Will Shortz

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is a little unusual. It's all about "U" ... that is, the letter U. See how many of these U-related questions can you answer.

1. The names of two state capitals end in the letter U. What are they?

2. The word "you" sounds like the letter U, and it contains the letter U. What two words sound like the letter U but don't contain the letter?

3. Think of a common seven-letter word in which the first, third and fifth letters are all U's. (Hint: I said it in the first sentence of this puzzle's instructions.)

On-air challenge: Today I've brought a word ladder with sort of an Easter egg theme. The object is to convert CHICK to HATCH, changing one letter at a time, making a new word each step of the way. I'll give you clues for the steps. You tell me the words.

Starting with CHICK, change one letter in it to make ...
1. The sound of a camera. Then change one letter in that to make ...
2. A timepiece [etc.]
3. Unit of a city street
4. Opposite of white
5. Devoid of writing or marks
6. Long, flat piece of lumber

Drop The A And The B

Apr 5, 2020

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. The first word starts with AB. Drop the AB and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue.

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you a word and an extra letter. Anagram everything into a new word ... in which the added letter is silent.

Example: MOW + B --> WOMB
1. GRIN + W
2. TOGS + H
3. FINE + K
4. TENS + C
5. HANS + G
6. BRIDE + S
7. NOMAD + L
8. DOTER + B
9. PEDLAR + O
10. SIMONE + T
11. RETINT + W
12. AIMING + E
13. NO SHAME + D
14. CHEAP MAN + G

On-air challenge: Every answer is a rhyming two-word phrase, in which each word has three syllables.

Ex. Beverage that stands out --> Notable Potable

1. How-to book that comes out once a year

2. Recollection of a university in Atlanta

3. Careful examination of a rebellion on a ship

4. Personal journal written with hot language

5. Yorkshire dog that's more jolly

6. Sweepstakes involving clayware

7. Devotion to kings and queens

8. Event sent by God involving a ball

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

Example: Understood without being stated --> Tacit

1. Room at the top of a house

2. Like an angle that's less than 90 degrees

3. Group of eight musicians

4. Desert plants with needles

5. Adorable person

6. City on the Erie Canal

7. Strategy

8. Something invisible a grade schooler doesn't want to get

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two sets of three letters. Put the same two letters in front of each trio to complete a compound word or familiar two-word phrase.

Ex. Ite Ale --> White Whale
1. Und Bin
2. Ass Own
3. Bby Rse
4. Ste Ter
5. Dar Nge
6. Ash OOD
7. Wer Int
8. Ell Ock
9. Tor Uth
10. Own Ead
11. Ain Ack
12. Ole Eat
13. And Ill
14. Tch Ker (two answers)

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a classic dessert in two or more words. I'll tell you the number of letters in the words and the first two letters of each word. You name the desserts.

Ex. [5,7] PE- CO- --> Peach cobbler

1. [3,5,8] IC- CR- SA-

2. [6,4,4] DE- FO- CA-

3. [5,8,3] LE- ME- PI-

4. [7,6,6] OA- RA- CO-

5. [3,5,6] HO- FU- SU-

6. [9,6] CH- MO-

7. [6,5] BA- SP-

8. [5,6] BA- AL-

9. [6,5] SA- TO-

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some words starting with the letter "L." For each one, give me another word starting with "L" that will complete a common two-word phrase.

Ex. Language --> Lab

Three-letter answer:

1. Lemon

Four-letter answers:

2. Laundry

3. Loose

4. Leading

5. Lady

6. Lava

7. La-la

Five-letter answers:

8. Last

9. Latin

Six-letter answers:

10. Love

11. Lounge

12. Loss

13. Lapis

14. Living

15. Little

On-air challenge: Every answer to this puzzle is the name of an Academy Award-winning Best Actor or Best Actress. Change one letter in each word from a two-word phrase to name the person.

Ex. Beryl Street --> Meryl Streep

1. Top Ranks

2. Jolly Hinter

3. Am Pacing

4. Mean Peon

5. Wary Copper

6. Clank Cable

7. Salty Yield

8. Kissy Spaces

9. Singer Rowers

10. Sane Woman

11. Grape Jelly

12. Maroon Brands

On-air challenge: Every answer to this puzzle is the name of an Academy Award-winning Best Actor or Best Actress. Change one letter in each word from a two-word phrase to name the person.

