Sunday Puzzle: Animal Anagrams Mitchell Szczepanczyk plays the puzzle with puzzlemaster Will Shortz and NPR's Ayesha Rascoe.

Sunday Puzzle: Animal Anagrams

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And it's time to play the Puzzle.


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, and happy Mother's Day.

RASCOE: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate that. So, Will, could you please remind us of last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Mark Isaak of Sunnyvale, Calif. I said, think of part of the human body whose name is a compound word, like fingertip or toenail. Add an N and rearrange the result to get another part of the body whose name is also a compound word. What body parts are these? And the answer is eardrum and underarm.

RASCOE: This week's challenge was tough. Out of 361 correct submissions, Mitchell Szczepanczyk of Chicago, Ill., is our Puzzle winner. Congratulations and welcome to the show.

MITCHELL SZCZEPANCZYK: Thank you, and thank you. Szczepanczyk, by the way, is how you pronounce it. You came very close. You get an A for effort.

RASCOE: Thank you. I appreciate that. So how long have you been playing the Puzzle?

SZCZEPANCZYK: I've been playing going back to about 2006.

RASCOE: So what do you do when you're not playing the Puzzle?

SZCZEPANCZYK: I'm actually a professional software engineer. I write a monthly newsletter. I'm active in playing trivia games. I like watching soccer. I actually just finished a paper on theoretical economics. So, yeah, I keep busy.

RASCOE: So are you ready to play the Puzzle, or do I even have to ask? You are ready to play the Puzzle.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Ayesha, I was born ready. Let's do this.

RASCOE: (Laughter) OK. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Mitchell and Ayesha, every answer today is an animal whose name contains an R. I'll give you an anagram of the name without the R. You tell me the animal. For example, if I said Abe, A-B-E plus R, you would say bear.


SHORTZ: Here's number one. Shoe, S-H-O-E, plus R.


SHORTZ: ...Is right. Tote, T-O-T-E, plus R.


SHORTZ: That's it. Hews, H-E-W-S.


SHORTZ: You got it. Pita, P-I-T-A.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Huh. Yeah, R - I want to say armpit, but there's no M there.

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

SZCZEPANCZYK: Tapir. Tapir. There we go.

SHORTZ: Tapir. You got it. Debag, D-E-B-A-G.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Bar - I want to say garbage, but that's wrong. Barged...

SHORTZ: It does start with B.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Starts with B - bear. No. B-A, B-R...

SHORTZ: Just start with B-A.


SHORTZ: Badger is it.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Badger. There we go.

SHORTZ: Try this one. Guaco, G-U-A-C-O, plus R.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Cougar. There we go.

SHORTZ: Cougar is it.


SHORTZ: Bilge, B-I-L-G-E, plus R.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Gliber (ph), regbil (ph)...

SHORTZ: So close. It does start with G.

SZCZEPANCZYK: OK. So I have part of my brain that's right.

SHORTZ: And it's a soft G, not a hard one.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Glih (ph), L...

SHORTZ: Some people keep this animal as a pet.


RASCOE: Oh (laughter).

SHORTZ: Gerbil was it.

SZCZEPANCZYK: That's actually not soft, but we'll argue about that later.

RASCOE: OK (laughter). You can't argue with the puzzlemaster.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Oh, yeah? I'll show you.

SHORTZ: People do it all the time.


SHORTZ: Here's your next one. Thames, T-H-A-M-E-S, as in the river of London, plus R.


SHORTZ: Hamster is it. Nuncio, N-U-N-C-I-O, plus R. And your hint here - it's an imaginary animal.

RASCOE: Oh. My daughters love them.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Oh, unicorn.



SHORTZ: Unicorn is it.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Thanks for the hint.

SHORTZ: Needier, N-E-E-D-I-E-R, plus R.



SZCZEPANCZYK: Reindeer. Reindeer.

SHORTZ: Reindeer is it. And here's your last one, tootsie, T-O-O-T-S-I-E, plus R.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Tah, tih, tuh, tosit (ph)...

SHORTZ: It's a very slow animal.

RASCOE: Oh. Oh, a tortoise. A tortoise.

SZCZEPANCZYK: Tortoise. Thank you. Thank you, Ayesha.

SHORTZ: A tortoise.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Good job.

RASCOE: Oh, my goodness. Oh, it was...

SZCZEPANCZYK: Good teamwork there.

RASCOE: No. And see, you did an awesome job, Mitchell. How do you feel?

SZCZEPANCZYK: I feel great. No, I live for this sort of stuff, so, yeah, I'm just like, come on, more.


RASCOE: Well, thank you. I'm sure a lot of people would like more Puzzle, but we'll have to stop it right here. But 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 And Mitchell, what member station do you listen to?

SZCZEPANCZYK: It's the radio station with Will Shortz's favorite callsign - WILL Radio, W-I-L-L AM 580 out of Urbana, Ill.

SHORTZ: Wow. I love those call letters.

RASCOE: Yes (laughter).

SZCZEPANCZYK: Yeah, I'm sure you would (laughter).

RASCOE: And that's Mitchell Szczepanczyk of Chicago, Ill. Thank you for playing the Puzzle.

SZCZEPANCZYK: I had a great time. Thank you.

RASCOE: Will, what is next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from Ed Pegg Jr., who runs the website Think of an animal in which the singular form of the female and the plural form of the male sound like synonyms. What animal is it? So again, an animal in which the singular form of the female and the plural form of the male sound like synonyms. What animal is it?

RASCOE: When you have the answer, go to our website,, and click on the submit your answer link. Remember, just one entry, please. Our deadline for entries this week is Thursday, May 18 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.

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