Imagine you want to say something like 'Men' are always inside 'Women'... and you want to add something like, character-wise or alphabetically speaking. How do you go about it? The problem with character-wise is, character is already associated with a person's character.

  • Anything but "men's letters are always inside women".
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 8:03

3 Answers 3


The idiomatic way of saying this is,

You can't spell women without men.

One example from popular culture that comes to mind is from Simpson Tide, the 197th episode of The Simpsons:

Marge: A dishonorable discharge. It's the best we could've hoped for!
Homer: You can't spell 'dishonorable' without 'honorable'!

Trying to shoehorn this into an adjective is reinventing the wheel, and getting a square wheel.

  • Sort of like, There is no "I" in "team".
    – J.R.
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 10:48
  • @J.R.: exactly; note how the counterpart is not only just as idiomatic, but also just as adjectiveless.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 11:18
  • @J.R. Unless you’re on the same team as Noël is on, of course, which risks Russell’s Paradox.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 12:51
  • Oops, sometimes I wonder whether there's a special formula for asking questions here. The full thing here is someone showed a picture of a boy peeping under the hood of a woman, and added. "Men will always be men, once they come out, they want to go back in". I had a little difficult time saying that men will always be in women, literally and realistically speaking. Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 13:13
  • 1
    In our life there's if / In our beliefs there's lie / In our business there's sin / In our bodies there's dieThis was my life, Megadeth Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 6:13

I think alphanumeric can be used, too.


If I was being formal I would say

'Men' are always inside 'Women' ... orthographically.

Less formally, I would say

'Men' are always inside 'Women' ... spelling-wise.

  • -1 Whether orthographically or spelling-wise, it would be is not are after 'Men.' See also: my comment @OP. And the formula doesn't work with initial uppercase :) What we are looking for here is an adjective not alternative ways of stating the same thing.
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 8:09
  • I agree. But I was answering the question about what should go after the specific given (if technically erroneous) text supplied by the questioner. Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 20:49
  • 1
    Also, the "are" works better to preserve the punning alternate meaning. Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 20:52

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