Take Synonyms For A Spin (Or Pirouette)

Jan 26, 2014
Originally published on January 29, 2014 1:28 pm

On-air challenge: For each word given, name a synonym in which the first two letters are the same as the second and third letters of the given word. For example, spin and pirouette.

Last week's challenge: The challenge came from Ed Pegg Jr., who runs the website MathPuzzle.com. Name a famous person whose first and last names together contain four doubled letters — all four of these being different letters of the alphabet. Who is it? For example, Buddy Holly's name has two doubled letters: D and L.

Answer: Tennessee Williams

Winner: Jim Ryan of Redondo Beach, Calif.

Next week's challenge: What word, containing two consecutive S's, becomes its own synonym if you drop those S's?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And, as Mr. Synopsis said, if you're feeling sad and lonely, there is a service I can render. Sharpen your pencil and get ready, puzzling can be so sweet and tender.


MARTIN: Joining me now is Will Shortz. He's, of course, the puzzle editor of the New York Times and Weekend Edition's puzzle-master. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: So, refresh our memories. What was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yeah, it came from listener Ed Pegg, Jr., who runs the website MathPuzzle.com. I asked you to name a famous person whose first and last names together contain four doubled letters - all four of these being different letters of the alphabet. And I gave the example Buddy Holly, which has double D and double L. And I asked you to think of a famous person with four doubled letters. Well, there's only one really common one I'd say - and the answer is Tennessee Williams, which has two N's, two S's, two E's and two L's. And I should point out that we were looking for double letters, not just repeated letters through the name.

MARTIN: OK. So, we got around 600 submissions this week, and our randomly selected winner is Jim Ryan of Redondo Beach, California. He joins us on the line now. Hey, Jim. Congratulations.

JIM RYAN: Thank you.

MARTIN: Was this a quick answer for you or did it take you a while?

RYAN: No, this one took me a while and I had to stew on it. I was working with multiple letters and kind of assuming if I were going to find the right name at least two of the pairs of letters would be in the last name, so that had me going in the wrong direction. But I kept on it and had it in the back of my mind. And then a day and a half later, Monday evening, I was doing some things unrelated on my computer and I had a reason to do a search on Tennessee. When I saw Tennessee on my computer screen, I just saw three double letters and then Williams came pretty quickly after that.

MARTIN: And what do you do in Redondo Beach, Jim?

RYAN: I'm a self-employed financial consultant. I do analysis of businesses and financial instruments and things like that.

MARTIN: Thus the analytic approach to puzzling.

RYAN: Well, that is. And earlier in my life I was a mechanical engineer, so, I think the...

MARTIN: Doubling down on the analysis.

RYAN: ...analytics is in my life.


MARTIN: OK. Well, let's see if this comes in handy as we play the puzzle today. You ready to do this, Jim?

RYAN: As ready as I'm going to be.

MARTIN: All right, Will. What's up?

SHORTZ: All right, Jim and Rachel. I'm going to give you some words. For each one, give me a synonym in which the first two letters of your word are the second and third letters of mine. For example, if I said spin, you would say pirouette, because pirouette means spin; pirouette starts with P-I, and those are the second and third letters of spin.

MARTIN: OK. You got it, Jim?

RYAN: Yeah. And I think aren't the examples supposed to be easier than the real problem?


SHORTZ: Not always. I got you scared. All right. You're going to do fine on this. Number one is though T-H-O-U-G-H.

RYAN: T-H-O...that would be however.

SHORTZ: However is good. Number two is delete.

RYAN: Eliminate.

SHORTZ: That's it. Preacher.

RYAN: Reverend.

SHORTZ: Good. Sort S-O-R-T.

RYAN: Organize.

SHORTZ: OK. I was going for order, but I think either one works. Squelch.

RYAN: Quiet.

SHORTZ: Squelch, quiet. All right. I'll give you that. I was going for quash, but yours works too. How about statuesque.

RYAN: Tall.

SHORTZ: That's it. Minor M-I-N-O-R.

RYAN: Minor M-I-N...does infant work for that?


MARTIN: Jim's clever.

RYAN: That's a real minor.

MARTIN: Jim is very clever.

SHORTZ: I wasn't thinking age-wise. How about an adjective.

MARTIN: As an adjective.

RYAN: Inconsequential.

SHORTZ: OK. I might for that. I was going for insignificant actually. How about place P-L-A-C-E.

RYAN: Lay.

SHORTZ: Lay, good, simple. Cancel.

RYAN: Cancel - annul.

SHORTZ: That's it. Stingy.

RYAN: Tight.

SHORTZ: Good. Afraid.

RYAN: Afraid - frightened.

SHORTZ: That's it. Habitation.

RYAN: Habitation - A-B...how about abode?

SHORTZ: Abode works. Stomach.

RYAN: T-O...

SHORTZ: Think of it as a...

RYAN: (unintelligible) or something.

SHORTZ: ...think of it as a verb.

RYAN: Oh, oh, oh, you're thinking of a verb again, aren't you? To stomach something would be to tolerate it.

SHORTZ: Tolerate is right. Here's a hyphenated answer: perfect.

RYAN: Without flaw- error-free?

SHORTZ: Error-free is my answer. And here's your last one, also a hyphenated word, and the word is little.

RYAN: That's going to be itsy-bitsy, I think.

SHORTZ: Itsy-bitsy is it.

MARTIN: Itsy-bitsy.

SHORTZ: Nice job.

MARTIN: For playing the puzzle today, Jim, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, Jim, what is your public radio station?


MARTIN: KPCC in Pasadena, California. Jim Ryan, of Redondo Beach, California, thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Jim.

RYAN: Thanks. It's been a lot of fun.

MARTIN: Great to have you.

OK, Will. What's up for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, an easy challenge, I think. What word, containing two consecutive S's, becomes its own synonym if you drop those S's? So again: What word, containing two consecutive S's, becomes its own synonym if you drop those S's. What word is it?

MARTIN: When you've got the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 30th at 3 P.M. Eastern Time.

Don't forget a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. Because if you're the winner we'll give you a call and you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times -and he is - WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.

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