Let's Take A Closer Look

Explaining complicated subject matter simply since 1986

You Bet Your Life was a 1950s TV quiz show with a studio audience. The real draw was the host, Groucho Marx, who turned interviews with contestants into laughs with his wisecracks.

Before the contestants were introduced, Groucho and announcer George Fenneman showed audiences the secret word, a common word used every day. If at any time a contestant said the secret word, the studio orchestra would play a fanfare and the duck would drop down with the word and a $100 prize. 

Here are three of the secret words from that show

Take a closer look and see if you can determine what they have in common. 


Hint: it has to do with how you look at the words.

What do the words happy, balloon and network have in common?

Each has another, unrelated word contained inside. Balloon* has the word all inside, happy includes the word app and network contains the unrelated word two.

The game of HIPS (Hide In Plain Sight)

Breaking up with Wordle is easier than you think. Any number can play and you don’t have to buy anything. Choose any sentence or short paragraph anywhere: a news story, magazine article, any passage from any source. Players each read the same words and the contest is to see who finds the most smaller words hidden in plain sight inside larger words. You can even play while watching TV commercials.

Three simple rules make it easy to play HIPS
  1. The only words that count are wholly and completely contained within another word, not at the start or the end. Take the word restaurant, for example. Rest and rant do not count because they are not completely inside. Aura counts because it’s entirely inside restaurant.
  2. Only interior words of three letters or more count.
  3. Your score for any one word is the number of letters in your interior word, multiplied by itself. Squaring a number makes longer hidden words exponentially more valuable. A 3-letter word is worth 9 and a 5-letter word is worth 25.
Let’s take a play break

For fun, see how many HIPS you notice hiding in plain sight in the following paragraph:

Saturday, June 18th, 1952: 

The weather was so bad in Cleveland that the president ended up in the hospital laboratory instead of at the restaurant where he was to make an appearance. The industry manager presented a research study that showed how cargo companies were concentrated on a single continent.

Here are the HIPS words I found:
  1. Cleveland = level = 5 squared = 25; eve = 3 squared = 9.
  2. President = reside = 6 squared = 36; side = 4 squared = 16.
  3. Hospital = spit = 4 squared = 16; pit = 3 squared = 9; pita = 4 squared = 16.
  4. Laboratory = rat = 3 squared = 9.
  5. Restaurant = aura = 4 squared = 16.
  6. Where = her = 3 squared = 9.
  7. Industry = dust = 4 squared = 16.
  8. Manager = nag = 3 squared = 9; age = 3 squared = 9.
  9. Presented = resent = 6 squared = 36; sent = 4 squared = 16.
  10. Research = sear = 4 squared = 16; ear = 3 squared = 9.
  11. Showed = how = 3 squared = 9; owe = 3 squared = 9.
  12. Companies = pan = 3 squared = 9.
  13. Concentrated = once = 4 squared = 16; cent = 4 squared = 16; rat = 3 squared = 9.
  14. Continent  = tin = 3 squared = 9; tine = 4 squared = 16.

(Did you check the date to find the interior HIPS word that delights the kids?)

Hide in plain sight

To hide in plain sight is to go unnoticed, despite being in full view. You’re not invisible, you’re inconspicuous. Hiding in plain sight may involve trickery (deception is the idea behind camouflage) but also takes advantage of the limitations of human perception. 

Edgar Allan Poe

Poe’s Purloined Letter was a forerunner of the modern detective story. In it, an indiscreet letter from the queen’s lover has been stolen from her boudoir and the thief is using it to blackmail her. Police are unable to find the letter after a thorough search of the blackmailer’s rooms. Auguste Dupin, an amateur detective, knew the police were operating on the assumption that the blackmailer would have concealed the valuable letter in some elaborate hiding place. Because they were unable to find it, he reasoned it must not be hidden away, but out in the open. And there it was, overlooked by all the others, mixed in with the letters that come with the daily mail.

Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn starred in the 1963 film Charade

Hepburn’s recently-deceased husband had stolen a fortune from four crooks who want it back. Hepburn knows nothing about it and has been left penniless, with nothing of value. No one can find the money – not Hepburn, Grant or the criminals because the money is hidden in plain sight. Not the actual money, mind you, but what the money had been converted into – rare stamps on a regular envelope.

Most people think analysis is always done with numbers, but it’s not so

Use your new-discovered HIPS investigative talents to take a closer look at the things you take for granted. Separate whatever you’re concentrating on into its constituent parts and determine its essential features. That’s analysis. Combine simple things into something more complex so you can see the patterns that are there. That’s synthesis.

  • When we analyze things, we are pulling them apart to see how they work.
  • When we synthesize things, we are creating something new.
  • When we do both, we developing a well-informed evaluation that includes several different viewpoints.

You can play Hide In Plain Sight backwards, too

The game acronyms to HIPS. How many words can you think of that contain the word hips? It fits very nicely inside shipshape, and whipsaw, don’t you think?


The Marx Brothers starred in 13 zany comedies in the 1930s. The American Film Institute rates five of their movies as among the top 100 comedy films of all time, including Duck Soup at #5 and A Night at the Opera at #12.

Everyone knows Harpo, Chico and Groucho, but not many know Gummo and Zeppo, the two younger brothers. Only a very few trivia nuts know their real names were Adolph, Leonard, Julius, Milton and Herbert.

Want to look at old things in new ways, see the commonplace in greater detail and hear complex subject matter explained in simple, conversational language?

Click here for the home page where you can scroll through the articles I’ve written every week for LetsTakeACloserLook.com since 2016, always showing there is more to most things than meets the eye. Scroll down to to the bottom of this page, enter your email address and get a new FREE article in your inbox every Monday. I don’t share your address with anyone, there are no ads on the site and I reply personally to everyone who sends me a note.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.