What3Words Literary Game/Contest

For those of you who enjoy tinkering with the location site What3words.com (W3W) as I do and enjoys solving puzzles, I have a challenge for you. I’m also providing you a chance to win $100.  This is just for fun. There are no strings, no ads, and I’m not promoting anything, although I hope What3Words gets adopted more widely in the United States.

Here’s the challenge: find a series of consecutive words in a work of literature such that every overlapping triplet in the sequence has a valid W3W location associated with that triplet. Post your finds in the comments. If anyone has found a valid sequence that’s longer than mine by New Year’s Day, 2022, the longest such sequence wins the $100. Here’s the longest I’ve found so far:

“…wrong, “that people should never marry until they loved each other better than brothers…”
(from The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper, chapter 28). 14 words

You can try your hand at this just for fun, and I hope you do, but if you are after the prize, here are some rules:

  1. The sequence must be from a piece of recognized literature such as a novel, poem, essay, etc. published before 1960 and verifiable from a public source such as gutenberg.org, Google Books, etc. You must cite the source.
  2. The triplets that overlap, e.g. wrong.that.people, that.people.should, etc. in my example, must all be valid locations, Other combinations from the sequence (e.g. people.never.loved) do not need to be valid. There are 12 valid overlapping triplets in my example.
  3. No duplicate or repeated triplets are allowed. I don’t want “never,never,never,never,…”
  4. No hyphenated words allowed unless they form one valid word without the hyphen, and then that’s a single word, not two. E.g. patch-work is the one word patchwork. Contractions that form single words don’t count. E.g. Shed (as in tool shed) is valid but not she’d.
  5. If I find a longer sequence than the one above, I’ll post it in the comments. You still have to beat that.
  6. Payment will be direct through PayPal. If you don’t have a PayPal account, find someone you trust who does to receive it for you. Alternatively, if you’re local (Silicon Valley more or less), I’ll treat us both to lunch, along with a plus one for you if desired, up to a total of $100. Your choice.
  7. In case of tie for longest, the first one to post in the comments wins, but a tie with me doesn’t count.


14 thoughts on “What3Words Literary Game/Contest

  1. Dave Knapp

    I found a 16 in Ulysses by James Joyce:

    “…transmitted, first with alarm, then with understanding, then with desire, finally with fatigue, with alternating symptoms…”

    transmitted.first.with => N 42 06.650 W 080 03.752
    first.with.alarm => N 29 34.931 W 098 29.839
    with.alarm.then => N 42 13.976 W 071 30.460
    alarm.then.with => N 51 39.669 W 000 28.651
    then.with.understanding => S 28 51.945 E 116 22.551
    with.understanding.then => S 23 17.341 E 120 46.381
    understanding.then.with => N 30 01.658 W 097 13.359
    then.with.desire => N 54 37.591 W 005 55.178
    with.desire.finally => S 33 03.537 W 071 36.872
    desire.finally.with => N 48 44.419 E 002 52.445
    finally.with.fatigue => S 31 36.531 E 148 56.705
    with.fatigue.with => N 81 42.994 W 088 45.017
    fatigue.with.alternating => S 08 35.457 W 044 09.973
    with.alternating.symptoms => S 54 07.308 E 150 33.031

  2. Dave Knapp

    OK, I beat myself. Dickens, of course. Bleak House:

    26 words!

    It’s a little dicey because of the parallel construction but I think it qualifies.

    “… apparel, they wanted linen rags, they wanted money, they wanted coals, they wanted soup, they wanted interest, they wanted autographs, they wanted flannel, they wanted whatever …”

    apparel.they.wanted => N 16 58.815 W 093 57.662
    they.wanted.linen => N 35 13.803 W 097 23.907
    wanted.linen.rags => N 61 21.610 W 164 02.802
    linen.rags.they => N 60 28.317 W 159 35.169
    rags.they.wanted => N 47 58.851 E 106 59.445
    they.wanted.money => N 40 52.722 W 072 58.332
    wanted.money.they => N 44 09.184 W 093 59.429
    money.they.wanted => S 33 47.417 E 151 03.326
    they.wanted.coals => S 06 56.170 W 045 54.315
    wanted.coals.they => N 53 35.261 E 117 44.017
    coals.they.wanted => S 16 10.513 W 058 07.071
    they.wanted.soup => N 51 13.305 W 000 26.269
    wanted.soup.they => S 33 35.945 E 151 16.570
    soup.they.wanted => N 41 41.872 W 088 03.207
    they.wanted.interest => N 23 13.507 E 113 08.117
    wanted.interest.they => N 51 15.339 E 037 46.860
    interest.they.wanted => N 41 34.703 E 002 12.497
    they.wanted.autographs => N 45 36.776 W 121 57.344
    wanted.autographs.they => N 39 28.596 W 088 31.703
    autographs.they.wanted => N 40 09.901 W 113 25.966
    they.wanted.flannel => N 39 54.794 E 124 05.418
    wanted.flannel.they => N 20 50.644 W 103 09.707
    flannel.they.wanted => N 44 17.056 E 125 02.851
    they.wanted.whatever => N 12 48.720 E 050 32.307

