Riddle: What word of five letters has only one left when two letters are removed?




This riddle, posed by our Riddle App, is a bit misleading. Riddle Robot Eyezak has brilliantly used a massive misdirect by intentionally using mixed references in the riddle. First, let us talk about the question itself, and how there can be a misdirection in this riddle. Then we can explore a few answers that might make sense at first but do not stand up to all tests. Finally we will explain why STONE is the correct answer instead.


Riddles asked by Eyezak’s Riddle App very commonly use misdirection. This riddle is no difference. This question sets your mind up to think specifically about numbers and counting, switches to another thing that is related to numbers (but not actually numbers or counting), and then switches back to numbers and counting to keep you confused. How can this be? Read on!

First, the Riddle App starts out by saying “what word of five letters…” This mnemonic device intentionally sets your brain up to start thinking about counting. It specifically says “five” in a way that makes you envision the act of counting something. Your brain starts to envision five letters, and then frantically starts searching for every five letter word you know. You probably know a lot of them.

After that, it goes on to say “… has only one left …” This is the misdirect. Our Riddle Robot Eyezak sneakily throws in something that is not related to a number or counting. The subject of this segment of the question is actually the word “one” itself, not the number. The Riddle App intentionally uses this confusion. Notice that it does not qualify “one” with the unit “letter,” like it did with the word “five.” This lack of qualification, makes this word “one” ambiguous.

Because “one” is now ambiguous, your brain tries to fill in the missing information, using what little information it already has available. The only information your brain thinks it knows for certain, is that the word has five letters, which you have to specifically count. It is your brains natural assumption that since we started talking about counting, that this information continues using that theme. In reality though, that is a false assumption.

To further confuse the situation, our Riddle App continues to instill the idea that we are counting by following up with “… when two letters are removed?” We are now back to numbers and counting. We are required to count a number of letters (counting) that we removed from the original five letter word (counting). This extra followup information, solidifies our brain’s suspicion that we are talking about counting, which justifies internally in our brain, the assumption we made about the word “one.”

Now knowing that this is a misdirection, we can adjust. But prior to this understanding, the riddle is quite tricky. How can you have one letter left after removing two letters from a five letter word? It is impossible, but you might have a couple ideas. Let us explore a bit.


You may have internally made the connection that the riddle is trying to trick you, but may be willing to remove some of the words of the riddle to justify your answer. If this is the case, then the word “three” might be justifiable. Here is how.

The word “three” is itself a five letter word. Being a number also, you can perform the seemingly required mathematical operations upon this number to achieve the end goal. The only way you can justify this though is if you intentionally ignore some key words at the end of the riddle. Our Riddle App specifically says “… when two LETTERS are removed.” If you ignore the Riddle Apps word “letters,” you are left with only the mathematical operation “… when two are removed.”

Also ignoring the possible grammatical error posed by the Riddle App, you could assume that the actual question that Eyezak is asking here is “what five letter word has only one left when subtracting two.” If you jumped to this conclusion, then “three” would totally work as the answer. Unfortunately though, you would be skipping vital information from the riddle in order to justify it. For this reason, there is no way this could be the answer.


Knowing that the riddle is a misdirect, we can logically explain why “stone” is the correct answer. “Stone” is a five letter word, and we can confirm that by simply counting the letters that make up the word. We can also remove two letters from the word, which is the last condition of the riddle to which we must adhere.

Doing this second operation can take some time though. We can remove any two random letters from the word, and still satisfy the riddle’s condition. Our Riddle App is intentionally withholding information about which two letters to specifically remove, not even telling us if the letters are adjacent or not. Because of this, we have to construct a list of all possible 3 letter words formed after removing two random characters. See this list below:

  • sto – ne
  • stn – oe
  • ste – on
  • son – te
  • soe – tn
  • sne – to
  • toe – sn
  • ton – se
  • tne – so
  • one – st

Assuming that the order of the letters cannot change, this is a comprehensive list of three letter combinations you can have by removing two random letters. From this list, we can narrow it down to only english words, because that is the only language our Riddle App and Riddle Robot Eyezak currently speaks. This list is much shorter:

  • son
  • toe
  • ton
  • one

Now that we have the complete list of words that can be formed by removing two letters, we can clearly see that the word “one” stands out from the mix. Knowing that the riddle was misdirecting us and knowing that the Riddle App wants to make the middle part of the riddle the word “one” not the number, we can see that the answer we should submit to the Riddle App is clearly “stone,” or some other 5 letter word that would fit.

Our riddle app works in a way, that you would only have a limited pool of available letters to pull from, and you would have five blank letter spaces to fill. Because of this, stone is most likely the only five letter word that you can form to satisfy all the parts of the question; however, if this were a verbal riddle, not from Eyezak or the Riddle App, then there could be other answers.

More Possible Answers

Using the method we discovered above for the word stone, we can easily find a number of other words that meet all the criteria. Here is a short list of other words that might actually work:

  • alone
  • atone
  • boned
  • bones
  • clone
  • cones
  • goner
  • honey
  • jones
  • money
  • ozone
  • phone
  • toned
  • tones
  • zoned
  • zones

There are more for sure, but each of these words match the same criteria as the word “stone” and satisfy all parts of our Riddle App question. You can remove two random letters from each of them and wind up with the word “one.”


Our Riddle App asked a question about numbers that was really about letters. This image has letters scattered around.

There are a bunch of five letter words out the in English. At this moment right now, I bet you can name at least 20 different ones, and if you read above, you are over halfway there already. Fun fact, five letters is actually the average length of English words. Well technically it is 4.7 letters, but because you cannot have 0.7 letters, we round it to the next whole number.

This is an important fact though, and it is used in real world scenarios, outside of our Riddle App, to measure and analyze data. For instance, when you take a typing test, your typing speed is measured in “words per minute.” Little did you know though, when this test is administered, they are actually measuring that by taking the total number of letters you typed, including spaces, and dividing that number by five to give an estimated number of words.

When you are typing out a document in most modern software, there is usually an auto corrector available, or at least a spell checking mechanism that includes proper spelling suggestions. Both of these tasks run off of algorithms that exploit this number five. They look for misspellings within a distance of 5 letters, and try to make suggestions based on possible correct letters within that distance.

Maybe explore other uses of this information your own. If you love to learn, there is plenty of information out there waiting to be found, and waiting for you to explore. We encourage you to do so on your own!

One Last Thing:

If you have not done so already, be sure to visit our home page to either sign-up to be notified of our Riddle Robot App Launches, or to get a link to directly download our Riddle Game App from the Play Store or App Store. We know you like riddles, and we are ready to give them to you inside our Riddle Game, and help you solve them with our blog. After all, riddles are fun. We also like helping you see the answers, so you can beat Eyezak, the Riddle Robot, in the future!

We really appreciate your support, and keep reading our blog for more Riddle answers! Find Riddle Robot on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Our Riddle Game is now available on Google Play. You can follow the Google Play link below to go to the Play Store on your device. You can also find us on Google Play by searching for “conundrum” and scrolling down until you find our icon!

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