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'Poked' And 'Tummy' Become 'Poker' And 'Rummy'

Oct 21, 2012
Originally published on October 22, 2012 8:03 am

On-air challenge: You will be given two words. Change one letter in each of them to make two new words that name things that are in the same category. (Hint: In each pair, the letter that you change to — that is, the new letter — is the same in each pair.) For example, given the words "poked" and "tummy," the answer would be "poker" and "rummy."

Last week's challenge: What specific and very unusual property do these five words have in common: school, half, cupboard, Wednesday and friend? Identify the property and name a sixth word that shares the property. Any word having this property will be counted correct.

Answer: Each word contains a silent third letter.

Winner: Steve Worona of Montpelier, Vt.

Next week's challenge from Pierre Berloquin: What letter comes next in this series: W, L, C, N, I, T?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Quick - do some brain stretches because it is time for the puzzle.


MARTIN: And joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: OK. So, you got us thinking about five words for last week's challenge. Remind us, what were those words?

SHORTZ: Yes. Those five words were school, half, cupboard, Wednesday and friend. And the challenge was to identify what specific and unusual property these five words have in common. And I asked you to, if you get the answer, to name a sixth word that shares the property. Well, the property is, of course, it each has a silent letter. It's more than that - it's always the third letter that's silent. And in addition, if you remove that third letter, what's left will always, in each case, is pronounced the same. And other possible answers were salmon, debt, juice, subtle and aghast.

MARTIN: OK. So, about 500 of our listeners figured that out, and our randomly selected winner this week is Steve Worona of Montpelier, Vermont. Congratulations, Steve.

STEVE WORONA: Well, thank you.

MARTIN: OK. So, what was the sixth word with the silent third letter you came up with?

WORONA: I said to myself silent letters - what word has a lot of silent letters? And hopefully one that I came up with would have a silent letter in the third spot and enough did.

MARTIN: OK. And what was that sixth word?

WORONA: Enough.

MARTIN: Enough, yeah. Will, what's the verdict? Do you accept that?

SHORTZ: Enough is perfect.

MARTIN: OK. Good for you, Steve.

WORONA: Thanks.

MARTIN: And what do you do in Montpelier?

WORONA: Well, I am retired.

MARTIN: Well, so you do a whole lot of whatever you want, I suppose.

WORONA: That's right. I retired from a position actually working down in the Beltway, where you guys are.

MARTIN: Well, good for you. And I suppose you have more time now for puzzles.

WORONA: Absolutely.

MARTIN: Great. Well, let's put your skills to the test. Steve, you ready to play?


MARTIN: All right. Will, let's do it.

SHORTZ: All right, Steve and Rachel. Hope you have pencil and paper handy. I'm going to give you two words - change one letter in each of them to make two new words that name things that are in the same category. And here's a hint: in each pair, the letter that you change to - that is the new letter or the replacement letter - is the same in each pair. For example, if I said: poked P-O-K-E-D and tummy T-U-M-M-Y, you would say poker and rummy, changing both the D in poked and the T in tummy to Rs.

WORONA: Got it.


MARTIN: OK. That makes one of us. All right. Let's try.

SHORTZ: Number one is venue V-E-N-U-E and mark M-A-R-K.

WORONA: Venue and...

SHORTZ: Mark M-A-R-K. Start with venue. That's the more distinctive word. What letter can you change to spell something else?

WORONA: Venus and Mars.

SHORTZ: Venus and Mars, excellent.

MARTIN: Well done.

SHORTZ: Swelter S-W-E-L-T-E-R and pints P-I-N-T-S.

WORONA: How about pines?

SHORTZ: It's not pines, no. Start with swelter. That's the harder word to change a letter in.

WORONA: Smelter.

SHORTZ: Not smelter.

WORONA: Smeller.

SHORTZ: Not that.

MARTIN: Oh, when it's cold outside we put these on?


WORONA: Sweater and pants.

SHORTZ: Sweater and pants, good. Your next one is grange G-R-A-N-G-E and mangy M-A-N-G-Y.

WORONA: You said grange?

SHORTZ: Yeah, G-R-A-N-G-E. What letter do you think you'd change there?

MARTIN: Is it the first one?


WORONA: Orange and mango.

MARTIN: Yeah, there you go.

SHORTZ: Orange and mango, good. How about fiance F-I-A-N-C-E and Nigel N-I-G-E-L?

WORONA: France and Niger.

SHORTZ: That's right.

MARTIN: Well, that was easy for you.

SHORTZ: Hornet H-O-R-N-E-T and Jell-O J-E-L-L-O.

MARTIN: You sound Bill Cosby there.


SHORTZ: Just what I was thinking. Hornet and Jell-O.

WORONA: Cornet and cello.

SHORTZ: Cornet and cello, good. Excellent. That's was fast. And your last one: starlet S-T-A-R-L-E-T and pure P-U-R-E.

WORONA: Starlet as in a movie starlet?

SHORTZ: That's it.

WORONA: It's not scarlet.

SHORTZ: Yes, it is.

WORONA: You said cure C-U-R-E.

SHORTZ: I said pure P-U-R-E.

WORONA: Oh, P-U-R-E. Puce.

SHORTZ: Puce, is it.

MARTIN: Puce, of course. Steve, that was great. Well done.

WORONA: Thanks.


MARTIN: For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read all about it at And, Steve, before we let you go, what's your public radio station?

WORONA: Vermont Public Radio, WVPR.

MARTIN: Great. Steve Worona of Montpelier, Vermont. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle this week, Steve.

WORONA: Thank you both.

MARTIN: OK, Will. What's our challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes. Well, last Wednesday I was visited by an old friend from France, a puzzle-maker by the name of Pierre Berloquin. And over dinner, I mentioned that he had created one of my all-time favorite brain teasers. It appeared in Games magazine about 30 years ago. And the funny thing is Pierre not only did not remember the puzzle he invented, he couldn't solve it.


SHORTZ: So I thought it would make a great challenge this week. So here it is: What letter comes next in this series: W, L, C, N, I, T? And the next letter is for you to discover.

So again, what letter comes next in this series: W, L, C, N, I, T? What comes next?

MARTIN: When you have the answer, go to our website, Click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. The deadline for entries is Thursday, October 25th at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're 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.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.