Thursday, June 18, 2009

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 14): Ready for a test?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 14): Ready for a test?:
Q: Think of one word that starts with 'te' and another word that starts with 'st' — and they're synonyms. Hint: The 'te' word has two syllables; the 'st' word has one.
Anyone else worried that there might be several possible answers this week? I always hated when teachers had one answer in mind on a test that was worded such that there could be several potential answers. On the other hand, it must be hard as a teacher to design a test so it accurately measures whether students understood the material that was taught. Oh well, we'll see at the end of the week if we passed or failed this test.

Edit: My hints were 'worried ... [about] a test' (stressed), 'taught' (synonym for 'taut' (tense)'. In the first comment, I mentioned 'emphasize' (stress).
A: As I mentioned, there are numerous good answers. The two pairs I liked the most were:
Check the comments to see other choices.


  1. Again I must emphasize... don't post the answer or any outright spoilers 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. Thank you.

  2. Blaine,
    I agree about muliple correct answers. The first one I came up with was a cinch. Haven't quite figured out your answer based on your clue but I'm sure it will measure up.

  3. I can easily imagine more than one workable solution to this one. I came up with one quickly, and it can be associated with the answer to a fairly recent NPR puzzle, or a work by a rather famous playwright whose name can be associated with women selling toiletries door-to-door...

  4. That might have been too revealing, but potentially of what may be the "wrong" answer... Hope I didn't anger someone, in any case.

    And here is a better-than-average recounting of the "urban legend" of the numerous, workable (but "incorrect") answers to the physics question concerning the use of a barometer to determine the height of a tall building:

  5. Ms Alice Paul would not eat or drink; she’d have nothing to do with the guards’ teapot’s contents which began their casting an eye on the squall pall Ms Paul was, for them, apparently creating.

    So, the guards, Americans all and with the blessings and exaltations of the powerful, initiated their own riotous blitz.

    Within ... the State of Virginia’s Occoquan Workhouse Prison: 15 November 1917
    = the Night of Terror. = … domestic, homeland terrorism. Alice Cosu, another Alice and colleague of Ms Paul's, died that night. My very own mama ... exactly eight months old that night.

    Because of the brouhaha Ms Paul and her like – minds were seemingly developing, the USA Prez – W Wilson this particular one happened to be at the time of the Night’s tumult – conspired to stash Ms Paul away ... away ... away ... permanently.

    Sooooo, ... he and his tycoons and buffoons, did what millennia’s worth of bullying, threatening and threatened men have done: hired a doc to medically say - and to sign off on (an UNConstitutional and hardly "legal") statement – that Ms Paul was a whacko, a nutso, Miss Looney Tunes, had gone full - tilt boogie - bonkers.

    Only the doc altogether stymied the President's and his gang's coup. The physician is known to have placed the so contrived, connived and explosive strategem into further upheaval by his flat - out refusal, "Ms Paul is strong and brave; that does not make her crazy. Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity." ... Search "33 women" = for many, many accounts about which your high school American H i s tory class teachers ... never ... even ... one time ... regaled, did they?

  6. I totally agree with Blaine that there will probably be multiple answers to this week's quiz.

    Blaine, does your clue contain a homonym that relates to both words? If so, does removing two letters from your word result in that homonym? I'm just trying to figure out if we're thinking about the same word pair.

    My daughter always answers the phone on the first ring because the call may be from a member of the octet her school sponsors.

  7. There may be multiple answers. The "te" word I got happens to contain a reference to the theme of the puzzle.

  8. Someone with a nerd waistline is more likely to solve this puzzle.

  9. I could only think of one fitting solution, but perhaps thats becasue I'm mechanically minded...

  10. carl's clue was a dead giveaway, way to much info in there, no futher hints required!

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I didn't monitor that last one well enough - maybe later. It was prompted by memories of Old Howard who replaced The National Geographic in opening my eyes.

    Phredp, I did scan Roget and found other answers, one of which easily matches what I take to be your clue. I even found two others, but I think the vote has been cast for the best answer.

  13. Got a couple of matches, but I'm settling for the one that reminds me of the classic 1956 sci-fi film in which Walter Pidgeon played the "Prospero" character.

  14. Blue of Central Iowa, your first paragraph tells me that we've the same solution. However, I don't understand the rest of your message.

    carl, I think you also the same solution.

  15. Dave, we have the same answer. My wife came up with the alternate answer that others like Blue have hinted at (perhaps too obviously).

    Like Hugh, I've found a couple other "near" synonyms that could work as well, so Will is going to be busy this week.

  16. If my first idea is the correct answer, then I must urge our master blogger to practice what he preaches--remember, you never have a second shot at a first impression.

  17. I'm certainly guilty of being too obvious; surprised you didn't remove my post, Blaine. Wouldn't have been miffed if you had.

    Geri, did you do the recent Sunday NYT puzzle, "Shifty Business?" I blame this ear infection (convenient, in a way) for my failure to completely grasp the theme until the very last, and center, square...

    Still need to take a few minutes to try to find alternate answers to this week's challenge.

  18. I found two answers and I think both work well.

    One has been well covered by Carl and Blue.

    The other I don't see up here, but I haven't tried too hard to look for it.

    Both have been submitted. I look forward to Thursday!

    -- Other Ben

    (Who will change his nom de guerre to Ben if "Original Ben" hides away for the whole summer.)

  19. Okay - I'm really perplexed on this one. My cousin and I came up with 4 different sets of answers, that all seem to work.

