Will Shortz

On-air Challenge: Today's puzzle is called A++. I'm going to give you clues for two things. Say what they are. Then put the letter "A" at the start to make a word.

Example: Prohibition / Mafia chief --> ABANDON (a + ban + don)

1. Hydroelectric facility / Insect that scurries

2. Old horse / Male sheep

3. Hot dog holder / Waltz or minuet

4. Where a scientist works / Fall flower

5. Untruth / Country or land

6. Colorado ski resort / Skill

On-air Challenge: I'm going to read you some sentences. Each ends in "___ to ___." You fill the blanks with a pair of homophones.

Ex. The bicycle salesman had an innovative new ___ to ___. --> PEDAL to PEDDLE

On-air Challenge: Every answer today is a familiar phrase in the form "___ of the ___." I'll give you anagrams of the first and last words. You give me the phrases.

1. TASTE of the RAT
2. LAST of the HEART
3. LILTS of the THING
4. AMEN of the MAGE
5. STOOL of the TREAD
6. SHAPES of the MONO
7. HIPS of the RESTED
8. TABLET of the BUGLE
10. DEN of the NILE

On-air Challenge: Today's puzzle is all about "me." Specifically, every answer is a word or name in which the accented syllable "me," in any spelling, appears somewhere inside it.

Example: Serving to fix or correct things --> REMEDIAL

1. Person who tells jokes

2. Single-celled creature

3. Friend in Mexico

4. Minor criminal infraction

5. Part of Ukraine annexed by Russia in 2014

6. Country located between Turkey and Azerbaijan

7. Ancient Greek mathematician and inventor

On-air Challenge: Every answer today is a pair of phrases in the form of "___ of ___," where the phrases can end in two ways. I'll give you the two ways those phrases can end. You give me the starting word. Every starting word is five letters long.

Ex. Bread / Life --> SLICE (slice of bread, slice of life)
1. Way / First refusal
2. Mind / The Union
3. Purchase / The pudding
4. Wheat / The crop
5. Cards / Representatives
6. Paper / Cake
7. View / No return
8. May / All

On-air Challenge: Every answer today is a word or name that sounds like it starts with two spoken letters of the alphabet.

Example: Wanting what other people have --> ENVIOUS (N-V-ous)

On-air Challenge: Below are some clues. The answer to each one is one of the words in the clue with its vowel sound changed.

Example: What fish bite --> BAIT (the word "bite" with the long-I sound changed to a long-A)

1. Not day

2. It's made by moistening dirt

3. Jacket part that covers the head

4. Item that's sowed in a garden

5. Fail to hit a ball in fair territory

6. Painful illness you get in your joints

7. What kickboxers fight with

8. What might surround a castle

On-air Challenge: Today, I've brought a game of Categories based on the word FIRST. For each category I give, name something in it starting with each of the letters F-I-R-S-T. Any answer that works is OK, and you can give the answers in any order.

Example: If the category were "Girl's Names," you might say Flo, Iris, Rosa, Sarah and Teresa.

1. State capitals

2. Parts of the human body

3. Terms in mathematics

4. Appliances you plug in

On-air Challenge: Every year around this time I do a year-end "New Names in the News Quiz." Here's how it works. I'll name some people and things you probably never heard of until 2020, but who sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. You tell me who or what they are. This list was compiled with the help of Kathie Baker, who played a similar quiz in the past.

1. Amy Coney Barrett

2. Deborah Birx

3. Doug Emhoff

4. Li Wenliang

5. Sarah Fuller

6. Isaias

On-air Challenge: Every answer today is an eight-letter word that consists of a three-letter word inserted inside a five-letter word. I'll give you a clue to the three-letter word as well as the five-letter word itself. You tell me the eight-letter word.

Example: Wrigley's product + AREN'T --> ARGUMENT

1. Tennis court divider + MAGIC

2. Oil installation + IRATE

3. What a hot dog goes in + TRIAL

4. Everything + BROOM

5. Have dinner + ENTRY

6. Opposite of young + DRUMS

7. To employ + CAROL

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you some sentences about Christmas. For each one, change one letter in one of the words to reveal a state capital.

