Thursday, August 19, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 15, 2010): There's Been a Mix-up at the Nursery

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 15, 2010): There's Been a Mix-up at the Nursery:
Q: Name two girls' names that are anagrams of each other, and both start with the letter 'C.' The answer should be a well-mixed anagram, with more than two letters switched in one name to get the other.
I'm guessing there might be some debate on the meaning of "well-mixed". I'll just say that if your names end with the same letter, you probably haven't found Will's intended answer. I'd provide a better clue, but after several days of camping I'm smelling pretty funky, so a shower is the first order of business.

Edit: My hint was "funky" as in Cornelia Funke, the award-winning German author of children's fiction. While there are other possible answers (CARLA/CLARA, CLAIRE/CARLIE), those aren't as long and as mixed up as what I assume is Will's intended answer.


  1. Here's my standard reminder... 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. It's tough coming up with sweet clues on these hot august nights, but I'll try.

  3. I'm usually no good at this... So let me blow my own horn right now! I got the answer! Sweet!

  4. Y'all may have crossed the line.

  5. That's wierd, I'm not aaron. I hate it when my kids don't sign out!!

  6. I've come up with two pairs of names that are consistent with some of the posted clues. One involves somewhat more letter scrambling than the other but one of the names in this pair is not particularly common. This is presumably the one Blaine is referring to, but I prefer the other in which both names are quite common (but unlike Blaine's they do end with the same letter).

  7. I submitted my answer and now I'm taking the midnight train.

  8. Lorenzo I found several where the first and last letters were the same, especially if you take into account "modern" spellings. I submitted the longer, more traditional name combination.

  9. Lorenzo, I think I know the pair of names you are thinking of. If you take the one with more syllables and "riffle shuffle" the letters, you get the other name. Right?

  10. Blaine, right! My clue is "a part of a saint, for example". Sufficiently obscure I hope!

  11. Question for Tom, aka Eleanor Fitz, aka Aaron:
    The origin of your pen name? An obscure member of early British nobility? The First Lady of Song? Or something else that the author prefers not to reveal?

  12. I caught which two names you were going for based on your hint, but I was able to come up with two other names with only the first and last letters being the same. I think there might be some leeway with this puzzle

  13. Lorenzo, the name goes back 25 years at least. I'd had many ideas for stories, songs and plays and decided if I were ever to follow through, I'd use a pen name.

    My vision of Eleanor Fitz was of an older woman(not sure I would say older anymore) who, as somewhat of an introvert, observed the world from a distance. Having never married, she would be "Miss Fitz".

    While bouncing around for most of my 20's, Eleanor Fitz became a tribute to anyone who hadn't yet found his place in the world.

    A bit corny, yes, but it stuck. And now I'll try my hand at the other pair of names.

    Oh, Aaron is my son. He logged onto my office computer last week and didn't log off.

  14. Lorenzo, after 4 tries, I think I got your clue but I've never heard that as a girl's name. Should I put up a "post" on twitter?

  15. Janice just got back from a trip to the East Coast, read the clues, and came up with the 8-letter names that I believe Blaine and several others got. Of the three pairs of names I now have, I agree with Blaine that this is probably the "correct" answer.

  16. Is it considered "cheating" to use a computer? Doing so I wound up with 5 pairs (that weren't just spelling variations, like "Cyndi" vs "Cindy")... I'm pretty sure the 8-letter pair were the ones Will was looking for, but I did come up with a 9-letter set that's somewhat unlikely (for a girl, at any rate).

  17. My clue "A part of a saint, for example" refers to an anagram of the 6-letter names I submitted.

  18. Lorenzo, I was way off, working with the saintly cardinal virtues --> Clarinda and Carlinda (not Will's intended answer). Still don't have yours.

  19. My assumption is Lorenzo was thinking of CLAIRE and CARLIE, or maybe CLAIR and CARLI.

  20. I'm looking forward to hearing Doctechnical's 9-letter pair.

    I started with CARLA/CLARA but rejected that as too short and barely mixed up. I also got CAROL/CORAL which led to CAROLINE/CORALINE/CORNELIA.

  21. Doctechnical, How 'bout this?

    From an ordered list of 4275 names:

    Caroline(248)/Cornelia(709),of which there are 3 in 4 generations of my family.

    Ordered by coefficient of variation (Bored yet?)which adjusts for different word lengths:


    Don't sell the short names short.

    I posted my hint on last week's page.

  22. My computer thought Christina/Christian worked, but (a) it's just a simple letter transposition and (b) although the name was on a "girl" list, I've never heard of a woman with the first name of Christian.

    The others have already been covered.

  23. There is a Georgia town called Cornelia. that's why I used "midnight train" as a clue. I thought the "sweet" clues covered Caroline well enough.

    I believe Will should have included a minimum number of letters disclaimer on this one because I also found several other names combinations that would work. Luckily I visit Blaine's blog and figured out those were just too easy.

  24. Here's a couple of long ones (12 letters) but they are really just different spellings of the same name and with minor swapping:

    They'd probably rank very low on Hugh's scales for both familiarity and variation.

  25. Blaine, Two interesting names.

    Cristabellah 26.19%

    Chrysanthiah 21.32%

    At first glance the first pair seems less different than the second. However, the number of letters that change position is greater. I should go back to the cookbook to find a better measure of what WS wants, but this is good enough for now.

  26. What about Cathleen and Chantele?

  27. I don't see why not; they are definitely well-mixed anagrams of each other.


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.