. ("There are three words..." the question begins, and when the
>   question asks "what is the third word?" it's really asking "what is
>   the third word of the riddle?" Alternately, the question is asked
>   earlier in the riddle, and then the last line is "'What' is the
>   word.", declaratively--this version only works when heard orally.)
>   As for words that end in -gry, there are a whole bunch, none of them
>   common, including puggry, maugry, iggry, aggry, gry, and others, but
>   the best is _nugry,_ coined on rec.games.puzzles to mean 'the sort of
>   person who will ask the words ending in -gry question without
>   checking to see if five billion people have already asked it here
>   before'.
>   JTS
> M Lynne Murphy
> Lecturer in Linguistics
> School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
> University of Sussex
> Brighton BN1 9QH
> UK
> phone +44-(0)1273-678844
> fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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