Yesterday I posed the brainteaser: “**What is the smallest number (in English) that uses all five vowels exactly once each?**”

I’ve heard some great responses to this, so let’s talk about them.

I believe the basic answer for US English is “five thousand”. That is, if the question only permits a natural US English expression for a non-negative integer then “five thousand” is the lowest you can go.

The complementary answer in British English is “two hundred and six”. In British English we typically put “and” between the tens and higher magnitude digits when pronouncing a number, y’see.

I think we could also allow an improvement on the US English answer: “a hundred sixty two”. What do you think?

Now for some more interesting approaches, bending the rules a bit. I like the following (in order of closeness to zero):

“about five” (≈5)

“log six squared” (=1.556…, or 0.6055… depending on where you put the brackets)

“minus one half” (=-0.5)

“ten sixty-thousandths” (=0.00016666…)

And, perhaps the winner of it all:

“nothing squared” (0²=0)

**The next entry will return to Japanese!**

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