Part 1

Pick out the word in each of the following that is different (Odd One Out)

Man, drone, bison, bull

The answer is - bison.

PS - I just want to know the reason or the logic used here to pick 'bison' the odd one out.


  1. Man : a human being of either sex; a person.
  2. drone : a continuous low humming sound; a continuous musical note of low pitch.
  3. bison : a humpbacked shaggy-haired wild ox native to North America and Europe.
  4. bull : an uncastrated male bovine animal; push or move powerfully or violently.
  • 3
    What a bizarre question. There are several ways you could analyze this set. I suspect they probably mean that 1, 2, and 4 are male (a drone is a male bee) whereas 3 describes both sexes. (Despite the definition you quoted, "man" usually means "male" nowadays.) But another breakdown would be that 2, 3, and 4 are all animals where as 1 is human. Or even 1, 3, and 4 are all mammals whereas 2 is an insect. Or bison is the only one not to be found outside North America and Europe. ;) Jun 20, 2017 at 4:11
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  • 2
    "Initiative" is the only noun. (The definitions aren't the most helpful, because they make it sound like 3 and 4 are also nouns. They're adjectives.) Jun 20, 2017 at 4:15
  • 3
    You should ask the second part as a new question. Jun 20, 2017 at 4:18
  • 1
    Please move Part 2 to a separate question. This helps us write answers that are shorter, easier to understand, and easier to find in searches.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jun 20, 2017 at 15:12

3 Answers 3


Some other senses of the words than the ones you found are most relevant. Here's what stands out most clearly to me (native AmE):

  1. man: an adult male human.

  2. drone: a male ant, bee, or wasp.

  3. bison: a buffalo.

  4. bull: a male cow.

So, bison stands out as the only one that doesn't mean the male of the species.

The word man also means a human of either sex. English has a number of words like this, where one sense of the word fully encompasses another sense. For example, humans are distinguished from animals, but also humans are a species of animal. A drink is a serving of any beverage, but a drink is also specifically an alcoholic beverage. When people say rectangle, they usually mean a shape different from a square, but in another sense, a square is a rectangle with all four sides equal. Somehow, these ambiguities seldom cause confusion.

One reason this question is pretty easy is because even though man has a generic sense that includes both sexes, it's a secondary sense of the word, in addition to being fairly rare today due to attempts to remove sexism from English. The primary sense has always been "adult male human".

By the way, usually the word for the male of a species also serves as the generic term for both sexes of that species: for example, lion, peacock, boar. The only exception I've ever heard of is cow: cow primarily means the adult female of that species, just as man primarily means the adult male of our species, but cow is also a generic term for any animal of that species regardless of its sex or age. This might be one reason why bull drew me into noticing the male senses of the other words. Also, bull is the name specifically for the male of many species; here is a big list.

A note about salience

By the way, this would be a terrible exam question, because other answers are also reasonable. For example, man is the only human; the others are animals (non-human animals, that is). Luke Sawczak's comment provides other reasonable interpretations, and Peter's answer gives two more. My explanation above tells how the maleness of three of the senses became most salient in the mind of one native speaker.

Awareness of what is most salient about words is crucial for communicating, since that's what guides your listener's attention to what you want them to see or think of. My main point here is that maleness is extremely salient in the words man and bull—the latter especially just after being primed by the word bison to think of animals. That tends to make the male sense of drone more salient, when normally it wouldn't be. This won't work the same way for all fluent speakers, but I'm sure it's very common. Many native speakers, especially if looking at this question casually or quickly, might not even notice that other answers are also just as reasonable.

  • 1
    Without context there can be no salience.
    – TimR
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:00

In your first question


may be the correct answer because it is the only two syllable word in the group.

Bison is also the only word that is the plural form.

In your second question


are all behavioral characteristics or adjectives


is not.

Should this be posted in puzzling.stackexchange.com ?

  • I think it's fine to ask it here as long as the OP is hoping for an answer aimed primarily at giving help with learning English.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jun 20, 2017 at 5:15
  • 2
    Are people downvoting this answer because they're thinking that "two syllables" is wrong? It distinguishes just as unambiguously as the explanation I and user184411 gave: indeed, all the other words have in common that they are one syllable.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jun 20, 2017 at 5:52
  • @BenK - I agree that it’s worth mentioning in the discussion, but most exam questions wouldn’t have that be the differentiation, so it’s unlikely to be the reason or the answer. (Not my downvote; just venturing a guess.)
    – J.R.
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:39
  • @J.R. OP has not actually given the context of the question e.g. whether it is from an exam.
    – Peter
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:52
  • 1
    Editted answer for all you nonsyllabic counters...
    – Peter
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:50

This has already been mentioned in a comment, and it is the correct answer. Another meaning of "drone" is a male bee.

"Bison" is a species; a bison can be male or female. The other words identifies males of different species.

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