  20. I heard the puzzle on Sunday and went about solving it. When I found a workable solution, I submitted it. I came on this site and see that the solution most clued about (Carl, Blue, Eddie, et al) is different and probably better than mine. Nevertheless, I will tie myself down to my first solution.

  21. Okay - my cousin and I just came up with a 5th solution that is also pretty good.

  22. I have 18 solutions, 6 of which are pretty good, 6 of which are only a bit of a stretch, and 6 of which rely on unconventional definitions. I'll share all on Thursday. In the meantime: poorly posed puzzle, Mr. Shortz.

    I got the most-common clued one here while working in my garage. My sea kayak's model name happens to be the "te" word.

  23. I had two solutions but neither seem to fit the clues here. My idea has more to do with fashion.

  24. Ken, it looks like your answer is the same as mine and Blaine's.

  25. Ken, I think you and I were on the same page. Now I'll saddle up and ride off into the sunset.
    Or get into my balloon and float back to Kansas.

  26. So the question is, which solution did Will have in mind ? I expect he'll acknowledge the top ones (I'm thinking four, two of which include different ST words that match the same TE word, even though they can and are used interchangeably, this still doesn't feel right - I'm feeling the pressure of non-unique solutions!

  27. Thanks for the great clues...I took a breather to play on the Oregon Coast...

  28. Carl, You deserve a GOLD STAR for
    conquering "Shifty Business." I would
    have given up on it. I don't get any
    NYT puzzles. I do Washington Post,
    Newsday, and Malibu Surfside News but only Sundays.

  29. 3pm has come and gone. Here are the answers I found:

    tempest storm
    tendril strand
    technique style
    tension strain
    tension stress
    temper state
    tether strap
    tender stiff
    tendon string
    tenor style
    tension stretch
    tenure stretch
    terrace steppe
    temper strain
    terrace street
    tether stake
    tetched strange

    I earlier promised 18 answers, but had to eliminate 1 because the syllable count was wrong. Even the last one relies on a strange pronunciation. Let's call it 16 answers.

    Some of these (tenor/style, tenure/stretch) rely on secondary or atypical definitions. Still, this is the same man who considered "nuts" and "crackers" to be synonyms in January so I figure these are fair game.

  30. Wolftone, Wow!

    I wonder if WS selected this person who attended the Liberace Museum 30th anniversary to announce the gifts to the winner of this puzzle.

  31. Wolftone, I am seriously impressed. Nice work there! Amazingly enough, the answer that I submitted doesn't match any of your pairs. I submitted one answer from Column A and one from Column B: tether and string. Did anyone else submit the same pair?

  32. Roll Call: I submitted technique & style

  33. I tied myself down to TETHER and STRAP.

  34. I stressed over TENSION and STRAIN (after I strained over TENSION and STRESS)

  35. Storm and tempest. (I liked the fact that tempest contained the word "test" which was the theme of the puzzle.)

  36. I had tether and stop because both
    related to restrain but reading what was going on here all week I hadn't the nerve to submit.

  37. I chose tether and strap thus the clue "it was a cinch" and "saddle up or take my hot air balloon back to Kansas"

  38. Amazing work, Wolftone!

    I submitted two answers:

    -- TEMPEST and STORM, which was hinted at broadly by several people here.

    -- TENOR and STRAIN, a variant on a few of Wolftone's answers, as in the TENOR or STRAIN of a discussion or argument.

    That also explains my Monday hint:

    "One has been well covered by Carl and Blue. The other I don't see up here, but I haven't tried too hard to look for it." ("Trying too hard" was implying STRAIN.)

    -- Other Ben

  39. I had TENSION and STRESS. My wife had TEMPEST and STORM. But we also had found some of the variations like TENDRIL and STRAND, TETHER and STRAP, TEMPO and STEP (not so good). At that point we gave up thinking of more.

    So any bets on the intended answer?

  40. I would bet on tension and stress. Tests produce those feelings, and it is graduation and finals time for many schools.

  41. My guess: whichever of the two most popular was the intended answer, they'll have accepted either. Which one do I think was the intended answer? Useless speculation, maybe; I lean towards Tempest and Storm, but it could easily enough be Tension and Stress.

  42. I'm expecting the "offical" answer to be TEMPEST & STORM - the "in a teacup" phrase is pretty common. TENSION and STRESS/STRAIN should be viable answers too but STRESS and STRAIN are so close they almost suggest each other, making me think Will hadn't seen that solution (or the 13 others...)
    Whatever the outcome, it will be interesting to hear Will explain why the puzzle was phrased as if there was only one solution.

  43. Here are few more "sort of" answers to add to Wolftone's list:

    textbook stock
    terrace stoop
    teeming stuffed

  44. I submitted temper and steam...I think our friends on The Deadliest Catch would have sent in tempest and storm...

  45. I submitted TEMPEST & STORM. But I would also suggest TEMPERED & STRONG or TEMPERED & STEELED.

  46. I submitted tension and stress. They relate to test.

  47. Tempest and Storm it was - but I was a
    bit surprised that Will didn't even acknowledge the alternate solutions.

  48. "We had (unintelligible word) sixteen
    hundred entries this week."

    Liane, You are sorely missed when
    you are not with Will for the puzzle.

  49. I too was surprised that there was no acknowledgement of possible other answers. So if we assume there were 1500+ answers that were specifically TEMPEST/STORM, the actual number of entries (with alternates) was probably much higher. Maybe that's why he didn't even mention them.

  50. Amswer submitted. This week's puzzle is not difficult.

  51. I submitted tendril/strand; I forget which one my husband submitted but he also came up with all of ones Wolfone had with tension and also terrace/steppe.


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.