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Twice-Told Homophones

NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home.

Challenge from Oct. 2: Take the words MAY, NAY, and STAY. Except for their opening letters, M, N and ST, they're spelled the same and they rhyme. Can you name three common, un-capitalized words, starting with M, N and ST, that again are spelled the same except for these opening letters? None of the words rhyme with any of the others. The lengths of the answers are for you to determine.

Answer: Mature, Nature, Stature

Winner: Larry Davis of Santa Monica, Calif.

Challenge from Oct. 9:

From Ed Pegg Jr.: In a standard 4 by 4 magic square you arrange the digits from one to sixteen so each row, column and corner digital totals 34. This is a multiplication magic square: Arrange sixteen numbers in a four by four square so that the product of each row, column and corner to corner diagonal is 5,040. You can use any numbers you want. But they have to be whole numbers and you can’t repeat a number in the square. (And as a hint I’ll tell you the number in the upper left corner is 42.)

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NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz has appeared on Weekend Edition Sunday since the program's start in 1987. He's also the crossword editor of The New York Times, the former editor of Games magazine, and the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (since 1978).