Sunday Puzzle: What's In A Name? NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro and Will Shortz, crossword editor for The New York Times and Weekend Edition Puzzlemaster, play this week's puzzle with Gordon Brown of Winston-Salem, N.C.
NPR logo

Sunday Puzzle: What's In A Name?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Sunday Puzzle: What's In A Name?

Sunday Puzzle: What's In A Name?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Today is National Punctuation Day. And you know where we always use multiple exclamation points - of course, it's The Puzzle.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining me as always is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Will, good morning.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yeah. It was one for the new school year. I said think of two antonyms, each in three letters. Set them side by side. And in between them, arrange the letters of - try to ace - in some order. And I said the result will name someone at school. Who is it? And the opposites are his and her. And in between, put those letters, you get history teacher.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received more than 1,500 responses. And our randomly selected winner is Gordon Brown of Winston-Salem, N.C. Congratulations.

GORDON BROWN: Thank you very much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How long have you been playing The Puzzle, sir, if I may ask?

BROWN: Well, I've been listening regularly for about 14 years, I think, and submitting answers for about the last 10. And so it's been a little while.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And do you have a question for Will?

BROWN: I don't.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Fair enough.

SHORTZ: That's perfectly fine.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's perfectly fine. Don't worry.

BROWN: I thought about asking him what he thought about the UVA football game yesterday. But, you know...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He's not a football fan. I can just jump in right there and tell you.

SHORTZ: Oh, well, I am a UVA fan. But I wasn't following the game. So I have no opinion on that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Well, there you go. I'm sorry. I didn't - I spoke for you, Will, and that was incorrect of me. I take it all back.

SHORTZ: As a UVA grad, yeah, that is one I'm interested in.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, there you go. It's just that we've talked about the Super Bowl before and both of us, you know, weren't as invested as we could have been. All right, are you ready to play The Puzzle, Gordon?

BROWN: Yes, ma'am.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, let's go.

SHORTZ: All right, Gordon, I'm going to give you some words of six or more letters. For each one, change one letter to get a common boy's name. For example, if I said vector - V-E-C-T-O-R - you could say Victor, changing the E to an I. You could've also said Hector, changing the V to an H. That one had two answers. Here's number one, charges - C-H-A-R-G-E-S.

BROWN: Charles.

SHORTZ: Charles is right. Number two is tennis - T-E-N-N-I-S.

BROWN: Dennis.

SHORTZ: Dennis is it. Cargos - C-A-R-G-O-S.

BROWN: Carlos.

SHORTZ: Carlos, nice. Spender - S-P-E-N-D-E-R.

BROWN: Drawing a blank on that one.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: If you think of a famous actor whose last name is Tracy.

BROWN: Oh, Spencer. Yeah.

SHORTZ: Spencer does it. Good. Everest, E-V-E-R-E-S-T.

BROWN: Everett.

SHORTZ: That's it. Wavier, W-A-V-I-E-R.

BROWN: Xavier.

SHORTZ: Xavier works, also Javier, either one. How about margin - M-A-R-G-I-N?

BROWN: Help again there.

SHORTZ: Change the G.

BROWN: Marlin.

SHORTZ: Marlin is good, also Martin and Marvin. That one had three answers. How about coward - C-O-W-A-R-D?

BROWN: Howard.

SHORTZ: Seville - S-E-V-I-L-L-E.

BROWN: Drawing a blank on that one again.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The first name of a very famous prime minister of England during - in advance of World War II.

SHORTZ: Yeah first name of Prime Minister Chamberlain.

BROWN: Neville, Neville.

SHORTZ: Neville is it. Good. Normal - N-O-R-M-A-L.

BROWN: Norman.

SHORTZ: That's it. Waiter - W-A-I-T-E-R.

BROWN: Walter.

SHORTZ: Walter, good. Sliver - S-L-I-V-E-R. That's a tricky one because you want to change the first letter. You want to change the S to a vowel.

BROWN: Olivea (ph) (laughter).

SHORTZ: Oliver.

BROWN: Oliver, Oliver, yeah.

SHORTZ: And one more - it's a tough one - Cordon - C-O-R-D-O-N.

BROWN: Gordon.

SHORTZ: Gordon, yeah. I just threw that one in at the last moment.

BROWN: There you go.


BROWN: After a couple of those difficult ones, you know?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you feel?

BROWN: Oh, it was fine. It was probably easier to play listening in but a lot of fun playing today. And I loved having the opportunity.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. For playing today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at And, Gordon, what member station do you listen to?

BROWN: WFDD FM, Wake Forest University.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Gordon Brown of Winston-Salem, N.C., thank you for playing The Puzzle.

BROWN: Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Will, what's next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. Think of a familiar six-letter boy's name starting with a vowel. Change the first letter to a consonant to get another familiar boy's name. And then change the first letter to another consonant to get another familiar boy's name. What names are these?

So again, familiar six-letter boy's name, starts with a vowel. Change the first letter to a consonant. You get another boy's name. And then change that first letter again to another consonant to get another familiar boy's name. What three names are these?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, September 28, at 3 p.m. ET. Include a phone number where we can reach you at 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 puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Lulu.


Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.