Thursday, February 23, 2012

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 19, 2012): Adjoining States Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 19, 2012): Adjoining States Puzzle:
Q: The word "marten," as in the animal, consists of the beginning letters of "Mississippi," "Arkansas," "Texas," and "New Mexico"; you can actually drive from Mississippi to Arkansas to Texas to New Mexico in that order. What is the longest common English word you can spell by taking the beginning letters of consecutive states in order as you travel through them? Puzzlemaster Will Shortz's answer has eight letters, but maybe you can top that.
I see a number of ways to match Will's answer but I'm still working on a way to top him.

Edit: The first word I found was millions, hence the clue above about "a number"
A: Assuming we can't visit a state more than once and we can't cross the four-corners diagonally, I have these words:

Common words:
omissions = oklahoma, missouri, iowa, nebraska, south dakota
ketamines = kentucky, tennessee, arkansas, missouri, nebraska, south dakota
millions = missouri, illinois, iowa, nebraska, south dakota
missions = missouri, iowa, nebraska, south dakota
misstate = missouri, tennessee, arkansas, texas
vitamins = virginia, tennessee, arkansas, missouri, nebraska, south dakota

Less common words:
illimitate = illinois, missouri, tennessee, arkansas, texas
artemisin = arkansas, tennessee, missouri, iowa, nebraska
coregnant = california, oregon, nevada, arizona, new mexico, texas
coregonid = california, oregon, idaho
florigens = florida, georgia, north carolina, south carolina
miltomate = mississippi, louisiana, texas, oklahoma, missouri, arkansas, tennessee
nevermass = new hampshire, vermont, massachusetts
virgining = virginia, north carolina, georgia
floriage = florida, alabama, georgia
floriate = florida, alabama, tennessee
misagent = mississippi, alabama, georgia, north carolina, tennessee
misatone = missouri, arkansas, texas, oklahoma, new mexico

Finally if you are going to allow repeated visits to the same state, I have:
non-omissions = new mexico, oklahoma, new mexico, oklahoma, missouri, iowa, nebraska, south dakota
concomitate = colorado, nebraska, colorado, oklahoma, missouri, tennessee, arkansas, texas
amalgamate = arkansas, mississippi, alabama, georgia, alabama, mississippi, arkansas, tennessee
amalgamist = arkansas, mississippi, alabama, georgia, alabama, mississippi, tennessee
mononomial = missouri, oklahoma, new mexico, oklahoma, new mexico, oklahoma, missouri, arkansas, louisiana
... and quite a few shorter words

65 comments:

  1. Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via Google or Bing) before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here.

    You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't give the answer away. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the Thursday deadline. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My comment at the end of last week's blog:

    skydiveboy Feb 18, 2012 09:07 PM
    New puzzle just came up and this time I think all will agree it is well stated.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Question: Would traveling by boat to get to Hawaii or Alaska be allowed? Or are we only talking about the 48 contiguous states here?

    ReplyDelete
  4. PlannedChaos:

    I'm pretty sure the answer to that is no. Remember in the example it says "you can drive..." to go from state to state, always taking at least the initial letter and possibly taking second, third, etc. letters as well.

    Even if you had one of those amphibious cars that can drive on water, still you could never get all the way to Hawaii in one of those cars; you'd run out of gas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. That's what I'm thinking, too. Because if boats were allowed then we could go directly from Florida to California, for instance, and that seems poorly defined to me.

      Skydiveboy, I disagree. In Will's own example he uses the first two letters of both Arkansas and Texas to spell marten.

      Delete
  5. I have a very stupid eleven letter answer!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My assumptions (but they may be wrong):
    1) Alaska and Hawaii are disallowed.
    2) You can't go diagonally through the four corner states (e.g. Colorado to Arizona)
    3) You can't return to a state you've already been to.
    4) DC is not a state.

    Certainly these are open to debate, but those are the rules I'm using.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've come to these rules independently as well.

      Delete
  7. Anyone notice that Will could have saved a state spelling "narten" if he went Mississippi-Arkansas-Tennessee?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too saw that. Did anyone notice Marmot?

      Delete
    2. Anyone think Will picked "marten" as an indirect reference to the host, Rachel Martin?

      Delete
  8. I just found a nine-letter plural. Seems like an oversight on Will's part.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Now that I read the puzzle correctly I have come up with a 9 letter word using 5 states.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I believe I have a singular, non-diagonal, drivable by land only word that was missing something but then made it to nine letters and the last state borders the first state !

    ReplyDelete
  11. Amended to a ten letter verb formed by six states

    ReplyDelete
  12. How many initial letters of each state are allowed? For example, what prevents me from saying that my word is just "Massachusetts"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
    2. I don't think there is a limit... for example, you could use "connect" from "Connecticut" or "main" from "Maine". However, I think the answer is intended to be a common word that is not a proper noun, so using all of "Massachusetts" wouldn't be a valid answer.