Ex. Beryl Street --> Meryl Streep

1. Top Ranks

2. Jolly Hinter

3. Am Pacing

4. Mean Peon

5. Wary Copper

6. Clank Cable

7. Salty Yield

8. Kissy Spaces

9. Singer Rowers

10. Sane Woman

11. Grape Jelly

12. Maroon Brands

On-air challenge: Every answer to this puzzle is the name of an Academy Award-winning Best Actor or Best Actress. Change one letter in each word from a two-word phrase to name the person.

Ex. Beryl Street --> Meryl Streep

1. Top Ranks

2. Jolly Hinter

3. Am Pacing

4. Mean Peon

5. Wary Copper

6. Clank Cable

7. Salty Yield

8. Kissy Spaces

9. Singer Rowers

10. Sane Woman

11. Grape Jelly

12. Maroon Brands

On-air challenge: Each sentence has two missing words. The first missing word has a double-D. Change that to a double-T and you'll get the second word to complete the sentence.

Example: Nosy people who _____ can really test a person's _____. --> MEDDLE, METTLE

1. The new milkmaid with her hands on the cow's _____ was a complete and _____ failure.

2. As the head foreman at the failing factory, I _____ to think what will happen if they _____ it.

3. Is that plum _____ that the dessert chef is _____ on the table?

Sunday Puzzle: Tepees

Jan 26, 2020

On-air challenge: Every answer is a word, name or phrase in which the only consonants are T and P, repeated as often as necessary.

Example: Slender tube in a lab --> PIPETTE

1. Something that Idaho is famous for producing

2. Small, as in women's dress sizes

3. Proceed very, very quietly

4. Baked entree usually with meat and vegetables

5. Artificial hairpiece to cover a bald spot

6. Marionette, for example

7. Calming drug, like heroin or morphine

8. Amount that is produced, as from a factory

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two four-letter words. Anagram each of them to get two new words that rhyme.

Example: Inch, Ring --> Chin, Grin

1. Lure, Polo

2. Opus, Polo

3. Knee, Neal

4. Dais, Dear

5. Busy, Sire

6. Race, Hire

7. Rage, Ripe

8. Dome, Dora

9. Reef, Leaf

10. Luge, Hose

11. Flue, Laud

On-air challenge: Every answer is a compound word in which the vowel sound in each half is a short "a" — as in "grassland" or "madcap."

1. Father's father

2. Item in a levee

3. Slang term for someone who talks, talks, talks

4. Symbol in a tweet

5. Sudden remembrance of something past

6. Carrying case with straps that's worn over the shoulders

7. Pancake

8. Game of 21

9. Low-growing weed that can quickly take over a lawn

10. Old-fashioned timer that you periodically turn over

On-air challenge: Every answer is the brand name of a food or beverage that you might buy at the grocery store.

1. Preserves — Consists of a word meaning "lollipops" around the letter M

2. Soup — Conceals the word OGRES in consecutive letters

3. Breakfast cereal — Is an anagram of WHITE SEA

4. Baking goods — Is an anagram of RUBY LIPS + L

5. Cookies — Spelled backward, is a two-word phrase meaning "betting everything"

6. Soft drink — Consists of four consecutive state postal abbreviations

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is a variation on last week's. It's more like a quiz. I'm going to give four words. Three of them have something in common. I'll tell you what that something in common is. You tell me which word is the odd one out.

1. Words that are both flowers and girls' names: Violet, Lily, Iris, Cowslip

2. Words that start the names of state capitals: Big, Rich, Mad, Tall

3. Adjectives that are the titles of well-known movies: Frozen, Notorious, Sweet, Unforgiven

On-air challenge: I'm going to give four words. Three of them have something in common. I'll tell you what that something in common is. You tell me which word is the odd one out.

1. Compound words that become new words when their sides are switched: Bankroll, Bookwork, Downturn, Overhang

2. Words that name countries if you change a letter: Child, Fiance, Mother, Spawn

3. Words containing "A-I" that become new words if the A and I are reversed: Dairy, Plaint, Strain, Trail

On-air challenge: Every answer is a word, name or phrase in which the only consonants are B and L, repeated as often as necessary. All the other letters are vowels.

Ex. Tell a secret --> BLAB

1. Holy book

2. Reason why you couldn't have committed the crime

3. Record company

4. "The Hobbit" hero ___ Baggins

5. Tower of ___

6. Talk rapidly and foolishly

7. Move up and down, as a doll's head

8. Air-filled sphere sometimes made by soap

9. Legally obligated

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some categories, and two things in each category. You name a third thing in the category that fits between my two alphabetically.

