Cranial Callisthenics: The Answers

Wordnerds, you’ve done us proud. As the entries to our Cranial Callisthenics Contest came flying in it was evident that all your hours of preparation had not been wasted. And by George, your responses were not to be sneezed at. We got some great feedback too, as you told us how [expletive deleted] happy you were to have the opportunity to show off your mental agility.

While we didn’t get billions of responses, there were definitely more than we’d expected, so our winners will be announced tomorrow. In the meantime – at long last – the answers. Please keep your “oh I DID know that” groaning to a minimum.


  1. What 8-letter word is the shortest English word that contains all the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F? Feedback
  2. Which came first, the Chicken McNugget or the Egg McMuffin? Egg McMuffin (1973, Chicken McNugget 1983)
  3. Which two-word phrase was used to replace swearing in the White House transcripts used in the “Watergate” hearings? “Expletive deleted”
  4.      Everyone knows that the naturally-occurring chemical elements with the longest names are Protactinium and Praseodymium.  But which element has the shortest name? Tin
  5. Which is the only day of the week to be named (in English) after a Roman god? Saturday
  6. The late American singer Andy Williams owned a 45ft-high letter “W” that cost him over $27,000 – where is it? Hollywood (the “W” in the HOLLYWOOD sign)
  7. Which is the only letter that doesn’t appear anywhere in the symbols for elements in the periodic table? J
  8.     A pencil can be designated “HB”.  What does “HB” stand for? Hard Black
  9. Which familiar 10-letter word can be written using only the top row of a typewriter keyboard (QWERTYUIOP)? TYPEWRITER (there are others, such as perpetuity, proprietor and repertoire)
  10. What type of object might have “pinxit” written on it? A painting (it is Latin for “he/she painted it”)
  11. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the Moon. What was his mother’s maiden name? Moon
  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? Bear
  13. In the UK, it used to be called a milliard – what do they call it now? Billion
  14. How many letters are there in the answer to this question? FOUR
  15. What is Sternutation better known as? Sneezing
  16. At Pratt’s Club in London, members refer to all male staff by the same first name – which name?  George
  17.   NONE, FLOUR, WEIGHT, TERN, THIRSTY – what do they have in common?  Take one letter away and they spell numbers
  18. Which Paul Simon song title was inspired by him seeing a chicken and egg dish in a Chinese Restaurant with the name?  Mother and Child Reunion
  19. Which fruit gets its name from the Aztec word for “testicle”? Avocado
  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? “Bob’s your uncle”
  21. If all 50 US state names were listed alphabetically, which would appear last? Wyoming

31 Responses to “Cranial Callisthenics: The Answers”

  1. I had ‘backedoff’. Oops!

  2. Ooh, I got 19, do you think I won something Chris? Fab quiz! X

  3. You stumped me on plenty, Mr H, fair play to you! Do it again soon.

  4. Oh dear, I think I only managed 17! Love that McMuffin one, thanks Chris!

    • *Only* 17?! I think I’d have been pretty happy with 17, Jilly. It’s a lot easier being question-setter than having to answer them. I was rather pleased with that Chicken McNugget/Egg McMuffin one though I say so myself. Thanks :-)

  5. Most of mine were wrong! That’s me taken down a peg. Please do this again soon, Chris, such fun!

    • I shouldn’t read too much into that. They were just pretty random questions that had word-related and/or interesting answers, Selena. The main thing is you had fun. So “hurray” to that – and yes, we’ll do it again soon :-)

  6. That’s put me right off Paul Simon, that has.

  7. You can buy the hollywood letters? That’s going on my bucket list.

  8. First time in my life I wish I’d payed attention to Watergate!

  9. I do hope this becomes a regular feature, it’s delighted me, although I only managed 18! Thanks Chris!

  10. Why did we change from milliard? It’s so much more poetic.

    • The UK used “milliard” for a thousand million and “billion” for a million million. But the US used “billion” for a thousand million. This became confusing so we in the UK backed down, adopted the US approach… and lost a lovely word in the process, Tania :-(

  11. Why Chris Hancock you’ve brought us such delight!

  12. Holding out hope I might have won something, but either way what a wonderful quiz, thank you so much Chris!

  13. Teehee love how you worked the answers in there! A masterpiece of a quiz.

  14. One of your best ideas, Chris, this puzzleweek! You should start a leaderboard.

    • Thanks, Pat – though the idea of having a Puzzle Week lies elsewhere. I just contributed some of the puzzles, and the final quiz. We had *so* many entries, I think keeping track of a leaderboard might be beyond us.

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