Making A Change To Keep A Constant Consonant

Nov 23, 2014
Originally published on November 23, 2014 8:56 am

NOTE: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the deadline for this week's puzzle will be on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern.

On-air challenge: You'll be given two words. Change the first consonant sound in each word to the same new consonant sound and you'll phonetically name two things in the same category. For example, given "soxer," and "legal," you would say "boxer," and "beagle," which are both breeds of dogs.

Last week's challenge: Name a country. Drop one of its letters. Rearrange the remaining letters to name this country's money. What is it?

Answer: Belarus; rubles

Winner: Richard McCurdy of Burbank, Calif.

Next week's challenge: The letters in the name of a major American city can be rearranged to spell a traveling cultural museum. What is it? Each name is a single word, and the city's population is more than a half million.

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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Previously on the puzzle.


CHRIS MATTHEWS: It took me about a half an hour. I was going to bed, and I just submitted. And I never thought you guys would call.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: I get a lot of my best puzzle ideas right before I go to sleep.

MARTIN: I understanding there might have been an alternative answer you would've accepted.

SHORTZ: An embalmed body in a pyramid.

MARTIN: You get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. Oh, hang on, hang on.

MARTIN: Good job. Very well done.

MATTHEWS: All right.

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

SHORTZ: Morning, Rachel. I think that sort of summarized last week.

MARTIN: Yeah, there you go. So remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes, I said name a country, drop one of its letters, rearrange the remaining letters to name this country's money. What is it? Well, the country was Belarus. Drop the A and you rearrange the letters to get rubles.

MARTIN: OK, so we also got one for the close, but no cigar file, right?

SHORTZ: Yeah. A couple of listeners submitted a clever answer, Israel to liras. The problem is, first of all, that Israel changed its currency from the lira to the shekel in 1980. And secondly, the plural of lira of the Israeli lira is lirot - L-I-R-O-T. So the answer didn't quite work.

MARTIN: All right, points for creativity. We got around 450 correct answers this week, though, and our randomly chosen winner is Richard McCurdy of Burbank, California. He joins us on the line now. Hey there, Richard. Congratulations.

RICHARD MCCURDY: Well, thank you very much. It's wonderful to be picked. It's thrilling.

MARTIN: I'm so glad you're with us. So how'd you figure out the answer?

MCCURDY: Well, I went down the list through the currencies, and I wasn't getting anywhere. And finally I said, McCurdy, you're not thinking outside of the box.


MCCURDY: And when I realized that it was plural, it finally came to me.

MARTIN: Good work. Way to get out of the box, Richard.

MCCURDY: Yep, and sometimes you can't figure out where the box is.

MARTIN: Yeah. That's usually me every week. What do you for a living in Burbank?

MCCURDY: I'm a postproduction sound editor for movies, and I specialize in doing minus dialog tracks, which makes sure that all the effects and music are in movies that they send overseas so that when they dub in a foreign language, nothings missing. I've done a lot of the classics, James Bond films.

MARTIN: That's a pretty cool gig.

MCCURDY: It is cool.

MARTIN: All right, well, with that, Richard, we could talk all day, but do you want to play the puzzle?

MCCURDY: I'm ready.

MARTIN: OK, let's do it, Will.

SHORTZ: I like that sound, Richard and Rachel. I'm going to give you two words. Change the first constant in each word to the same new consonant, and you'll phonetically name two things in the same category. For example, if I said soxer and legal, you would say boxer and Beagle. Changing the first letter to a B in each case and, of course, those are both dogs.

MARTIN: Let's give it ago.

SHORTZ: Number one is parrot and horn - H-O-R-N - as in the musical instrument.

MCCURDY: Oh, carrot and corn.


SHORTZ: Carrot and corn, that's it. Number two is Leon and fickle.

MCCURDY: Leon and fickle. Rachel, you might have to jump in there.

MARTIN: Oh, I thought I had it but then.

SHORTZ: This is an elementary one.

MARTIN: Really? Does that mean easy or you're giving me a clue?

MCCURDY: Neon and nickel.

SHORTZ: There you go. Neon and nickel. They're both chemical elements.

MCCURDY: That was a wonderful clue.

MARTIN: Very clever.

SHORTZ: OK, here's your next one. Mover and carding.

MARTIN: Carding. Can you spell the second word?

SHORTZ: C-A-R-D-I-N-G as if they're carding all the kids at the bar.

MCCURDY: Oh, Hoover and Harding.

SHORTZ: Hoover and Harding, yes. Canyon - C-A-N-Y-O-N - and teach.

MCCURDY: Canyon - oh, canyon and teach. Banyan and Beach.

SHORTZ: That's it. Tango and felon - F-E-L-O-N.

MCCURDY: Tango and felon. Mango and melon.

SHORTZ: That's it. Linger and put - P-U-T.

MCCURDY: Linger and put. That would be finger and foot.

SHORTZ: That's it. And here's your last one. Fonda - F-O-N-D-A - and Monday, as in the day of the week.

MCCURDY: Well, Fonda and Monday. That's a good one. That sounds like somebody's name.

SHORTZ: Yes, it does.

MCCURDY: And Monday, Sunday.

MARTIN: This one's hard. Ronda or runday - no. I'm going through the alphabet. Vonda.


MARTIN: Ponda.

SHORTZ: OK, earlier in the alphabet than P. Don't go that far.

MARTIN: OK. Donda.

SHORTZ: Little further down the alphabet than that.

MCCURDY: Ganda, Honda - oh, Honda and Hyundai.

SHORTZ: Honda and Hyundai. That's it.


MCCURDY: Wow. Those were beautifully thought out.

SHORTZ: Thank you.

MARTIN: You did a fabulous job. You were really fun to play with.

MCCURDY: Thank you.

MARTIN: And you know that for playing the puzzle, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, and you get puzzle books and games. You can go to our website,, and read all about those prizes. And before we let you go, Richard, what is your public radio station?

MCCURDY: We have two of them here - KPCC and KCRW. I listen to both of them really so I don't think I should single either one of them out.

MARTIN: Great. A man who likes some options. Richard McCurdy of Burbank, California. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Richard.

MCCURDY: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: You bet. OK, Will, what's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, the letters in the name of a major American city can be rearranged to spell a traveling cultural museum. What is it? I'll tell you each name is a single word. And here's a hint - the city's population is more than half a million. So again, a major American city, it's letters can be rearranged to spell a traveling cultural museum. What is it?

MARTIN: OK. When you've got the answer, go to the website,, find the submit your answer link and click on it. Just one entry per person please. And is important. Listen up. It is Thanksgiving week so get your answers in early, by Wednesday November 26, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. You shouldn't be public puzzling on a full stomach anyway. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. 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 he is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Mr. Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.