Sunday Puzzle: All About "U"

Apr 19, 2020
Originally published on April 19, 2020 8:01 am

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.)

4. Think of a well-known seven-letter geographical name in which the first, third and fifth letters are all U's.

5. There is a common four-letter word with a silent U in the third position. What is it? (Hint: I've said the word a couple of times already!)

6. What common household item has a doubled U in its name — that is, two U's in a row?

7. Think of a 10-letter word starting with U that means "digging up." Drop the U, and the remaining nine letters will spell a two-word phrase that describes the moon in relation to the Earth.

Last week's challenge: The challenge was to create the shortest possible word ladder connecting LARGE to SMALL, changing one letter at a time, making a common, uncapitalized word each step of the way. Here's the tricky part: Plurals and verbs formed by adding -s are not allowed.

Challenge Answer: Large, sarge, serge, verge, verse, terse, tease, cease, chase, chasm, charm, chard, shard, share, stare, stale, stall, small (17 steps).

Winner: David Lillie of Buffalo, New York

This week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Greg Lewis, of Columbus, Ind. Name part of the human body in seven letters. The first four letters, in order, spell a familiar boy's name. The second through fifth letters, in order, also spell a familiar boy's name. What body part is it?

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 by Thursday, April 23, at 3 p.m. ET.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And it's time to play The Puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining us is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Hey, there, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. I asked you to make the shortest possible word ladder going from large to small, changing one letter at a time and making a common, uncapitalized word each step of the way. My answer involved 17 steps. Some solvers submitted solutions in 15 steps. And one of those went from large, sarge, serge, verge, verse, terse, tease, cease, chase, chose, whose, whole, whale, shale, shall and small - only 15 steps.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received only 100 correct responses. It was a tough one last week. And the winner is David Lillie of Buffalo, N.Y. Congratulations.

DAVID LILLIE: Well, thank you very much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what do you do?

LILLIE: I'm a urological physician - a urologist in Buffalo, N.Y.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for playing with us today. Are you ready to go?

LILLIE: Yeah. It's been a long time coming.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Have you been listening to The Puzzle for a long time?

LILLIE: I think since the initial days, so...

SHORTZ: Oh.

LILLIE: ...The postcard days.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Well, your moment has come. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, David. 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 you can answer. And here's your first one. The names of two state capitals end in the letter U. What are they?

LILLIE: State capitals end in U.

SHORTZ: And interestingly - I'll give you a big hint - interestingly, they are the two most recent state capitals.

LILLIE: Oh, Honolulu and Juneau.

SHORTZ: That's correct. Isn't that weird? Number two - the word you, Y-O-U, sounds like the letter U. And it contains the letter U. What two words sound like the letter U but don't contain that letter?

LILLIE: Well, ewe, E-W-E.

SHORTZ: Right.

LILLIE: And...

SHORTZ: Yeah. And the other one is a tree. You know that tree?

LILLIE: Oh, yew.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: Spelled how?

LILLIE: Yeah. Y-E-W?

SHORTZ: Yeah, Y-E-W - very good. All right. Here's your next one. There is a common four-letter word with a silent U in the third position. What is it? And here's a hint. This is a word I've said a couple of times already in this puzzle. Four-letter word - silent U in the third position.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It might even be in the sentence you just uttered.

SHORTZ: That's correct.

LILLIE: Blanking on that.

SHORTZ: Yeah. I'll say it once more. There is a common four-letter word with a silent U...

LILLIE: Four, four, four, four.

SHORTZ: It's four. There you go. Here's your next one. What common household item has a doubled U in its name? That is two U's in a row.

LILLIE: Household item - double U.

SHORTZ: Yeah.

LILLIE: Vacuum cleaner.

SHORTZ: Vacuum - good - and here's your last one. Think of a 10-letter word starting with you that means digging up. You drop the U. And the remaining nine letters will spell a two-word phrase that describes the moon in relation to the Earth. What word is it? Ten letters - starts with U - it means digging up, either literally or figuratively. And what if I told you the second letter is N.

LILLIE: Uncovering?

SHORTZ: Yeah. Yeah. What's the name of our planet?

LILLIE: Well, the Earth - unearthing.

SHORTZ: Unearthing. Yeah. And you drop the U. What do you have?

LILLIE: Near thing.

SHORTZ: Near thing - That describes our moon.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Very good - I think - I've got to tell you, Will. I think because you've had a lot of time on your hands, like we all had, you kind of cooked up...

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Some really hard one (laughter).

SHORTZ: I went crazy this week?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, I'm not calling you crazy. I'm just saying...

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...This was a hard puzzle.

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you feel, David?

LILLIE: Very good. That was great fun.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. You did a great job, I have to say. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And, David, which member station do you listen to?

LILLIE: My wife and I are supporters of WBFO, the station that spawned Terry Gross and Ira Flatow.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yay.

SHORTZ: Whoa.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's David Lillie of Buffalo, N.Y. Thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

LILLIE: My pleasure. Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What is next week's challenge? And at this point, I like - I hesitate to ask, really.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: It's not as bad as last week's. And it comes from listener Greg Lewis of Columbus, Ind. Name part of the human body in seven letters. The first four letters in order spell a familiar boy's name. And the second through fifth letters in order spell another familiar boy's name. What body part is it? So again, human body part - seven letters - the first four letters spell a boy's name. The second through fifth letters also spell a boy's name. What part of the body is it?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, April 23 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Include a phone number where we can reach you about that time. And 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 WEEKEND EDITION's very own puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Lulu.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.