Earlier today I set you the four puzzles below, taken from the MIT Technology Review’s Puzzle Corner.

1. What is the numerically largest Roman numeral that is a normal English word?

Solution: MMM = 3000 is in the dictionary app in my computer, and is allowed in Scrabble, so I think it wins. The Shorter OED only has MM = 2000. If you think that interjections/exclamations don’t count as ‘normal’ words, the next best I think is MID = 1499

2. How do you prove literally that 11 + 2 = 12 + 1?

Solution: If you write out each side of the equation as words, you will discover the curious fact that ELEVEN AND TWO is an anagram of TWELVE AND ONE.

3. The 9-letter word SPLATTERS has an intriguing property. You can remove a single letter to make an 8-letter word, without rearranging the other letters. You can remove another letter to make a 7-letter word, and then a 6-letter word, and so on down to a single-letter word. At no stage is the order of the letters rearranged.

splatters, splatter, platter, latter, later, late, ate, at, a.

Find two other 9-letter words that share the same property. As a (kosher) hint, the words pig and sin appear as the 3-letter words. (Remember: at no stage do you ever change the order of the letters.)

Solution: Here are the two I was thinking of. If you have found any more, please post them below the line.

sparkling, sparking, sparing, spring, sprig, prig, pig, pi, I.

startling, starting, staring, string, sting, sing, sin, in, I.

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4. What is special about 8,549,176,320?

Solution: The clue was in the text when I said that all these puzzles were ‘word-based.’ If you write out the words for the digits, and read them alphabetically, you will describe the above number.

Eight, Five, Four, Nine, One, Seven, Six, Three, Two, Zero.

I hope you enjoyed these puzzles, I’ll be back in two weeks.

Thanks to Allan Gottlieb for permission to use today’s puzzles.

I set a puzzle here every two weeks on a Monday. I’m always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.



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