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Solutions for Act II Scene 1 - An Ordinary Puzzle

The answer is: nth After identifying a few of the less ambiguous terms in this puzzle, a clear trend should emerge: Each entry can be described with a phrase that includes an ordinal ("first", "second", "third", etc.). The title "An Ordinary Puzzle" subtly hints that this is the correct approach. The terms should be determined as follows: first person sixth-formers first aid one third fourth avenue second coming fifth column second derivative minor third first commandment second cousin third dimension third time fifth Doctor Beethoven's ninth second-hand first law (of thermodynamics) fifth position July fourth Charles the first second-in-command fourth wall plead the fifth Family First third wheel Seventh-Day Adventist attosecond The next step ought extract letters somehow, and should preferably use the fact we have an ordinal in each phrase. The trick here is to realise the most natural interpretation of each phrase with this in mind is that each ordinal is referencing the letters in the other words making up its phrase. For example, "first person" implies the letter P, while "sixth-formers" implies the letter R. In some cases letters could be counted over multiple words. Continuing in this way, the letters extracted per column give the words/phrases PRAENOMEN, COMMONALTY, and COLD FEET. Again we want to iterate the previous step on our new phrases, since these alone do not suggest a final answer. Indeed, each term is also a synonym for an "ordinal phrase": first name third estate second thoughts Indexing in again as before, we get the letters N, T, and H, spelling the (rare) word NTH, a term encompassing any and all ordinals.