Solution: Oh No, Not Again

Reading down the initial letters of the words above, you get THESE WORDS FORM FIVE NEW SETS. So, as suggested by the title ("Oh no, not again") and the dimensions of the puzzle (a five-by-five grid of five-word sets), the answer words are actually five new odd-man-out sets for you to solve! Like the original sets, they're arranged in columns.

Here they are:

Which leaves you with five words: ENCHANT, STALK, RESTAURANT, IMPROBABLE, and ESSAY.

At this point, given five words, surely you know what to do.

Most of the ideas in this puzzle are from the wonderful Unprecedented Discovery, written by Lance Nathan and Francis Heaney for the 2003 MIT Mystery Hunt. And I'm not the only one who thought Unprecedented Discovery was a puzzle concept worth stealing -- Chris Morse and Ann Jones liked it enough to make their own version in 2005 (Odd Man Out, also an excellent puzzle). I took some of their ideas, too.

Thanks also to Jay Lorch, Colin Anderson, David Bushong, and Ann Daniels for playtesting the puzzle, finding sets that didn't work, and coming up with ideas to fix them.

Finally, here are two sets that got cut from the final puzzle, but which you might enjoy. (The answers are right below.)

HEXADECIMAL, MONOLINGUAL, TELEVISION, and HOMOSEXUAL are all Greek/Latin hybrids: they each combine a Greek-derived prefix (hexa-, mono-, tele-, homo-) with a Latin-derived stem (decimal, lingual, vision, sexual). The odd one out is RHINOPLASTY, where both parts are Greek. (This is not quite as impossibly difficult as it sounds. "Television" is somewhat well-known for having this property, from Charles Scott's 1936 quote: "The word is half Greek and half Latin. No good will come of this device." "Hexadecimal" might also be familiar, from the widespread story (possibly true) that the word was coined at IBM when boring managers refused to use the logical Latin "sexadecimal". And "monolingual" is ironic.)

MOE, FUTURE, AIR FORCE, and HOLY GHOST all belong to sets of three (Moe/Larry/Curly, past/present/future, army/navy/air force, Father/Son/Holy Ghost). The odd one out is SPADES, which belongs to a set of four (hearts/spades/diamonds/clubs).

--Michael Constant (