Which of the following words does not belong: advertisement, automobile, condominium,

Ask Marilyn® by Marilyn vos Savant’s column this week asked that question:

Which of the following words does not belong: advertisement, automobile, condominium, gymnasium, refrigerator, veterinarian?

Marilyn vos Savant:
The answer appears below.

Answer: Refrigerator. The others have short forms consisting of the fi rst few letters of each word. “Fridge” is the exception.

I have some issues with this. First off, I came up with two different answers before I even got to her answer making her use of the word “the” when it should be “an” incorrect.

The options I came up with were:

[spoiler]The answer could be either:
Advertisement: Because all of the other items can be tangible items where as advertisement isn’t necessarily tangible. (A bit weak)


Veteranarian: As this was the only answer that was a person and not a thing[/spoiler]
What do you think? Is this “Guiness Book of World Records Hall of Fame for Highest IQ” person a match for Cecil or is she falling short?

Tough call. I could go with “veterinarian is a person and all the others are things” as well.

But, refrigerator is the more correct answer as its short form is not only not a simple usage of the first few letters of the full-length word, but it uses a letter that’s not even in the full-length word.

Refridgerator. All the other words are items not found in my kitchen, Alex.

Hey, um…despite all your spoilerage, Marilyn’s answer still appears in a mouseover of the thread title. Need a couple more lines of blank space there. :slight_smile:

Look at the column again. You will see it was a reader submitted question. She didn’t come up with it.

Funny…I came up with “condominium” because it’s the only one on the list that didn’t have a single-syllable alternate. (I cheated thinking “automobile” could be turned into “car” – thinking outside the box, I am.)

This is the reason I dislike these kinds of questions. There are plenty of ways you can answer the question. Like, “automobile, because it’s the only one that mixes Greek and Latin roots.” The question doesn’t test how sharp you are, only whether you see the same thing that the question-writer sees. It’s like a demeaning game of riddley-riddley-ree.

How about: condominium - the only one without the letter “a”.

I was irritated with her answer because my grandmother always called her refrigerator a “re” (pronounced “ree.”) I have no idea how widespread this was, if at all, but still.

That was my answer, too.

Yes! I was right! Take that, Marilyn!

I grew up reading her column…she always struck me as egotistical and haughty.

People are bothered by Marilyn vos Savant spoilers?


Good thing I didn’t let anyone know what’s going to be in Dear Abby or Heloise tomorrow.

I thought veterinarian, 'cause it’s the only one that you, or something, can’t be in. Something appears in an ad, you can be in a condominium, automobile or gymnasium, and food goes in a refrigerator. You wouldn’t put anything/one in a veterinarian.

Well, not in a family newspaper, anyway. :eek:

I think they occasionally take food out of a refrigerator and put it in themselves.

Absolutely. My answer was condominium, because it was the only one I couldn’t accurately describe.

At first I thought it was automobile, because I only saw the three words listed in the title and figured, ‘advertisement’ contains ‘semen’ and ‘condominium’ contains ‘condom’, and ‘automobile’ contains no such related word within it.

Then you had to ruin it by adding those other three words. You made the game less fun.


I don’t think that Marilyn’s answer is that bad. While it’s true that you could pick out any one of these words and find a reason why that’s the odd one out, that doesn’t provide that much of an ‘aha’ moment. For example, finding that only one of the words doesn’t have the letter ‘a’ isn’t that significant in context of the list, since it doesn’t unite the other items in the list by anything more than the presence of one letter. It’s not a strong bond.

On the other hand, seeing that all of these words have a very common abbreviation, which isn’t the case with most English words, is a nice little leap of logic.

For example, if you had the problem:

Which one of these things is different from the others?
Baldwin, Enterprise, Fuji, Winesap, Riverbank, Empire

You could probably find letter patterns to make some of these the odd one out. But if you have the insight that most of them are apple species, while one is a grape, then you’ve got a much better answer.

The only issue ebb with yours is that it isn’t something that would be classed as common knowledge, or even that folk would care that much about, its not a slap to the forehead type example.

The common abbreviation one is something that just about everyone would understand, but your point is a very good one.

Yes, you’re right about that. It’s more of a Google puzzle than a good one.

I would have to say veterinarian because that’s the only one I haven;t been in, family newspaper or not.

I always like the Howard Huge cartoons more than that lady’s colorless column.