Example: I'm a lover of the whole Christmas season. --> DOVER (Delaware)

1. The kids made a lot of noise unwrapping their presents.

2. Did you hear Santa Claus landing on the roof?

3. Christmas is a season of traditional sacraments.

4. The little sock hanging by the fireplace is my baby brother's.

5. You'll have to pierce the packaging to get out the Christmas ornament.

NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro plays the puzzle with Phoebe Simmons of Boise, Idaho, and puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar phrase in the form "___ & ___," in which the first two letters of the first word plus the first two letters of the last word themselves spell a word. I'll give you that word as well as a definition of the phrase. You tell me the phrase.

Example: SODA — combination performance --> Song & dance

1. BOAR — Native American weapon

2. CAMO — cunning game that a feline and rodent might play

3. EVAN — old-fashioned phrase meaning "occasionally"

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you some sentences. Three consecutive words somewhere in each sentence are the first three words of a familiar proverb or saying. Tell me what it is.

Example: Put out a saucer of milk when the cat's hungry. --> When the cat's away the mice will play.

1. As meteorologists know, every cloud has water droplets.
2. Variety is the daily publication of show business.
3. The surgeon put a stitch in the gaping wound.
4. Through the mountains the road to the next town is very twisty.

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you three words starting with "F." You give me another word that could follow each of my three words, and in each case it has to form a compound word OR a familiar two-word phrase.

Example: Full, Flex, Father (four letters starting with T) --> TIME (full-time, flextime, Father Time)

1. Fly, Fifth, Ferris (5, W)

2. Fresh, Flood, Fire (5, W)

3. Fun, Full, Fraternity (5, H)

4. Flash, Focal, Freezing (5, P)

5. Fuel, Firing, Finish (4, L)

6. Feed, Flight, Flea (3, B)

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word or phrase in which the only consonants are F and R — repeated as often as necessary. All the other letters are vowels.

Example: Outbreak of public anger --> FUROR

1. Monk

2. Worker who puts shingles on a house

3. More just

4. Less likely to happen

5. Brother, in France

6. Cost of flying on a plane

7. Basketball official

8. A long way away (two words)

9. One who sells mink coats, e.g.

10. One who shoes horses

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is a tribute to Alex Trebek, the longtime host of "Jeopardy!," whom we lost last Sunday. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials A-T.

Example: 180-degree reversal --> ABOUT TURN

1. Part of an orchard

2. Something controlled by a tower at O'Hare or LAX

3. Clumsy

4. Appreciation for something that you get only through repeated exposure

5. Clock setting in Anchorage or Fairbanks

6. Something you can hike from Georgia to Maine

7. LSD experience

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some words. Add the letters Q-U and rearrange the result to get a new word. The Q-U can appear anywhere in the answer.

Example: ITALY + QU --> QUALITY




4. A ROBE + QU






10. CLEAR + QU

11. I RULE + QU

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a well-known U.S. city or town that has a two-word name. I'm going to give you rhymes for the respective parts. You name the places.

Example: Lodge Kitty, Kan. --> DODGE CITY

1. Short Girth, Texas

2. Wrong Peach, Calif.

3. Brittle Lock, Ark.

4. Rolling Scene, Ky.

5. Paint Ball, Minn.

6. Gun Rally, Idaho

7. Banned Storks, N.D.

8. Heavy Trace, Md.

9. Quaker Sites, Ohio

10. Mouth Trend, Ind.

11. Milks Dairy, Penn.

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some common five-letter words in Spanish. For each one, rearrange the letters to spell a common, uncapitalized word in English.
Example: CESTA (basket) --> CASTE
1. TODOS (all or every)
2. TRUCO (trick)
3. BANCO (bank)
4. ARROZ (rice)
5. CINCO (five)
6. JABON (soap)
7. TORRE (tower)
8. PECHO (chest)
9. HUESO (bone)
10. ODIAR (to hate)

On-air challenge: The theme of this puzzle is P, B & J. I'm going to give you three words starting with the letters P, B and J. You give me a fourth word that can follow each of mine to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Example: Parking, Back, Job --> LOT (parking lot, back lot, job lot)

Starting with three-letter answers:

1. Penalty, Boom, Juke

2. Power, Buzz, Jig

3. Present, Birth, Judgment

4. Pill, Bed, Jitter

Now four-letter answers:

5. Perp, Board, Jay

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word or phrase in which the only consonants are P and R — repeated as often as necessary. The other letters are all vowels.

