Sunday, January 31, 2021

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 31, 2021): Driving Across the USA

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 31, 2021): Driving Across the USA
Q: Starting in Montana, you can drive into South Dakota and then into Iowa. Those three states have the postal abbreviations MT, SD, and IA — whose letters can be rearranged to spell AMIDST. The challenge is to do this with four connected states to make an eight-letter word. That is, start in a certain state, drive to another, then another, and then another. Take the postal abbreviations of the four states you visit, mix the letters up, and use them to spell a common eight-letter word. Can you do this?
I'm using a list of states directly connected by physical roads/bridges. This leaves out states that might legally touch on a map (e.g. UT-NM, AZ-CO, MI-MN, NY-RI, etc.). But even still, I'm not convinced there is only one answer. I guess it comes down to your definition of "common".

Edit: Unless there is some further restriction, I have at least 6 words that I consider common, 3 more if you allow an added S.
A: Common words:
  • animator (IA-MO-AR-TN)
  • condemns (SD-NE-CO-NM)
  • diamonds (ND-SD-IA-MO)
  • diocesan (SD-IA-NE-CO)
  • dioramas (SD-IA-MO-AR)
  • flagrant (AR-TN-GA-FL)
  • nominate (NE-IA-MO-TN)
  • ornament (AR-TN-MO-NE)
  • ransomed (SD-NE-MO-AR)
  • Less common words:
  • contused (UT-CO-NE-SD)
  • diaphone (IN-OH-PA-DE)
  • eduction (ID-UT-CO-NE)
  • galavant (GA-AL-TN-VA)
  • magneton (NE-MO-TN-GA)
  • mediants (MT-SD-NE-IA)
  • moleskin (NE-KS-MO-IL)
  • moralism (IL-MO-AR-MS)
  • nomadism (SD-MN-IA-MO)
  • nonmetal (NE-MO-TN-AL)
  • saintdom (SD-IA-MO-TN)
  • tangrams (MS-AR-TN-GA)
  • Uncommon words:
  • coenamor (CO-NE-MO-AR)
  • domaines (SD-NE-IA-MO)
  • makimono (NM-OK-MO-IA)
  • martagon (MO-AR-TN-GA)
  • matronal (MO-AR-TN-AL)
  • monecian (CO-NE-IA-MN)
  • takingly (IL-KY-TN-GA)

    1. Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via a chain of thought, or an internet search) 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.

    2. I am foggy on this one – just too many possibilities to check out. I have an answer, the word is a real one, but not common. I am searching no more.

      1. I have an answer with an uncommon word also.

      2. I now have two answers, one, a "common" word.

      3. I have six answers... I will not look for more.

      4. I have one word that is defined by a more common word. Not sure acceptable but sent in.

    3. I posted on Sun Jan 31, at 06:05:00 AM PST on last week's thread:

      Start with the postal abbreviation of the starting state, append, in order, the abbreviations of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th states. Now break that string into just a few chunks and rearrange those chunks to get the word. When you discover the answer, you'll be amazed how FEW chunks it takes!

    4. Two surprises this morning. Surprise #1 was the small number of correct entries for cutie-pie. Surprise #2 was that the route to my answer was independent of interstate traffic. Like Blaine, I expect alternate answers to be found. I assume ron is on the case.

      1. I have 11 valid words so far, with 6 that I'd consider common.

    5. Almost like postal codes and the USPS, the answer is something of a lost art.

    6. I could probably think of a non-TMI hint, but I'd rather not monkey with it.

    7. If proper nouns are allowed, I have an geographic answer that I'm partial to.

    8. Your award for this is a lapel pin IF you are chosen.

    9. If not, it should be. Maybe it will be the 2021 Word of the Year.

    10. Through sheer dumb luck and by a small miracle, I got this very quickly. I've been to three of the states but not the fourth. Given all the possible combinations, I can see how this could drive Blainevillians crazy.

      1. Hmmm... I wonder if the NPR stations start with a K or W

    11. This comment has been removed by the author.

      1. My legitimate word is fairly common, especially in certain circles.

      2. My answer can rearranged to a legitimate 8-letter word, a proper noun, and a word with mostly foreign connotations.

    12. I found two common 10-letter words that can be made by driving through 5 states.

    13. This puzzle suits me to a t, which if you place in front of the intended answer, you get a word, phonetically that’s very relevant here.

      1. More proof that there is more than one answer, because that is not true for my word.

      2. Thanks for the good wishes, Dr. K. I actually "got" the call about 15 years ago but I was serving on a jury and gave NPR the courtroom number because I had no mobile phone. Of course, the call came when we were at lunch so I missed it. The courtroom staff who answered the phone were thrilled that I had "won," though. -LT

      3. Ouch. That must have hurt. At least you had the courtroom staff's moral support. I got the call about a year ago, after 30 years of submissions. A year later, I'm still a bit incredulous. And, somehow, we're on another thread. As Robert Frost once wrote in anticipation of our digital world, "...way leads on to way."

