List of culture and geography puzzle topics

This is a list of culture- and geography-related topics that have been used in puzzles in puzzle hunts.

Culture-related topics include all facets of world culture and non-media aspects of pop culture, including the more traditional cultural topics like history, linguistics, and religion, as well as more modern ones like fashion, food and drink, and puzzle-specific culture.

Geography-related topics include both physical geography (including natural and manmade landmarks) and political geography (borders, cities, countries, etc.). It also includes topics about travel and transportation

Culture[edit | edit source]

Culinary Culture (Food and Drink)[edit | edit source]

  • Alcohol (wp · list)
    • Beer (wp · list)
      • Untappd (app) (wp · list) - An app that allows users to track pubs and bars they visit, the beers they drink, and earn badges along the way.
    • Cocktails (wp · list) - Also known as mixed drinks, these are any combinations of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients with specific ratios between them. A common set of these used in hunts is the set of cocktails picked by the International Bartenders Association (IBA) for use in the World Cocktail Competition (WCC). Cocktails can also have non-alcoholic versions, called mocktails.
  • Beverages (general) (wp · list) - For the purposes of this list, these include any kind of bottled or canned beverages, as most puzzles that don't involve a particular type of beverage focus more on the brands themselves rather than the beverage contents.
  • Cereal (wp · list)
  • Cheese (wp · list)
  • Cookies (wp · list)
  • Cooking
    • Bring Us Food (wp · list) - Sometimes, on-site puzzles require solvers to bring a particular type of food to the hunt-runners. This may be pre-purchased or may require cooking on-the-spot, and some puzzles' whole premises just involve cooking specific dishes. This topic covers all of these cases.
    • Recipes (wp · list)

Fruit (wp · list)

  • Meat (wp · list)
  • Pasta (wp · list)
  • Restaurants and chains (wp · list)
    • Starbucks (wp · list) - The coffee chain known for having unique cup size names and a wide variety of customization of drinks. The size names (Short, Tall, Grande, Venti, and Trenta) sometimes show up in elements of puzzles, but the brand is more commonly used for drink identification, as particular menu items (such as their Unicorn Frappuccino) are instantly recognizable.
  • Sauces and condiments (wp · list)
    • Mother sauces (wp · list) - A series of five sauces on which many other sauces are based. These are Béchamel (white), Velouté (clear), Espagnole (brown), Tomato (red), and Hollandaise (yellow). Hollandaise is sometimes left out, or replaced with mayonnaise, but most puzzles that utilize this topic use those five.
  • Spices (wp · list)
  • Tea (wp · list)
Singer Lauryn Hill with an afro hairstyle

Fashion and Trends[edit | edit source]

  • Designers (wp · list)
  • Hairstyles (wp · list) - Trends relating to how people wear and style their hair, often associated with particular eras (such as afros in the 1960s and frosted tips in the 1990s)
  • Mr. Blackwell's Worst Dressed List (wp · list) - Richard Blackwell was a notable fashion critic, designer, and homosexual, known for his annual 'Worst Dressed' lists that he published from 1960 until his death in 2008. The list often included clever jabs, puns, or poetry bemoaning poor fashion choices made by celebrities throughout the year.
  • Types of clothing (wp · list)

History[edit | edit source]

