Cranial Callisthenics Contest

By now you should be running mental laps around your friends and wowing everyone with your mental abilities. You are the elite, the athletes who have made it through our weeklong bootcamp, and emerged as mental pentathletes. But how many of you are ready to be “sextathletes”? (No…stop it…not that. Tsk!)

We’ve devised a cunning set of 21 questions, some lexicographical, some that amuse us, some that might, just might, be devious enough to trip even you, our elite wordnerds, at the final hurdle.

And this time around we’re not going to give you the answers – not quite yet. Because we think it’s time for you to give us the answers. Tweet us a picture of your answers, comment with a link to a picture, or drop us an email at The five best answers we receive by the end of Monday will be awarded GOLD MEDALS – well, ebooks, anyhow. We’ll resort to the ThatWordSite hat if necessary. May the best wordnerds win!

brain champion

1. What 8-letter word is the shortest English word that contains all the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F?

2. Which came first, the Chicken McNugget or the Egg McMuffin?

3. Which two-word phrase was used to replace swearing in the White House transcripts used in the “Watergate” hearings?

4. Everyone knows that the naturally-occurring chemical elements with the longest names are Protactinium and Praseodymium. But which element has the shortest name?

5. Which is the only day of the week to be named (in English) after a Roman god?

6. The late American singer Andy Williams owned a 45ft-high letter “W” that cost him over $27,000 – where is it?

7. Which is the only letter that doesn’t appear anywhere in the symbols for elements in the periodic table?

8. A pencil can be designated “HB”. What does “HB” stand for?

9. Which familiar 10-letter word can be written using only the top row of a typewriter keyboard (QWERTYUIOP)?

10. What type of object might have “pinxit” written on it?

11. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the Moon. What was his mother’s maiden name?

12. Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale” contains a stage direction said to be the most difficult to achieve, where a character must “Exit, pursued by a…” what?

13. In the UK, it used to be called a milliard – what do they call it now?

14. How many letters are there in the answer to this question?

15. What is Sternutation better known as?

16. At Pratt’s Club in London, members refer to all male staff by the same first name – which name?

17. NONE, FLOUR, WEIGHT, TERN, THIRSTY – what do they have in common?

18. Which Paul Simon song title was inspired by him seeing a chicken and egg dish in a Chinese Restaurant with the name?

19. Which fruit gets its name from the Aztec word for “testicle”?

20. What phrase is said to have originated from when Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury unexpectedly appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Minister for Ireland?

21. If all 50 US state names were listed alphabetically, which would appear last?


21 Responses to “Cranial Callisthenics Contest”

  1. Oh Chris Hancock, how you challenge us!

  2. Goodness, that’s going to take a lot of thinking about. But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the week, and I’ll give it my best bash later.

  3. Chris! You are tooooo clever for us. We need some help!

  4. You spoil us Mr Hancock with your prizes! I think I have 15 so far, will keep trying…

  5. Maybe you should give us some hints on Sunday!! Lol!

  6. But Chris, I thought we had an agreement? Where’s your lovely author pic?

  7. I’m fairly sure you tweeted that W one once, but I can’t remember it now!

  8. Must. Not. Google.

  9. I believe this quiz is unfairly biased in favour of clever people! :)

  10. I love a good quiz, and this is a great ‘un.

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