Example: More mature, as fruit --> RIPER
1. What beats rock but loses to scissors in a children's game
2. Musician with a flute
3. Partner of salt
4. Fix, as an appliance
5. Brand of bottled water
6. Open grassland, as in Kansas and Nebraska
7. Like reasoning by theoretical deduction (2 words)
8. Come into view again

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you pairs of incomplete phrases. Put the same word in each blank to complete them. Every answer is a four-letter word.
Ex. ___ of wolves / ___ of cigarettes --> PACK
1. ___ of sale / ___ of rights
2. ___ of arms / ___ of paint
3. ___ of thought / ___ of scrimmage
4. ___ of fire / ___ of wax
5. ___ of thumb / ___ of law
6. ___ of mouth / ___ of God
7. ___ of hands / ___ of force
8. ___ of Africa / ___ of plenty
9. ___ of paper / ___ of the tongue

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence conceals the name of a state capital in consecutive letters. You name the capitals.

Example: Check the chart for details. --> HARTFORD
1. You can't rent only one trailer.
2. How does golf rank for television?
3. That's not too pleasant a feeling.
4. Dad prepared flapjacks once.
5. The numeral eight comes before nine.
6. We fly to Zurich Monday.
7. Are you and Eric on cordial terms?
8. I wanna polish off dinner.

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some six-letter words. For each one, change one of the consonants to a vowel to make another familiar six-letter word.

Example: DEFECT --> DEFEAT

On-air challenge: Every answer to this puzzle is a word or name that has the accented syllable "lee" (in any spelling) somewhere inside it.

Example: Expungement --> DELETION

1. City in Ohio sometimes called "holy"

2. Supreme Court justice Samuel

3. Pledge of ___

4. Opposite of an atheist

5. Island off the coast of California

6. Resident of California's largest city

7. One-named "Queen of Tejano Music"

8. Italian film director Federico

9. Leonardo da Vinci painting (two words)

On-air challenge: Here are words from categories. Each thing is next-to-last in its category alphabetically. You name the only other thing in the category that comes after mine alphabetically.

1. Two

2. Sleepy

3. Queens

4. Zambia

5. Swans a-swimming

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a made up two-word phrase in which you switch the first and third letters of the first word to get the second word.

Example: Trick that is certain to work --> Sure Ruse

1. Final bit of table seasoning

2. Dangerous dog along Rome's river

3. Dish of mashed-up food that costs one unit of Indian currency

4. Combination of fruits — one that's yellow and sour, the other that's large and has seeds

5. Metalworker with a torch who is more lascivious

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is titled "Low and Inside." Every answer is a word or name that has the syllable "low" somewhere inside it (not at the start or the end). The "low" syllable is always accented.

Example: Like the U.S. before 1776 >> COLONIAL

1. Greeting in Hawaii

2. House speaker Nancy

3. Tennis star Martina

4. Spanish city that hosted the 1992 Olympics

5. Powerful land in ancient Mesopotamia

6. Everyday sandwich meat

7. Sounding pleasant to the ear, as music

8. Informal, as speech

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a major foreign city that is not the capital of its country. I'll give you anagrams. You name the cities.

Example: EDSEL, England --> Leeds
1. ROCK, Ireland
2. AVENGE, Switzerland
3. GOALS, Nigeria
4. REDDENS, Germany
5. PLANES, Italy
6. DRAMAS, India
7. ONLY, France
8. NEW PART, Belgium
9. VALIANCE, Spain
10. APROPOS, Japan