      Delete
    3. I think that "beginning letters" means that you can't have a complete state name in the answer. Otherwise, answers like pennsylvanians might be allowed.

      Delete
    4. I'm not sure how you get the 's' for Pennsylvanians, but I agree it would be really easy if we could just use residents of the various states. I can see answers for Pennsylvanian, Californian, Minnesotans, Missourite, Nebraskans, Virginians, Georgians, Montanans, Oklahoman and Arizonan (8 or more letters). But again, I don't think that's what Will intended since those would be considered proper nouns.

      Delete
    5. I'm sorry, it wasn't Pennsylvanians, but Nebraskans formed from NEBRASka and KANSas.

      Delete
  13. oops - should have spell checked - I only have a valid nine letter word. A bit of irony there - I think the same answer as Planned Chaos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yesterday when I read your post I could see the possibility that you might have made a mistake and I think it is the same word I tried to make work unsuccessfully.
      BTW there is a small hint in this post.

      Delete
  14. I now have two nine letter words.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Now that I have come up with what I think is the intended answer I am going to open a bottle of sherry and take a ride around the block in our family's old Model T. Probably not in that order!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have an eight letter singular through six states or nine letter plural through seven states. However, I don't think it really is considered a "common" word.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have one nine-letter word (plural). It is.

    Separate comment: I assume that names of geologic (sub)periods are not acceptable (in line with comment of Jeffrey Shallit, above): it is possible to form at least one such name using 2 states.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the same nine-letter plural as mine.

      Delete
    2. Hi Ken,
      This is another Ken who has posted in Blainesville in the past. I haven't posted a whole lot lately, so you can use "Ken" if you like. If I post again, I'll use another designation, like Ken #2.

      Ken #2

      Delete
    3. At last I finally understand the etymology of Will's favorite game.

      Delete
  18. I got an eight-letter plural word. It's definitely common. Must be it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I also got a very common eight letter plural word, and I am still trying to add a prefix to lengthen it. I got another eight letter non-plural word, which is a bit less common, and would probably be considered a proper name. Still lots of time to let things simmer.....

    ReplyDelete
  20. In the uncommon category, I have one 10-letter word and several 9-letter words.

    In the common category, I have two 9-letter words, but they are both plurals.

    Not counting the singular of those two words, I have three other non-plural words of 8 letters. I think one of these is Will's intended answer since it is more common than the other two.

    Finally, I have about three plural words in 8-letters.

    ReplyDelete
  21. One of my nine letter words is singular and also common. That is my statement for now. It may come down to choosing states' rights, or choosing the right states.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have an eight letter solution, but I don't think it's the intended one. So to keep me from whining about it, I posted a puzzle a day early. I feel better now.

    Follow this link to a new puzzle.

    ReplyDelete
  23. okay,

    I have found 1 nine letter word that requires you to go through one of the states twice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then you will at least know which restaurants to avoid part of the way.

      Delete
    2. If you are going to allow repeat visits, I can make several 10 letter words and an 11 letter word.

      Delete
  24. I was so excited when I discovered my 9 letter solution, I almost forgot to send it in.

    ReplyDelete
  25. For anybody who liked this puzzle try this one: Using the same rules, try driving through a series of European countries and coming up with a 9-letter word which names something that had a big influence on the countries you drive through.

    ReplyDelete
  26. EKW posted on Feb 20, 2012 at 07:03 PM:

    "I also got a very common eight letter plural word, and I am still trying to add a prefix to lengthen it."

    By any chance, were you thinking of taking a ferry from Michigan through Lake Michigan so as to get directly into Illinois bypassing Indiana?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enya and Weird Al,

      I had not considered any boat rides. I was approaching IL from the other direction. I have plenty of multi-word phrases, but no honest one word improvements on the original eight letter plural.

      I did review the statement of the puzzle on the NPR web site and I see no prohibition about visiting a state more than once. I think that is OK as long as you pick up some additional letter or letters from another state between the visits.

      Delete
  27. I finally got the 9-letter plural that was hinted at by others, but I'm sure there are better answers if I still had the time and programming skills to devote to finding them!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Blaine said on Feb 21, 2012 at 11:56 PM:

    "If you are going to allow repeat visits, I can make several 10 letter words and an 11 letter word."

    Blaine, I then recommend that you make your submission pointing out that Will had not ruled out repeat visits and SUBMIT that 11 letter word!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Actually, I just realized there's a 12-letter plural that is an extension of the 9-letter plural most people have. I'll explain more after 3pm ET today.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I submitted OMISSIONS at 9 letters, driving through Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. I thought I had a nine letter, non plural, answer with FLUORIDATE, but then I realized I neglected to include the U. This made me feel a bit sheepish. Wasn't it George Romney who rammed it home, "Ewes are people too!"?

