Riddle? -- or Hoax!

by Paul Niquette

There are three words in the English language. 
What is the third word? 


hat venerable entry appeared in a puzzle chat-room in 1997.  The thing brought several humorless responses. "This conundrum isn't a riddle; it's a hoax," someone complained. "Although there are a very few obscure and archaic words that loosely fit the description, there are no more common words that end in '-gry'!" [Exclamation point in the original.]

Now, since it has a satisfactory solution without poetry, it does not qualify as a conundrum. Whether it's a riddle or a hoax depends on the solver's disposition in the absence of quotation marks around "the English language." Whether it belongs in this collection as a puzzle depends, apparently, on the solver's disposition.


What has two wheels, seven letters, and starts with the letter B? 


 (I lied about the wheels.)


Messages commenting on Riddle? -- or Hoax! included this mini-memoir received in 2003.

Dear Paul, 

When I was 14 years old, I perplexed my English teacher with a riddle that was then making the rounds...

There are many words in the English language which end in "-enny" such as penny, spinning jenny etc.; however, there are only three words in English which end in "-eny."  One of them is "progeny" and "larceny" is other one.  Can you find the third word?
As have all of my riddlees over the years, the teacher shrugged and said right away that a scan of any dictionary will reveal that there are any number of words ending in "-eny" -- surely more than three.   At this point, I always shake my head then point out that it is an every-day word, and, after allowing for some hemming and hawing, I drop another hint... 
It is a four-letter word.
The unsuspecting will invariably set about to pronounce four-letter concoctions one by one, most often in alphabetical order: "aeny," "beny,"..."zeny." 

Let me know if you want me to give you the third word. 

So Long!

Ketan Bhaidasna
Modulation Sciences Inc.

You really had me going on this one, Ketan, and I will not deny resorting to determinism for solving it.  Relaxation of your four-letter constraint, though, allows for the citation of diverse sources, ranging from SNL's mundane spoof of "androgeny" all the way to Darwin's observation, "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny," which applies two words ending in "-eny" that the sophisticated solver might indeed use every day (ahem).
Note: Solvers are invited to enjoy another contribution by Ketan Bhaidasna in the solution to "Palindromes for all Time."

puzzle v. tr. 1. To cause uncertainty and indecision in; perplex. 2. To clarify or solve (something convusing) by reasoning or sturdy.. Used with out: "He / she puzzled out the significance of her / his statement."

v. intr. To be perplexed. 2. To ponder over a problem in an effort to solve or understand it.

n. 1. Something that puzzles. 2. A toy, game, or testing device that tests ingenuity. 3. The condition of being perplexed; bewildered. [Origin obscure]. {Return} 

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
-- Houghton Mifflin Company

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