  • Battles (wp · list)
  • Calendars (wp · list) - Both in the sense of calendars of particular years being used as part of puzzles as well as different types of calendars used in different cultures and throughout history.
  • Epithets (wp · list) - Particularly those used by monarchs and other rulers as 'nicknames', such as the 'Lionheart' in 'Richard the Lionheart', or 'Unready' in 'Æthelred the Unready'.
  • Genealogy (wp · list) - The study of family histories. In many cases, this means dealing with family trees of real people, but can also extend to topics such as animal genealogy, fictional character genealogy, and mathematician genealogy (dealing with students and professors rather than parents and children).
  • Famous Figures
    • Captains
    • Duos
    • Women
  • Feast days (Catholic) (wp · list)
  • Knights (British) (wp · list) - Rather than true, historical knights, this refers mostly to people who have become honorary knights or dames by way of being knighted by the British crown. These include artists, actors, and musicians, as well as other European royalty and certain military and diplomatic figures.
  • Monarchs (wp · list)
  • US History (wp · list)
    • The US Constitution (wp · list) - A document created in 1787 that outlines the rights and freedoms of citizens of the United States. The document has been amended 27 times, the contents of which are a common subject of puzzles. Many of these amendments are well known (such as the second amendment giving the right to bear arms) but more recent ones are less well-known (such as 1992's 27th amendment preventing members of Congress from giving themselves pay raises).
      Bill Clinton (codenamed Eagle) receiving a medal from Barack Obama (codenamed Renegade)
    • The Declaration of Independence (wp · list) - A document written in 1776, declaring the United States' independence fromstolen by Nicolas Cage in the movie National Treasure, and
    • House of Representatives (wp · list)
    • Presidents (wp · list)
    • Secret Service code names (wp · list) - Codenames given to particular individuals (particularly Presidents, Vice Presidents, their families, and presidential candidates) by the US Secret Service. Traditionally, people and their families are given code names that start with the same letter (such as the Obama family being Renegade, Renaissance, Radiance, Rosebud, and Raindance).
    • The US Senate (wp · list)

Linguistics[edit | edit source]

English[edit | edit source]

  • Grammar (wp · list)
  • Phonetics (wp · list)
    • International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) (wp · list) - A system used to display how words are pronounced, using a series of symbols representing core sounds. For example, the word 'puzzle' would be spelled as 'pʌzəl'.
    • NATO phonetic alphabet (wp · list) - A system used both nautically and terrestrially to communicate letters without risk of mixing up similar-sounding or rhyming letters (like m and n or any letter ending in an 'ee' sound). This is done by assigning a word to each letter that starts with said letter, such as 'Mike' for M and 'November' for N. Especially useful for describing license plates, serial numbers, and call-signs.
    • Stress Patterns (wp · list)
    • Voiced and Unvoiced Sounds (wp · list)
  • Phrase Structures
    A Euler Diagram showing the difference between various linguistic concepts
    • Snowclones (wp · list) - Phrases and cliches that are repeated with particular words swapped out, with the name coming from the (incorrect) statement that 'Eskimos have a N words for snow'. Common snowclones include 'X is the new Y' and 'The X, the Y, and the Z' (such as 'Orange is the new Black' and 'The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly', respectively).
    • X and Y (web · list)
    • X in the Y
    • X of the Y
    • X X Y
  • Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs) (wp · list) - As the name suggests, these are acronyms that contain exactly three letters. They're extremely common, and due to the limited number of letters that can be used, there's a significant amount of overlap, leading to both confusion (sometimes) and puzzle opportunities (other times). One well-known example is RPG standing for both Role-Playing Game and Rocket-Propelled Grenade
  • Typography (wp · list)
  • Wordplay
    • Antonyms (wp · list)
    • Heteronyms (wp · list) - Words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently (and have different meanings)
    • Homophones (wp · list)
    • Idioms (wp · list)
    • Palindromes (wp · list) - Words and phrases that have identical spelling both backwards and forwards, such as RACECAR or DR. AWKWARD. Palindromes can also be word-based, with sentences that contain the same words when read backwards and forwards (Such as 'Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?'), number-based, or phonetic.
    • Pangrams (wp · list)
    • Rhyming (wp · list)
    • Synonyms (wp · list)

Other Languages[edit | edit source]

Misc. Linguistic Topics[edit | edit source]

