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The meaning and origin of the expression: Words ending in gry

Words ending in gry

What's the origin of the phrase 'Words ending in gry'?

Don't waste your time looking for the mythical 'third word ending in GRY'. If you have come here looking for it, read the explanation below and relax - you can stop searching. The story goes like this:

A riddle of this form is circulating widely on the Internet:

"There are three words in English that end in GRY, hungry and angry are two, what is the third?"

Much effort has gone into finding the word and various pseudo-medical or otherwise obscure words that purport to fit the bill have been put forward. The confusion comes from the fact that the version of the riddle in circulation isn't the original and misses a vital part of the wording. In its original form the riddle went like this:

"Think of words that end in GRY. Angry and hungry are two of them. There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is."

Words ending in gryYou will have realized by now that it's all a linguistic trick and the third word in 'the English language' is of course 'language'.

Just for completeness we ought to add that there are several other words that end in 'gry', not least 'gry' itself, although that does spoil the puzzle rather:

Gry (noun) - The smallest unit in Locke's proposed decimal system of linear measurement, being the tenth of a line, the hundredth of an inch, and the thousandth of a (‘philosophical’) foot.

For example, from 1679 John Locke's Letters to Boyle, 1679:

"The longest ... was three inches and nine grys long, and one inch seven lines in girt."

Gry (verb) - To rage or roar.

For example, from Richard Crew's Tasso's Godfrey of Bulloigne, 1594:

"The hearing this doth force the Tyrant gry, With threatfull sound."

So, now you can give up the search and move on to more useful pastimes.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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