Ex. Playing cards — Jack/Queen --> King

1. Colors of the rainbow — Red/Yellow

2. Great Lakes — Michigan/Superior

3. Nobel Prize categories — Economics/Peace

4. Federal holidays — Independence Day/Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

5. South American countries — Guyana/Peru

6. Beatles #1 hits — Hello Goodbye/Hey Jude

On-air challenge: Every answer is a made-up two-word phrase in which the first word starts with the letter C, and the second word is the same as the first but without the C.

Ex. A painting of a golfer's vehicle --> CART ART

1. A Scottish boy wearing clothing

2. Pile that doesn't cost much

3. Security device for a timepiece

4. Where a group of witches bakes a cake

5. One who assesses the quality of a feature of the lunar surface

6. Black bird that is cowardly

7. Wifey's mate who's a little overweight

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word or name that ends in the letters -LLO.

Ex. Standard greeting --> HELLO

1. Dessert that jiggles

2. Winemaker Ernest or Julio

3. 1960s-'70s U.S. space program

4. Brand of scouring pad

5. Largest city in the Texas Panhandle

6. Abbott's partner in old comedy

7. Animal with a leathery shell much seen in Texas and the Southwest

8. Italian sculptor of the Renaissance; also one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

9. Kind of mushroom

On-air challenge: Here's a list of seven-letter words. For each one, change the first and last letters — but only the first and last letters — to make a new, uncapitalized seven-letter word. Both the first and last letters have to change.

Ex. TOURISM --> NOURISH

1. PARTOOK

2. TERSELY

3. GUNROOM

4. HELLISH

5. LORELEI

6. CARCASS

7. GORDIAN

8. LIGNITE

9. PARTING

Sunday Puzzle: Cocoa

Nov 4, 2019

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Cocoa." Every answer is a word or name in which an interior syllable is pronounced "co" — in any spelling.

Example: Phoenix, Arizona's county --> MARICOPA

1. City in Washington state that shares an airport with Seattle.

2. Device that helps you read secret writing.

3. Cause of gradual loss of eyesight.

4. Symbol of plenty, or an abundant supply of good things.

5. Territory that broke into two states in 1889.

6. Giant corporation in the metals industry.

On-air challenge: The three B's in classical music are Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But in this puzzle they're three words starting with B. Each set can be followed by a fourth word to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Example: Baseball Bathing Bottle --> CAP (baseball cap, bathing cap, bottle cap)

1. Bow Black Bolo

2. Bar Bell Bunny

3. Boom Ballot Bread

4. Brick Berlin Border

5. Building Bar Binary

6. Big Bank Booster

On-air challenge: Every answer today is something you see in a hotel room — always, or at least often. Name these things from their anagrams, minus one letter.

Example: BOXER – X --> ROBE

1. DEBT – T

2. MAPLE – E

3. OPALS – L

4. FEAST – T

5. ROBIN – B

6. ACHIER – E

7. LOWEST – S

8. NIBBLE – N

9. HOWLERS – L

10. MIDBRAIN – D

11. TEAMSTERS – E

12. LONGEVITIES – G

Sunday Puzzle: 5 To 7

Oct 7, 2019

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some five-letter words. For each one, add two letters at the end to create a common, uncapitalized seven-letter word that is unrelated in meaning to the first one.

Example: TROLL --> TROLLEY

1. BELIE

2. SEVER

3. TRICK

4. HATCH

5. CONDO

6. PRUDE

7. SCOUR

8. OPERA

9. PARAS

10. SCALP

11. MASSE

12. PHONE

13. SHMOO

14. CHIME

15. AGAIN

16. COLON

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

Example: Had a fancy meal --> DINED

1. Poet John who wrote "No man is an island"

2. The Hoosier State

3. Cul-de-sac (2 words)

4. Signaled at an auction

5. Any of the celebrated 1930s quintuplets

6. Movie "Crocodile ___"

7. Epic poem by Virgil

8. Brand of yogurt

9. Supplementary parts of books

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. The first word has an R somewhere within it. Change the R to two S's, and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue.

Example: Female horses / Roman Catholic services --> MARES, MASSES

1. Singer who starred in "Moonstruck" / Game on a 64-square board

2. Tiny opening in the skin / Group helping a sheriff

3. Kitchen surface that stools might be next to / Noblewoman

4. Cry on a golf course / Choreographer Bob

Pages