Thursday, September 04, 2008

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 31): Labor Weekend Sale, Vowels Are $100, Three Days Only

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 31): Labor Weekend Sale, Vowels Are $100, Three Days Only:
Q: Think of a 9-letter word with no repeated letters. The letters in the odd positions (the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th positions) are vowels. All five vowels, A, E, I, O and U, appear once each in some order. What word is this?
When I first read the puzzle, I thought "I already know the answer". It's the word FACETIOUS with A-E-I-O-U appearing once and in order... After I had that in my mind, for awhile it prevented me from noticing that I hadn't solved the right puzzle.

I think others might be stymied by the fact that the correct answer is a word that people commonly misspell. Hopefully you aren't one of the people that suffers from such an inability to spell. P.S. I was able to come up with two answers, but the second is not a common word at all. I wonder if anyone will submit it?

Edit: It's after the deadline so I think it okay to reveal my hidden clues: "prevented" and "suffer from".


  1. I came up with an answer, which I think will prove to be the one Will wants, pretty quickly. I made a series of short lines representing the letters, with bolder lines for the positions of the vowels, as if underlining the letters to be placed in those positions. Then, with the visual reinforcement of the fact that the word begins with a vowel I worked my way through the vowels trying to think of words that begin with each one and fit the parameters...

    Somehow my brain went in the right direction. Then I did some google-ing to see how easy it might be to cheat...

    I found a page in WikiAnswers with a link to a list of nearly 300 words that use all five vowels. The word I came up with is on that list but I didn't see any other word that would work so I still don't know what your other word is, Blaine.

  2. The second word is a medical term... an enzyme in human urine.

  3. You know, it's really amazing... try as I might I couldn't find any web pages devoted to lists of enzymes in human urine (or even enzymes in general) that use all five vowels.

    I guess Google's not perfect, after all...

    But really, all seriousness aside, that's a tougher than average search challenge; I didn't manage to find your other word. Maybe it'll come to me today as I'm relocating a friend's toilet. I guess that might be weirdly appropriate...

  4. Okay, I really need to get some work done so I promise I'm gone for a while now. But I think I figured out your word. I thought about the spelling of different enzymes and the fact that it's associated with urine and "invented" an arrangement that sounded like an enzyme and used all the vowels. It seems to be a real word associated with treatment of urinary conditions.

  5. Blaine, I checked out your second word and found that is it associated
    with muscular disease and cancer.

    In addition to the well-known word I
    submitted I found eight others that
    fit the puzzle. One of them is used
    in aerosol sprays.

    The puzzle this week is again too
    easy. Here is one from me: A nine-letter word with five unrepeated consonants and one vowel used four times. It's easy also.

  6. I'm really STUCK on this puzzle!

  7. Hey phredp, don't let it get under your skin man. But I know what you mean; a good, challenging puzzle can be like a sickness...

  8. I was listening to Depeche Mode's "Shake the Disease" when I decided to give this puzzle my best shot. We will see on Thursday.

  9. Don,
    I am sure you got the right answer.

  10. geri, I'm stumped by your puzzle. I think it might be because I've been worrying about the possible devastation of New Orleans at the (metaphorically speaking) hands of Gustav...

    Just too sad to think of all those wonderful restaurants getting thrashed again; such a waste of fine southern cuisine...

  11. hints, hints, hints. Something about this thing of almost every post being comprised of sentences that are trying to convey very different information from what they would appear to be conveying...

    For some reason it made me think of that thing they do on Whose Line is it Anyway where they end every sentence in the skit with "if you get my meaning..." Or maybe, "if you catch my drift," or both.

    This has the effect of making the most innocuous statements seem weirdly suggestive of something that's somehow related to sex or scatology or... who knows what. I laughed pretty hard when this struck me.

    Maybe I'll add these silly verbal flourishes to my future clues, if you catch my drift...

  12. Geri, I came up with several words that would fit your puzzle criteria:

    A words:

    E words:

    I couldn't come up with any I or U words, and only uncommon words like bloodroot or locomotor for O.

    Now if you meant that it had the same vowel repeated five times (with 4 different consonants), I have a unique answer.

  13. I grew up with a beautiful
    JACARANDA tree in our front yard.

  14. Did anyone solve the CarTalk puzzler yet?

  15. I did. I was driving around this weekend and was able to hear the CarTalk puzzler during the show. If you listened closely, you'd know the answer. I'm not sure if those that read it on the web would have the same advantage.

  16. Blaine, would your word be abracadabra?

    You had an impressive list of answers to Geri's puzzle. Did you use a query tool with a word database?

  17. I should have been clearer... my word is also nine-letters (4 unique consonants and a vowel repeated 5 times).

  18. Found a fun site for logophiles:

    Probably there are some others that are as fun, but I enjoyed this one and will get back to it.

    Discovered that I've been guilty of agastopia a few times in my life...

    The favorite words page is cool; liked what they said about "miasma."

  19. I'm impressed by anyone who found this week's puzzle too easy. I often feel that way about the puzzles, but this week's I found quite tough.

    -The Real, One and Only Ben :)

  20. Ben! Where have you been, Ben? What's the solution to your Olympic puzzler? I haven't heard anyone say they figured it out.

    Nice to see (figuratively speaking) you.

  21. Somehow I've managed to come up with two answers, and I'm pretty sure neither is the one Will intended. I discovered the urine enzyme and an obscure type of mineral. I submitted both just for fun, but I'm still working on the "real" answer.

  22. Since it is after the 3pm ET deadline, I have posted the common answer. In addition to the urine enyzme (UROKINASE), what is your obscure type of mineral?

  23. Blaine,
    I came up with the same answers you did and submitted the more common one, inoculate. Wonder who got called.

  24. I also had uranotile, courtesy of the crossword dictionary.

  25. I guess I think about enzymes infrequently enough to have forgotten how they're spelled; the word I came up with, that I thought was Blaine's second word, was urosamine.

    I believe Geri was referring to isobutane when she mentioned an ingredient in aerosol sprays.

    I'd love to see all the words folks on this blog came up with, however common or obscure...

  26. I submitted:

    unisolate acuminose
    isobutane unilobate
    uniramose aluminose
    urodinase uranolite

    I've worked on your five of
    one vowel with four different
    consonants to no avail. I'm
    ready and eager to learn the
    answer, please!

  27. ERRORS: uroKinase, not with a "d"
    and nomadreader made a mistake also.
    It's uranolite, not uranotile.

  28. Three more I haven't seen mentioned here:

  29. Blaine, Thank you for pointing out
    Blooki's clue. You're a honey.
    I'll sleep well tonight.

  30. I don't like uranolite; it's not as flavorful.

  31. The Free Dictionary lists URANOLITE
    as: n: a meteorite or aerolite.
    It does not list uranotile.
    Merriam-Webster's 11th Edition
    lists neither.

    Blaine, I have a second answer to
    your four unique consonants and a
    vowel reoeated five times:
    EYELETEER, a tool for making eyelets. It can be found in
    the Free Dictionary but not in
    Merriam's eleventh.

  32. "Uranophane is also known as
    URANOTILE. It has a yellow color
    and is radioactive."--Wikipedia

    Carl, Don't taste it.

  33. Carl, I think you were thinking of the other Ben. I haven't been here in a while due to the easiness of recent puzzles; apparently the same may be true of the other, lesser Ben. Just kidding, Ben! :)


For NPR puzzle posts, don't post the answer or any hints that could lead to the answer before the deadline (usually Thursday at 3pm ET). If you know the answer, 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 assist with solving. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the deadline. Thank you.