The Answer May Elude You You are given two seven-letter words. Rearrange the letters in one of the words to get a synonym of the other. For example, if the clue is "gratify" and "eluding," the answer would be "indulge," which is an anagram of eluding and means gratify. The anagram can be the first or second word.
NPR logo

The Answer May Elude You

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

The Answer May Elude You

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


From NPR News this is Weekend Edition. I'm Liane Hansen. And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will.


HANSEN: You're on the phone. Where are you?

SHORTZ: I am in Toronto on a weeklong table tennis road trip.

HANSEN: Excellent, excellent. OK, Will, so we can let you go and play some table tennis, we'll do the puzzle. And to begin, as you know, you have to tell everybody what the challenge was last week.

SHORTZ: Yes, I said the words chic, C-H—I-C, and squeak, S-Q-U-E-A-K, rhyme with each other even though they have no letters in common. And I asked, can you think of three rhyming words containing 12 or more letters, but have no letters in common? And I said the words must be common, uncapitalized words. And each will have just one syllable.

HANSEN: Now, there's more than one answer?

SHORTZ: Yeah, I'll tell you my intended answer started with either screw or strew. The second word was pooh, P-O-O-H. And the third word could be either gnu, G-N-U, or flu, F-L-U. Any combination there works. And I also saw a nice answer - three, quay, which is Q-U-A-Y, and ski.

HANSEN: Well, I know it stumped a lot of people. We only received about 400 correct entries. And that entry that you mentioned - three, quay and ski - actually came from our randomly selected winner, Miranda Phillips in Ithaca, New York. So she's playing the puzzle with us today. Hi, Miranda.

Ms. MIRANDA PHILLIPS (Competition Winner): Hi.

HANSEN: It's interesting you came up with kind of this alternative answer in your entry. How long did it take you?

Ms. PHILLIPS: Well, I spent about an hour on my own. And my husband and I put our heads together, and he thought of ski and I thought of quay, and together we thought of three. So it was joint work, definitely.

HANSEN: All right, team effort, just like the on air puzzle. Are you ready?

Ms. PHILLIPS: I'm ready, yeah.

HANSEN: I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be. So, Will, meet Miranda. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Miranda and Liane, I'm going to give you two seven-letter words. Anagram one of them to get a synonym of the other. For example, if I said, gratify, G-R-A-T-I-F-Y, and eluding, E-L-U-D-I-N-G, you would say indulge because indulge is an anagram of eluding, and it means gratify. The anagram can be either the first or the second word. That's for you to figure out.

HANSEN: Miranda, are you good at anagrams?

Ms. PHILLIPS: I love anagrams. Not so speedy, but I'll give it my best.

HANSEN: All right. Well, we'll just take our time then. Will, go ahead.

SHORTZ: Number one is sincere, S-I-N-C-E-R-E, and ingenue, I-N-G-E-N-U-E.

Ms. PHILLIPS: OK, genuine.

SHORTS: Genuine, good job. Number two is witness, W-I-T-N-E-S-S.


SHORTZ: Verbose, V-E-R-B-O-S-E.

Ms. PHILLIPS: So, observe is witness.

SHORTZ: Nice job.


SHORTZ: Relieve, R-E-L-I-E-V-E.


SHORTZ: Sausage, S-A-U-S-A-G-E.

Ms. PHILLIPS: Well, a sausage is probably not a synonym.

SHORTZ: You're right, try the other way.


(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Rearrange the letters of...

Ms. PHILLIPS: There's not a lot of synonyms of sausage. Relieve is assuage.


SHORTZ: That's it, assuage, good. Try this one, phantom, P-H-A-N-T-O-M, respect, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Ms. PHILLIPS: Specter.


SHORTZ: Yes, specter, good. Ecstasy, E-C-S-T-A-S-Y.


SHORTZ: And toenail, as in the bottom of your foot, T-O-E-N-A-I-L.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: These are ridiculous.

Ms. PHILLIPS: OK, lovely. Well, toenail doesn't have a lot of...

SHORTZ: How many synonyms does toenail have?

HANSEN: Not too many, no.

Ms. PHILLIPS: Another word for ecstasy is wonderful feeling. I'm thinking elated or something. That doesn't work.

HANSEN: Oh, that's elation.

SHORTZ: As in the noun.

Ms. PHILLIPS: Oh, oh, all right.


SHORTZ: Good one.

HANSEN: That was one we got together.


(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Very good.

SHORTZ: All right, try this one. Donator, D-O-N-A-T-O-R, and twister, T-W-I-S-T-E-R.

Ms. PHILLIPS: OK. Well, a twister is a tornado.

SHORTZ: That's it, tornado.

HANSEN: That's it.

SHORTZ: And here's your last one. Eternal, E-T-E-R-N-A-L, and the second word is sealegs, like what a sailor has, S-E-A-L-E-G-S.

Ms. PHILLIPS: Oh, let's see. Eternal is forever. It's...

HANSEN: Does it begin with an A?


Ms. PHILLIPS: Ah, OK. Hold on. Don't tell me - ageless.

SHORTZ: Ageless, good job.

HANSEN: This was hard.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Miranda, you're really good at anagrams.

Ms. PHILLIPS: Well, thanks. It's a favorite pastime of my husband, Bobby(ph), and me. So this was a treat.

HANSEN: Well, Miranda, we just want to let you know, a few months ago we spoke to a very talented up-and-coming British singer, and we found out that she recently scored a few Grammy nominations. So, Miranda, for you, here's Adele, both singing her nominated song, "Chasing Pavements," and reading your puzzle prizes.

Ms. PHILLIPS: Excellent.

(Soundbite of song "Chasing Pavements")

ADELE: (Singing) Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements...

ADELE (Singer): For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a Weekend Edition lapel pin, the Eleventh Edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzlemaster - this is really complicated. OK, right. I've got to do this slower anyway. "The Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House, volume two, Will Shortz's "Little Black Book of Sudoku," and "Black and White Book of Crosswords" from St. Martin's Press, and one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks" of riddles and challenges from Chronicle Books. Congratulations.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: I love her accent. Miranda, what do you think?

Ms. PHILLIPS: That's excellent.

HANSEN: Before we say goodbye to you, Miranda. Tell us what member station you listen to.

Ms. PHILLIPS: WEOS 88.1, Geneva, Ithaca.

HANSEN: OK. Miranda Philips of Ithaca, New York, thanks for being on our team, for playing the puzzle today. Have happy holidays. You were fabulous.

Ms. PHILLIPS: Thanks. You too. Bye.

HANSEN: OK. Now, Will, a challenge for next week.

SHORTZ: Yes. This comes from listener Martin Eiger of Montville, New Jersey. Name a musical instrument, change the third letter to a different letter, and double the last letter. The result will name a famous singer, in two words. Who is it? So, again, a musical instrument. Change the third letter to a different letter. And double the last letter. The result will name a famous singer, in two words. What is the instrument, and who is the singer?

HANSEN: When you know the answer, go to our Web site, Click on the "Submit Your Answer" link. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3 p.m. Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call you if you're the winner, and you'll get to play a puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and Weekend Edition's puzzle master Will Shortz. And Will, Alison Stewart is going to be in this seat next week. I'm paying a pre-holiday visit to my son in Los Angeles since he can't come East for the holidays. So let me wish you a happy holiday. And as always, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane. Happy holidays.

Copyright © 2008 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.