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Hentai is Brilliant, Says Countdown Quiz Expert

posted on by Andrew Osmond
Word wins round in quiz show on Monday

The Guardian newspaper reports that the word "hentai" made an unexpected appearance on the TV quiz show Countdown, and was described as "brilliant" by the programme's etymologist Susie Dent. However, she may have been praising the word for its combination of letters, rather than enthusing over the genre it denotes.

In the Countdown episode shown on Channel 4 on Monday July 8, the contestants had to make a word out of the nine letters "TINEYATPH." Contestant Marwan Riach suggested "hentai," whereas his less worldly opponent could only come up with "patty."

Dent defined the word, perhaps inadequately, as “a subgenre of a Japanese anime or manga.” Presumably any reference to tentacles would be verboten in a daytime quiz show.

The world is indeed listed in the Oxford Dictionary, which offers its own definition: “a subgenre of the Japanese genres of manga and anime, characterised by overtly sexualised characters and sexually explicit images and plots.”

Unfortunately, Marwan Riach lost the game of Countdown. On the bright side, his supremely awkward expression when he presents the word to an audience of millions (and his equally awkward one when Dent praises his "brilliant" answer) have already made him a Twitter star. No doubt Manga Entertainment has already contacted him to check if he's an Overfiend man, or whether he leans more toward Wicked City.

The Guardian helpfully notes that in 2010, contestants were asked to make a word out of the letters UDFCKE. Tragically, politeness prevailed on that occasion.


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