  • Conlangs (wp · list)
    • Chaotic (web · list) - A conlang invented by Kevin Wald for the puzzle The Realm of Unspeakable Chaos in the 2001 MIT Mystery Hunt and subsequently referenced and developed in multiple Mystery Hunt puzzles.
    • Esperanto (wp · list) - An international auxiliary language intended to be used as an universal second language. It's the most widely spoken conlang with about 100-200 thousand speakers worldwide.
    • Klingon (wp · list) - A conlang used by the highly militaristic Star Trek species of the same name.
    • Pig Latin (wp · list) - Less of a conlang, Pig Latin is simply English with words transformed in a phonetically predictable way, namely moving the first sound to the end if it's a consonant, then adding the "ay" sound to the end. Often clued in puzzles with pigs, which leads to a natural combination with the Pigpen cipher as well.
    • Puflantu (wp · list) - A conlang invented for the Galactic Puzzle Hunt 2019 (drastically expanding upon an earlier 2018 GPH puzzle) and subsequently referenced and developed in multiple puzzles.
    • Solresol (wp · list) - A conlang with the interesting property that all words are formed with a sequence of musical solfege notes.
    • Ubbi dubbi (wp · list)
  • Diacritics (wp · list)
  • Etymology (wp · list)
    • Loanwords (wp · list) - Words that originate within a particular language, but are 'loaned' to other languages whole-cloth. Examples in English include 'garage' (French), 'guru' (Hindi), and 'sushi' (Japanese).
  • Mnemonics (wp · list)
  • Nonsense words (wp · list)
  • Portmanteaus (wp · list)
  • Puns (wp · list)
  • Quotations (wp · list)
  • Shorthand (wp · list)
  • Slang
  • Syllables (wp · list)
  • Toponyms (wp · list)
  • Translation (wp · list)
    • False cognates (wp · list) - Two words (either within a language or in two different languages) that appear to have the same origin (due to similar spelling and meaning) but do not. A classic example is how the word 'island' comes from Old English while the word 'isle' comes from Latin, despite the expectation that they be connected somehow.
    • False friends (wp · list) - Similar to False Cognates, these are words in two different languages that share the same spelling but have different meanings, such as 'pain' meaning an ache in English, but meaning 'bread' in French.
    • Transliteration (wp · list)

Puzzle Culture[edit | edit source]

General Topics[edit | edit source]

  • ACME's Have You Tried... document (web · list)
  • Escape From Zyzzlvaria (web · list)
  • Is It Hunt Yet? (web · list)
  • Puzzle Construction (web · list)

MIT-Specific Topics[edit | edit source]

  • Culture
  • The Alchemist on MIT campus, in front of Student Center Plaza
  • Events (wp · list)
    • GetFit Program (web · list)
    • MIT Charm School
  • Locations
    • The Infinite Corridor (wp · list)
    • MIT Buildings (wp · list)
    • MIT Public Art (web · list)
      • The Alchemist (wp · list) - A hollow statue found between buildings 7 and W20 on MIT campus, depicting a humanoid figure composed of various numbers, letters, and symbols.

Religion[edit | edit source]

  • Astrology (wp · list)
    • Chinese zodiac (wp · list) - The Chinese zodiac is a set of 12 animals. Years, in a 12-year cycle, are associated with these animals.
    • Western zodiac (wp · list) - The Western zodiac is a set of 12 constellations (out of 88), that all lie on the ecliptic. (There is a thirteenth constellation that also intersects the ecliptic, Ophiuchus.) The year is divided up into 12 chunks (each roughly one month in time), with people born during those times having certain zodiac signs.
  • The Bible (wp · list)
  • Mythology (wp · list)
  • Popes (wp · list)

Geography[edit | edit source]

Manmade Geography[edit | edit source]

  • Area codes (wp · list)
  • Bridges (wp · list)
  • Cities
  • Country codes (wp · list)
  • Country Subdivisions
  • Currencies (wp · list)
  • Flags (wp · list)
    The result of gerrymandering on Travis County, Texas (in red). Congressional districts shown in 2002 and 2004.
  • Geocaching (wp · list)
  • Google Street View (wp · list)
  • Highways (wp · list)
  • Longitude/latitude coordinates (wp · list)
  • Maps (wp · list)
  • Political geography
  • Time zones (wp · list)
  • What3words (wp · list)
  • Zip codes (wp · list)

Natural Geography[edit | edit source]

An unofficial map of the MBTA subway system in Massachusetts in 2013.

Travel[edit | edit source]