'VA' Is for Word Lovers In this week's puzzle, every answer is a familiar two-word phrase, where the first word starts with V and the second word starts with A. For example, given "subject of a tax in Britain" the answer would be "value added."
NPR logo

'VA' Is for Word Lovers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/89398974/89418312" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'VA' Is for Word Lovers

'VA' Is for Word Lovers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/89398974/89418312" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Lynn Neary sitting in for Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will, so good to talk with you again.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Lynn. Welcome back.

NEARY: Well, it's good to be on the show. And, of course, you know, I always get a little nervous around the puzzle because I'm not very good at them.

SHORTZ: I don't believe it.

NEARY: But I think they're fun to play anyway. So, remind us of the challenge that you left us with last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. It sounded a little more complicated than it actually was. I said think of an adjective starting with over, and what follows over is a word that has a homophone or a word that sounds the same but is spelled differently. And the puzzle was think of an adjective starting with over that is frequently used the homophone of the word that follows over. What is it?

NEARY: And the answer?

SHORTZ: Well, my intended answer was overthrown and a throne, T-H-R-O-N-E - can be overthrown. We also accepted overseen and S-C-E-N-E can be overseen, so either of those was good.

NEARY: Oh, great. Well, we had over 1,000 entries from people who tried to solve the puzzle. And our randomly-selected winner is Emily Gilbert. She's from Appleton, Wisconsin. She joins us now. Hi, Emily.

Ms. EMILY GILBERT (Caller): Hello.

NEARY: Good to have you.

Ms. GILBERT: Thank you.

NEARY: And what do you do there in Appleton?

Ms. GILBERT: I work part-time as a guide at a living history park.

NEARY: Oh, that sounds like fun. Is it?

Ms. GILBERT: Mm-hmm.

NEARY: I bet. Have you been playing the puzzle for a long time?

Ms. GILBERT: Oh yeah. I'm not sure exactly but over 10 years.

NEARY: Ten years. Okay. So you're finally one of the on-air contestants.


NEARY: That's great. Are you ready to play?

Ms. GILBERT: As ready as I'll ever be.

NEARY: All right. Well, I'm sure that you really want to meet Will Shortz. Will, meet Emily.

SHORTZ: All right, Emily and Lynn. Last Wednesday, I was at my alma mater, University of Virginia, where I spoke to about 400 students and played word games. And this is one of the puzzles I brought. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase with the initials V-A.

For example: if I gave you the clue: subject of a tax in Britain, you would say Value added. All right?

NEARY: Okay.

SHORTZ: Number one is the second in command in the Navy?

Ms. GILBERT: Vice Admiral.

SHORTZ: That's right. Number two is residue around Mauna Loa, for example.

Ms. GILBERT: Volcanic ash.

SHORTZ: Good. Law that ushered in Prohibition?

Ms. GILBERT: Something amendment.


Ms. GILBERT: No? All right.

SHORTZ: A short word meaning law in three letters.

Ms. GILBERT: Act. Something…

SHORTZ: Right. And what…yeah, starting with V.


SHORTZ: Well, it's possible you don't - do you know this, Lynn?

NEARY: I don't know it. I don't, no.

SHORTZ: It's the Volstead Act.

NEARY: Wow, I never heard of that.

SHORTZ: Okay. Try this one: painting, sculpture, photography, etc.

Ms. GILBERT: Visual arts.

SHORTZ: Good. Period in England known for primness and formality.

Ms. GILBERT: Victorian age.

SHORTZ: Mm-hmm. Kind of belt in astronomy.

Ms. GILBERT: Something asteroids?


NEARY: A kind of belt.

SHORTZ: Yeah, the blank belt. You just might not know it. It's the Van Allen belt. Okay. Try this one: eighteen in the United States.

Ms. GILBERT: Voting age.

SHORTZ: Mm-hmm. Effort that isn't successful. You do something in a blank to do something but it's not successful. It's a...

Ms. GILBERT: A vain attempt.

SHORTZ: That's it, good. Form that's filled out in order to travel to another country.

Ms. GILBERT: Visa application.

SHORTZ: Yes. That's correct. The last U.S. cabinet department created before Homeland Security. Department of...

Ms. GILBERT: Gosh, I don't know.

NEARY: Before Homeland Security.

SHORTZ: Yeah, it's for people who have served in the military.

NEARY: Oh, okay.

SHORTZ: Veterans…

Ms. GILBERT: Veterans…

SHORTZ: Yes, veterans - veterans affairs is the name of the department. How about military force that does not rely on the draft?

Ms. GILBERT: Volunteer army.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Contract or understanding that's not written down.

Ms. GILBERT: Verbal agreement.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Epic poem by an ancient Roman writer.

Ms. GILBERT: Virgil's Aeneid.

SHORTZ: Good. British owned airline between England and North America.

Ms. GILBERT: Something air certainly but…

SHORTZ: No, no. It has lots of roots between England and here.

NEARY: It's not Virgin Air?

SHORTZ: Virgin is correct. I guess people maybe people say Virgin Air but the real name of the airline is Virgin Atlantic.

NEARY: Ah, okay.

SHORTZ: And here's your last one: a person's sudden disappearance.

Ms. GILBERT: Vanishing act.

SHORTZ: Good job.

NEARY: Yeah, Emily. I think you did a fantastic time.

Ms. GILBERT: Thank you.

NEARY: All right. Now, as a special treat we've brought in NPR's own Danny Zwerdling to tell you what you're going to win this week.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: For playing our puzzle today you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin. Wow. No, but there's a lot better stuff. The 11th edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, and you're going to get the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers and The Puzzle Master Presents from Random House, Volume 2. Emily, there's more. You're going to get Will Shortz's Little Black Book of Sudoku, and the Black and White Book of Crosswords from St. Martin's Press, and you will get one of Will Shortz's Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books. Congratulations.

NEARY: Thank you. So, Emily, tell us what member station do you listen to?

Ms. GILBERT: WPME in Green Bay.

NEARY: All right. Well, that's great. And keep listening.

Ms. GILBERT: I will.

NEARY: Emily Gilbert from Appleton, Wisconsin, thanks again for playing the puzzle with us.

Ms. GILBERT: Thank you.

NEARY: And, Will, what's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Jeffrey Harris of Nashville, Tennessee. Think of a six-letter hyphenated word meaning eager. Change the fourth and sixth letters to get another hyphenated word meaning less than eager. What words are these? So, again, a six-letter hyphenated word meaning eager; change the fourth and sixth letters to get another hyphenated word meaning less than eager. What words are these?

NEARY: All right. You got your challenge now out there. And when you have the answer go to our Web site, npr.org/puzzle. Click on the Submit Your Answer Link. And only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday at 3:00 p.m. eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach at about that time, and we'll call if you're the winner. And you'll get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz.

Thanks a lot, Will. It was good talking with you.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Lynn.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org 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.