Sunday Puzzle: Great Words Think Alike Vandana Bajaj of Highland Park, N.J. plays the puzzle with NPR's Ayesha Rascoe and Weekend Edition puzzle master Will Shortz

Sunday Puzzle: Great Words Think Alike

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AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

It's time to play The Puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: Joining us today is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION. Good to talk to you, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Ayesha.

RASCOE: So, Will, could you please remind us of last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it was a tough-ish (ph) one. It came from Simeon Seigel of Brooklyn. I said, name a punctuation mark found on a computer keyboard. Somewhere inside this, insert a word for what this punctuation mark may be part of or what it may represent. And I said the result will be a 10-letter word associated with painting. What words are these? Well, the punctuation mark is a colon. That can represent a ratio. And if you stick ratio inside colon, you get coloration, which is a term in painting.

RASCOE: This week was a tough one. It gave some of our listeners a bit of a challenge. But coming out on top, though, is Vandana Bajaj of Highland Park, N.J. Congratulations, and welcome to the show.

VANDANA BAJAJ: Thank you so much, Ayesha.

RASCOE: So how long have you been playing The Puzzle, and how did you get this one?

BAJAJ: You know, I'm kind of a newbie. I've only been playing for a couple months, and this is only the second submission I've made. So...

RASCOE: Wow.

BAJAJ: ...I must have beginner's luck.

RASCOE: Oh, my goodness. And so you're also trying to get the - a lottery ticket or something today, right?

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: And there's listeners everywhere shaking their...

RASCOE: Yeah.

SHORTZ: ...Fists at their radio.

RASCOE: They've been doing it for years. Oh, my goodness. So how did you get this one? Because I could not have come up with this.

BAJAJ: So I basically was just staring at my computer keyboard for inspiration of punctuation marks. And then I decided to think backwards from the word painting and see what words come to mind that deal with painting. And I kept thinking, color, color. So then I thought, OK, let me focus on the colon and the comma, because those start with C-O. And I kind of worked with both of those. And with colon, I thought, OK, colons are used with analogies and with lists and with ratios. So then I got colorations.

RASCOE: Wow. Wow. That is great. All right, Vandana, are you ready to play The Puzzle?

BAJAJ: I'm ready.

RASCOE: All right. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Vandana and Ayesha. I'm going to read you some sentences. In each one, find two words that sound like two other words that are synonyms. For example, if I said, I can pare an apple, too, you would say pair and two because those words, in a sentence, sounds like P-A-I-R and T-W-O. Here's number one. I stubbed my toe running down the hall.

BAJAJ: Is it tow and haul?

SHORTZ: Tow and haul, yeah. T-O-W and H-A-U-L. Those are synonyms. Here's number two. How much do the shutters on the manor weigh? How much do the shutters on the manor weigh?

BAJAJ: So this would be manner and way?

SHORTZ: That's it, yeah. M-A-N-N-E-R and W-A-Y are synonyms. Here's your next one. Winnie Mandela voted nay.

BAJAJ: Whinny and neigh?

SHORTZ: Right. The sounds of a horse. Here's your next one. In Korea, a pail costs three won. In Korea, a pail costs three won.

BAJAJ: Pale and wan?

SHORTZ: Pale and wan, right. The spy was sent on a mission to the Oder River.

BAJAJ: Odor...

SHORTZ: Yes.

BAJAJ: ...And scent.

SHORTZ: Scent, is it. Yeah, S-C-E-N-T. And here's your last one. Dad went to the grocery to buy some chow.

BAJAJ: Ciao and...

SHORTZ: You say ciao, and what else would you say?

BAJAJ: Bye.

SHORTZ: You'd say bye, as in B-U-Y is B-Y-E.

BAJAJ: Wow.

SHORTZ: You got it. Yeah, yeah. I think I twisted your brain today.

RASCOE: Yeah, that was tricky.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: But how do you feel, Vandana?

BAJAJ: Wow. That was really hard. I think it's a lot easier to play at home when just listening to another contestant and listening to the radio and playing along (laughter).

RASCOE: But you did an awesome, awesome job. So 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, Vandana, what member station do you listen to?

BAJAJ: That would be WNYC.

RASCOE: That's Vandana Bajaj of Highland Park, N.J. Thank you for playing the puzzle.

BAJAJ: Thank you, Ayesha.

RASCOE: All right, Will, what's next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it was sent to me independently by two listeners - Steve Baggish and Neville Fogarty - so I'd like to credit them both. Think of two well-known companies with two-syllable names starting with J and D - that's D as in dog - whose names rhyme. And one of these companies was founded in the last 10 years. What companies are these? So again, two well-known companies with two-syllable names starting with J and D whose names rhyme. And one of these companies is from the last 10 years. What companies are these?

RASCOE: 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, November 17 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you. If you're the winner, we'll give you a call. And if you pick up the phone, you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION, Will Shortz. Thank you, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Ayesha.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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