Will Shortz

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is called "Middle C" — just like last week, but a completely different puzzle. I'll give you two words. You give me a word starting with C that can follow my first word and precede the second one, in each case to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Ex. White / Bone --> COLLAR (white collar, collarbone)

1. Smart / Cutter

2. Cottage / Steak

3. Climate / Machine

4. Kitty / Stone

5. Boston / Sense

6. Shag / Bagger

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Middle C" — as in a midpoint on a piano. I'll give you a four-letter word. You rearrange the letters and put a C in the middle to make a common five-letter word.

Example: OVAL --> VOCAL

1. SOUL

2. FATE

3. LUNE

4. BONA

5. RUIN

6. ROAM

7. LOAF

8. [two answers:] RULE

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a well-known movie. I'll give you rhymes for the respective words in the movies' titles. You name the movies.

Ex. Palace Wires Shrub --> Dallas Buyers Club
1. Cleverly Fills Shop
2. Diving This Crazy
3. Best Wide Quarry
4. Terrace Jewelers May Cough
5. Might Glenn Plant Stump

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two words. Drop one letter in each of them to leave two new words that are in the same category of things.

Example: DRILL STAGE --> dill & sage (both herbs)
1. MARKS VENUES
2. BRED VIOLENT
3. SCORN BERET
4. PREACH BANDANA
5. BLUSH CHARTER
6. CINDER LARGER

On-air challenge: Every year around this time I do a year-end "New Names in the News Quiz." Here's how it works. I'll name some people and things you probably never heard of until 2021, but who sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. You tell me who or what they are. This list was compiled with the help of Kathie Baker, who played a similar quiz in the past.

1. Amanda Gorman

2. Officer Eugene Goodman

3. Glenn Youngkin

4. Frances Haugen

5. Emma Raducanu

6. Ever Given (not a person)

On-air challenge: Today I've brought a game of Categories based on the word CANDY. For each category I give, name something in it starting with each of the letters C-A-N-D-Y. For example, if the category were "Six-Letter Girl's Names," you might say Connie, Arlene, Nadine, Denise, and Yvonne. Any answer that works is OK, and you can give the answers in any order.

Note: In some cases there may be other answers. Any answer that works will be counted as correct.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the two-word name of a well-known tourist site or attraction somewhere in the world. I'll give you rhymes for the two words. You name the sites.

Ex. Tight blouse --> WHITE HOUSE
1. Rifle power
2. Heavy mountain
3. Pig pen
4. Phony highland
5. Climbs there
6. Greater snake
7. Mix bags
8. Planned banyan
9. Honks grew
10. Failing mall
11. Shock stress
12. Turban sheet
13. Dead bear

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some five-letter words. Change the first letter to make a new word that doesn't rhyme with the original.

Ex. Catch --> WATCH
1. Horse
2. Beard
3. Hound
4. Mouth
5. Donor
6. Blown
[Two different answers ...]
7. Lover
[Three different answers ...]
8. Rough

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word, name, or phrase in which the only consonants are B and R, repeated as often as necessary. All the other letters are vowels.

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some words and phrases. For each one, change exactly two letters to name a country. Hint: You never have to change the first letter of my word.

Ex. SOLARIA --> SOMALIA
1. ALGEBRA
2. NORMAL
3. TUSKED
4. MEDICS
5. CANARY
6. RUSTIC
7. GRIEVE
8. HANGARS
9. TUNES IN
10. SEVERAL
11. PAPAYA
12. CAME UPON

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some categories. For each one, take the last two letters, reverse them, and use those as the starting letters of something in the category.

Example: Direction --> North
1. U.S. coin
2. Sport with a net
3. City in Texas
4. Sculptor
5. Sign of the zodiac
6. Egyptian queen
7. Sea
8. Historic ship
9 English poet
10. Brand of soap
11. Brand of sneaker
12. Ice-cream flavor (2 wds.)

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two words. Drop one letter in each of them to leave two words that are in the same category of things.

Example: DRILL STAGE --> dill & sage (both herbs)
1. THEN THIRSTY
2. BOOST SHORE
3. LINDEN SATING
4. BUNGLE SHORN
5. JUDGE PESTER
6. CANINES NIECE
7. COUNTY PEARL
8. BRASS TREMBLE
9. LOITER GALLEON
10. LAUNCH SCUPPER

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. Insert the letters A-T consecutively inside the answer to the first clue to get the answer to the second.

Example: One who says "Semper fi" / Soak in herbs and spices --> MARIN(AT)E
1. Go through again, as an experience / Uncle or cousin
2. Hunter constellation / Grand speech
3. Name of a sea off the coast of Alaska / Chewing out
4. Buddhist place of worship / Shaped pattern used for making reproductions
5. Voltaire satire / One running for office

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word or name that ends in the syllable "loo" (in any spelling).

Ex. Big ruckus --> HULLABALOO

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word or phrase in which the only consonants are D and T, repeated as often as necessary. All the other letters are vowels.

