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Judges' Table: 'Sherbert' vs. 'Sherbet'

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“Sherbet” or “sherbert”? They’re the same thing, right?

Not always.

First, here’s the clue again: “The main difference between these two desserts that end in the same three letters is that one contains dairy and the other does not.”

Austin’s response – “What is sorbet and sherbert?” – was deemed incorrect. So for all the “sherbert” sayers of the world who might be pulling their hair out right now, here’s why.

Jeopardy! clues are carefully crafted in a way that – hopefully – leads a contestant to one possible response, a response that must satisfy all the aspects of the category heading as well as all the information included in the clue. Being able to do that with such precision and brevity is what makes our writers so good, and occasionally ... aggravating. In this case, Austin neglected to observe the part that required the two responses to “end in the same three letters.”

So in any other universe, the distinction between sherbet and sherbert may seem about as critical as that of “tomato” and “tomahto,” but on Jeopardy! it can mean the difference between a thumbs-up or thumbs-down from the Judges’ Table.