Sunday Puzzle: Looking For Common Ground? Sometimes All It Takes Is 3 Letters Given two kinds of people or things, name something they both do — in three letters. For example, a false witness and a person in bed both lie.
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Looking For Common Ground? Sometimes All It Takes Is 3 Letters

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Looking For Common Ground? Sometimes All It Takes Is 3 Letters

Looking For Common Ground? Sometimes All It Takes Is 3 Letters

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer sitting in our studios in Washington, D.C., where we are coming off a record stretch of dreary days. More than two weeks of rain. Luckily, we have something to brighten our spirits. It is time for the puzzle.

(MUSIC)

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Joining me now is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Linda.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Remind us of what last week's challenge was.

WILL SHORTZ: Yes, it was a stealth Mother's Day puzzle from listener Peter Weisz of West Palm Beach, Fla. I said name something in 11 letters that's a common household item. I said you could rearrange the first six letters to form a synonym of a word spelled by the middle three letters.

What's the item and what are the words? Well, the item is a thermometer. The middle three letters are mom. And you could rearrange the first six letters to spell mother.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) Very cute. We got about 350 correct answers. Our randomly selected winner is Jeff Vorchheimer of Summit, N.J. Jeff, congratulations.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Thank you very much.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: So how'd you figure it out?

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: I got on my commuter train home to Summit. It took about an hour. And I literally wrote down every household item I could think of. And finally, I got up to medicine cabinet, thermometer. And I found the very clever puzzle contained inside.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) And so do I understand correctly that you want to use this chance to sneak in a little belated Mother's Day message?

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Absolutely. If I can.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Sure.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: I just wanted to give a shout-out to three great moms in my life - my wife, Karen, my mother, Lorraine, and my mother-in-law, Phyllis. Great ladies and totally devoted to their families.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Do you have a question for Will?

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: I was wondering how does the Internet change how you think about constructing a puzzle?

WILL SHORTZ: Are you talking about crossword or are you talking about an NPR puzzle?

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: I was talking about a crossword.

WILL SHORTZ: Gotcha. Doesn't affect my thinking at all 'cause I proceed on the basis that people are not using references. And if you decide to use them, that's fine. But, you know, the biggest change - The New York Times used to have a 900 number clue line where you could call for, you know, $1.50 a minute and get a couple of answers. Nowadays, that's just gone dead because you can Google everything for free.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) I did not - I don't think I knew that. So, Jeff, are you ready to play the puzzle?

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Very much so. And I would appreciate any help, Linda, you can give me.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) Will, let's do it.

WILL SHORTZ: All right, Jeff and Linda, I'm going to name two kinds of people or things. You name something they both do in three letters. For example, if I said a false witness and a person in bed, you would say lie. They both lie. Every answer is three letters. And here's number one. A marathoner and a woman's stocking.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: I would say run.

WILL SHORTZ: They both run. A pugilist and a worker at a shipping warehouse.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Well, for pugilist I was thinking jab, but that doesn't quite work.

WILL SHORTZ: Think more general than that. What does a pugilist do?

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: I guess - thank you very much. I would guess box.

WILL SHORTZ: They they both box. A hip-hop artist and a spirit at a seance.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Rap?

WILL SHORTZ: They both rap. A restaurant patron and a boat with too many people in it.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Hm, (unintelligible). I was thinking - not for three letters, I wasn't thinking anything. Linda, do you have any ideas?

LINDA WERTHEIMER: No, I can't help (laughter). I'm writing it down. I'm thinking. I'm not helping.

WILL SHORTZ: All right, for...

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Well, I guess eat wouldn't go. But anyway, go ahead.

WILL SHORTZ: And what do you do after you eat at the end of your meal?

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Oh, I see.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Oh, sorry, Linda. Go ahead.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: You tip.

WILL SHORTZ: You tip. That's right. And boat with too many people in it would tip. How about an overfilled balloon and a weasel?

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Oh, I think that one I can do. Pop.

WILL SHORTZ: They both pop.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: (Laughter).

WILL SHORTZ: The moon and an employee at a car wash.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Wax.

WILL SHORTZ: They both wax. And your last two, they are phonetic. They're two words sound the same but are spelled differently. And your first one of these is a seamstress and a farmer in the spring.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Sew and sow, I think.

WILL SHORTZ: That's it. And your last one, a plant that doesn't get enough sun and a long worker.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Die and dye.

WILL SHORTZ: They both die. Nice job.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Thank you.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Jeff, great job. And for playing our puzzle today, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. Jeff, what's your public radio station?

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: WNYC in New York City.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Jeff Vorchheimer of Summit, N.J. Thank you very much for playing the puzzle.

JEFF VORCHHEIMER: Thank you both. It's been an honor.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: So, Will, what is the challenge for next week?

WILL SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from Mike Hinterberg of Loveland, Colo. Name a creature in nine letters. The name contains a T, as in Thomas. Drop the T and the remaining letters can be rearranged to spell two related modes of transportation. What are they? So again, a creature in nine letters. The name contains a T. Drop the T and the remaining letters can be rearranged to spell two related modes of transportation. What are they?

LINDA WERTHEIMER: When you have the answer, you go to our website, npr.org/puzzle. Click on the submit your answer link. Just one entry per person please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, May 19, at 3 p.m. Eastern. Please include a telephone number where we can reach you at about that time.

And if you are 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 puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thank you very much, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Linda.

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