Example: "Same here" --> DITTO

1. Was on a weight-loss regimen
2. Surpassed in accomplishment
3. Cry of achievement
4. Behaved obsequiously
5. Checked the financial records of
6. Having an uneven number of appendages on the foot
7. Insolent manner
8. Obsolete
9. Removed from an article intended for publication

On-air challenge: I'll give you some categories and two things in each one. You name the only other thing in that category that fits between the given two alphabetically.

Example: A brother and a daughter are both members of a family. If I asked, "What member of a family fits between BROTHER and DAUGHTER alphabetically?," you'd say COUSIN

On-air challenge: The four rarest letters in English are J, Q, X, and Z — which together account for less than 1% of all use in the language. I'm going to give you some words. Change a single letter in each one to a J, Q, X, or Z to make a new word.

Example: MANOR --> MAJOR

1. SUITE
2. ENACT
3. INSECT
4. EITHER
5. CONVEY
6. DUALITY

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you a two-word phrase. Think of a famous person whose first and last names rhyme, respectively, with the two words in the phrase.

Example: Shirt Style (with the hint "composer") --> KURT WEILL

On-air Challenge: Every answer today is a word, name, or phrase in which the only consonants are N and S, repeated as often as necessary. All the other letters are vowels.

Ex. Squeak and creak --> NOISES
[Starting with six-letter answers ...]
1. Japanese auto manufacturer
2. People who live in China and India
3. Capital of the Bahamas
[Seven letters ...]
4. Jacqueline Kennedy's surname after she remarried
5. Hairstylist Vidal
6. Silly
[More than eight letters ...]

On-air Challenge: I'm going to give you some categories in two words. You name something in each category starting with each initial in the category. Any answer that works is fine.

Ex. Zoo Animals --> Zebra, Anteater

1. Asian Countries
2. Dog Breeds
3. Cabinet Departments
4. Carnival Rides
5. Religious Holidays
6. Nonreligious Holidays
7. Florida Cities
8. [triple:] Foreign Auto Makes

On-air Challenge: Every answer today is a word starting with SH-. I'm going to give you two words. The first one can precede the answer and the second one can follow it, in each case to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Ex. Jump Glass --> SHOT [jump shot, shot glass]

1. Tortoise Game
2. Milk Hands
3. Soft Polish
4. Coffee Talk
5. Talk Business
6. Window Tree
7. Space Cock
8. Meteor Stall
9. Look Shooter
10. Cold Blade

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word, name, or phrase ending on the accented syllable "lay" — in any spelling.

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence conceals part of the human body in consecutive letters. Every answer has at least five letters.

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some categories in two words. You name something in each category starting with each initial in the category. Any answer that works is fine.

Ex. Foreign Languages --> French, Lithuanian
1. Zoo Animals
2. Domestic Airlines
3. Clue Weapons
4. Fruit Trees
5. American Poets
6. Mixed Drinks
7. African Nations
8. Australian Cities
9. Chess Pieces
10. Card Games

On-air challenge: Every answer today is an 8-letter word that consists of a 3-letter word inserted inside a 5-letter word. I'll give you a clue to the 3-letter word as well as the 5-letter word itself. You tell me the 8-letter word.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word, name, or phrase in which the only consonants are R and C, repeated as often as necessary. All the other letters are vowels.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word or name that sounds like it starts with two spoken letters of the alphabet.
Ex. Element #55 --> CESIUM (C-Z-um) or Wanting what other people have --> ENVIOUS (N-V-ous)

1. Degree or SpeedStick product
2. Green insect related to grasshoppers and crickets
3. Pilot
4. San ___, Calif.
5. Brainstorm
6. No person in particular
7. Obsolete, like old-fashioned language
8. Forty-three doubled

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a made-up two-word phrase in which the first word has five letters. Add one letter to the front and another at the end to make a seven-letter word that completes the phrase.

Ex. Decorative piece of needlework that's big enough --> AMPLE SAMPLER

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence hides the name of a U.S. city of seven more more letters. You name the cities.

Ex. The weightlifters are flexing tonight. [Ky.] --> LEXINGTON
1. Is the psychic a good prognosticator? [Ill.]
2. I don't like spoilsports mouthing off. [N.H.]
3. Make me a sandwich Italian-style. [Kan.]
4. Beauty queens rebuff a lot of suitors. [N.Y.]
5. We saved a swami's soul and spirit. [Mont.]
6. Grandma voted for Landon. [Fla.]

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a famous person, past or present, whose last name has 7 letters. I'll give you a word or phrase that contains those letters in left-to-right order (not consecutively) and a hint to that person. You name the person.

Example: CAME AROUND — British prime minister --> (David) Cameron

1. EMERY STONE — Philosopher and essayist

2. FENDER BENDER — Tennis champion

3. STRANGELY ENOUGH — American poet

4. BOMBER JACKET — Humorist

5. GROUP THEORIES — Folk singer

6. SLANDEROUS — U.S. senator

Pages