  3. Russ Post author

    It qualifies, but, yes, it’s marginally literary. I thought about adding another rule before publishing, one about no lists. I was afraid I’d get recipes, inventories, spreadsheets, etc., but I didn’t want to bog it down with too many rules. Ulysses and Dickens are both clearly literary, though, so I can’t complain.

  4. Mike Brumm

    The best I’ve been able to do so far is match Russ with 14 words from The History of the United States by Charles and Mary Beard: manufactures.common.forces.assailed.them.common.grievances.vexed.them.common.hopes.inspired.them.many

  5. Russ Post author

    Still admirable, Mike. I haven’t been able to find anything better than my first post. However, I’m disappointed that most of the longer ones have displayed that repetitive structure like yours and the Bleak House one or even the Ulysses one. I’ve found several like that over 15 words long, but one of the words wasn’t in the list of accepted words. I may not have found the longest one yet, but I think my original one still stands as the most “literary” one.

  6. Russ Post author

    I’ve upped my best find:
    could flash with such fire such stern energy that little body still shaking with indignation
    from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky 15 words

  7. Dave Knapp

    Well, I do have a more literary version at 15 words from Ulysses:
    cheek touched with flame they listened feeling that flow endearing flow over skin limbs human

  8. Dave Knapp

    I got a 15-word one from Siddhartha, but it involves repetition:
    drop every drop laden with hope every drop laden with doubt they rarely talked about

    It’s really tough to find one with no rhetorical device, for the simple reason that good writing employs such devices!

  9. Russ Post author

    Very true. It’s also difficult because of choices W3W has made for technical or business reasons. Numbers, even spelled out, aren’t allowed; most colors and certain common words like “more” and “were” are almost never valid in a W3W triplet, even though those words do exist in some. I have a list of valid W3W words, i.e. ones that have been contained in valid triplets, but some of them like those seem to be used very, very seldom. Most words with sexual connotations aren’t allowed, either.

    My list is only about 10,000 words although W3W uses 40,000 in English.

  10. Russ Post author

    Here’s a 21-word stretch from Moby Dick, but it violates rule 4 twice – shelf-like is hyphenated in the original and worlds is valid as a plural but not as a possessive. Or is it?

    shelf like table covered with cracked glass cases filled with dusty rarities gathered from this wide worlds remotest nooks projecting from

    I’m making a command decision, which I get to do as creator. The original rule does not say all words with apostrophes are disallowed, only contractions. World’s is one word, unlike she’d, so it is a valid word. I only needed to remove the punctuation, which is true for the entire sequence. Shelf-like is still disallowed, but that still leaves this as a 19-word valid entry.

  11. Mike Brumm

    I have still not done better than 14, though I would have found the Moby Dick 19 had I not been ignoring possessives. I did find a better 14 in Les Miserables though:


  12. Russ Post author

    Here’s another one, and this one doesn’t have any apostrophes:

    these same limestone hills galleries hung month after month anew with pictures ever fading into pictures ever fresh
    from The Piazza Tales by Herman Melville 18 words.

  13. Russ Post author

    It appears that W3W doesn’t include homonyms in its database of words. That’s why it has THEY but not THEIR. W3W addresses are often provided orally over the phone, radio, etc. It doesn’t work well if the speaker has to spell it out, or, worse, fails to spell it out and the recipient uses the homonym, e.g. WOULD instead of WOOD. I think it may avoid some words that are spelled differently by the Americans and British, but I just tested it and COLOR.COLOR.COLOR is accepted, but not with the -OUR. Or it may be possible to choose the language Brit. vs. Amer. English. This may be helpful in choosing the source of literature for this game.

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