    MY HINT WAS:

    "Yesterday when I read your post I could see the possibility that you might have made a mistake and I think it is the same word I tried to make work unsuccessfully.
    BTW there is a small hint in this post."
    The hint is the word SEE, aka C. I thought Dave J was most likely thinking COMISSIONS is a ten letter word, but it is spelled: COMMISSIONS.

    ReplyDelete
  31. @SDB yep that was my (bad) thinking !

    ReplyDelete
  32. I think Million Count is two words, though I have seen tencount and hundredcount written as one word.

    You can do Millioncount as Missouri-Illinois-Iowa-Nebraska-Colorado-Utah-New Mexico-Texas. But you also need to be able to go diagonally across four corners, and Blaine said he would get out of the car if I did this.

    Otherwise, Millions works, but it is only 8 letters.

    -- Other Ben

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too found MILLIONS, but did not feel I had won the jackpot.

      Delete
  33. Whoa! The plural of vitamin ends in ES? A quote from Merriam-Webster Dictionary online:
    "Examples of VITAMIN

    This cereal contains essential vitamins and minerals."

    When I posted on Feb 22, 2012 at 06:09 PM:

    'EKW posted on Feb 20, 2012 at 07:03 PM:

    "I also got a very common eight letter plural word, and I am still trying to add a prefix to lengthen it."

    By any chance, were you thinking of taking a ferry from Michigan through Lake Michigan so as to get directly into Illinois bypassing Indiana?'

    I had thought that EKW had thought of the same thing I had thought of, VITAMINS, and was considering adding a prefix of MILK, but wanted to follow Blaine's assumption of not re-using any states.

    I later submitted MILK-VITAMINS: Here's my actual submission:
    "My answer: Since you have not ruled out either compound words nor revisiting a state, I therefore submit
    MILK-VITAMINS -- 12 letters.
    Missouri, ILlinois, Kansas, VIrginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, & South Dakota."

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm a little late in posting my list.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Ketamines was the word I came up with. Didn't think it was considered common

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought they were pretty common in the rave scene going by the nicknames Special-K and Ecstasy. I was familiar enough with the term (not from usage mind you) to consider it common, but I will concede it is less common than omissions.

      Delete
  36. Blaine said on Feb 23, 2012 at 09:41 AM:

    "Actually, I just realized there's a 12-letter plural that is an extension of the 9-letter plural most people have. I'll explain more after 3pm ET today."

    So far the only 9-letter plurals revealed here have been skydiveboy's OMISSIONS and just now bhunter47's Ketamines; which made me look it up:
    <from Merriam-Webster Dictionary online:>
    "Definition of KETAMINE
    : a general anesthetic administered intravenously and intramuscularly in the form of its hydrochloride C13H16ClNO·HCl — compare Special K"
    -- which raises the questions "Does ketamine even HAVE a plural?", "Can there exist more than one ketamine?", And "WHAT THE HELL IS IN SPECIAL K CEREAL!!!!????" ;-)
    Anyway, I'd still like to know what is Blaine's 9-letter plural and what 3-letter prefix can you put before it?
    I've actually looked at the map trying to find a 3-letter plural for omissions.
    "This picnic has been wonderful, and would've been so typical of most picnic's I've had, WERE IT NOT FOR ALL THOSE DAMN ANT-OMISSIONS!!!" ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe you can apply the term "ketamines" to the class of drugs.

      I was thinking of omissions and non-omissions.

      Delete
  37. <ACCCHHH!!!> That should've been "prefix", not "plural". I of course MEANT to say "I've actually looked at the map trying to find a 3-letter prefix for omissions."

    ReplyDelete
  38. Has anyone figured out just how many gallons of gas have been wasted during this exercise? Perhaps that is why the price at the pump has been rising again.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Blaine said on Feb 23, 2012 at 06:06 PM:
    'I believe you can apply the term "ketamines" to the class of drugs.

    I was thinking of omissions and non-omissions.'

    I'm replying here because I've encountered a problem here and it might be connected to attempting to post a reply within a reply.

    All I wanted to add to what Blaine was thinking of was "Ok, THAT would be almost taking 'revisiting a state' to extremes!

    (Such a simple reply, but I'm wondering if a lot of people here have had problems posting on this system. By now I expected to see a LOT more posts of answers people had thought of.)

    Oh good, it seems to be working now. At least I got to the Preview phase.

    Ok, Blaine. There seems to be a problem with this blog posting system whenever anyone tries to post a reply TO a reply, rather than just posting a new comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not had this problem yet.

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately Blogger is in control of the commenting system and they are constantly tweaking things. They seem to have the most problems with the OpenID logins, so if you are able to switch to another login method, that might help.

      Delete
  40. New puzzle just came up and I was thinking we were done with states.

    ReplyDelete
  41. At least this time we don't have to drive. I'm thinking I might just stroll along on this one and it might even be my last NPR puzzle to solve too, now that they are so easy, not to mention all the problems with descriptions.

    ReplyDelete