    14. Here is--I hope--an oblique clue (to my answer, anyway; there may be other answers): 1929, 1975, 2007, 2013, 2015.

      I enjoyed listening to the on-air puzzle contestant, Gary St. Germain.

      1. Siz, I think you and I have the same answer. (But I’m not so sure that Word Woman or Snipper and I do.) One way of determining that we have the same answer (warning: anagram alert): if you anagram the 8-letter word, among some other anagrammed solutions, you can get someone who’s been fooled.

      2. Dr. K, Not sure I understand your instructions. Can you anagram your answer to a three word phrase for a skinny male bovine?

      3. No, Siz, not "a three word phrase for a skinny male bovine," not that I can see. I guess we may have different answers after all. My answer does angram into several different 2- and 3-word phrases. One of the 2-word phrases, as I said above, could be defined as "someone who's been fooled," but any more precise info and I might get Blainesmacked. I'm beginning to think that this puzzle will be Will's Tower of Babel.

      4. I might have the same answer as Dr. K, if the 2-word phrase applies to only some fooled people and not others. BTW my answer also anagrams to a 2-word phrase for the rectification of persons who have misbehaved.

      5. Yes, Unknown (LT), we have the same answer.

      6. Thanks for confirming, Dr. K. It was the only common word I could come up and doesn't seem to fit a lot of the clues here so I was beginning to wonder if my route-finding might be flawed. -LT

      7. Unknown (LT), I was wondering the same about my answer after I'd begun to see all the subsequent posts that seemed to suggest different answers. I won't be surprised if there are several correct answers (above, I called this puzzle "Will's Tower of Babel") , but I wonder how the person or persons at NPR who choose the winner can know all of them. Anyway, best of luck. Not to jinx it, but, maybe, tomorrow, about 3 p.m., the phone will ring, and....

      8. Thanks for the good wishes, Dr. K. I actually "got" the call about 15 years ago but I was serving on a jury and gave NPR the courtroom number because I had no mobile phone. Of course, the call came when we were at lunch so I missed it. The courtroom staff who answered the phone were thrilled that I had "won," though. -LT (mistakenly replied to the preceding post when I first posted this)

    15. Don't get so worked up. The word is very common... especially right now.

      1. More so last year, right?

      2. I think last year's answer is the intended one. But there are so many right answers...

    16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    17. I wish eco was here to express the disdain of sensible folks for anagrams.
      I do like postal codes however, especially ones that can be made into words in order (e.g., CODE and MADE).
      There are seven eight-letter ones should you eschew rearranging and try to find them instead.
      At least the PM didn't lock himself into the no alternative room.

    18. I have 38 total words at least 20 of which are "common" (I think!). I have one word that I can get with two different paths--the two (unordered) sets of 4 states are not exactly the same, although they overlap. Also, I have (at least) one path that gives two different common words.

      1. And, several involving 5 states, one for 6 states, and one for 7 states. None for 8 states.

    19. I have an answer. Maybe I should go for two or three. If that is too much information, Blaine may remove my post.

    20. Using an online list of states that adjoin - excluding boundaries over water - my computer found about 2 dozen paths that make words I know, not counting the same paths in reverse. I didn't think of roads ... but maybe a tractor could do them.

      1. I've been slowly checking states with tenuous boundaries. So far all driveable, but not done yet.

    21. I didn't find quite as many as you guys above, but I have a small word list and a limited vocabulary. So I found 18 with 10 that I would consider common.

    22. A straight line between two state capitals is a little over 700 miles and goes through the four answer states.

    23. Only 350 answers last week. This week is easier.

      1. I found last week's answer much faster. Had to work today.

      2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      3. I remain frustrated. Last week's was truly easy as pie.

      4. I thought that was surprisingly low, too.

    24. Team DDX elected to brute force this one. There are a very large number of neighboring state relationships, but it is a finite set. Crunching and anagramming postal abbreviations provides at least 14 answers with many more "uncommon" words. There is an interesting geographic feature that almost all of these answers have in common. I'll be interested to hear Will's comments as he said he knows of only one answer.

      Didn't screen "drive to" road maps, but last time I checked, we had not yet erected walls between states, although natural barriers may exist. Do ferries count?

      1. My count so far:
        7 common words
        3 common plural words
        9 less common words
        2 less common plural words
        7 uncommon words
        28 total

      2. So, Blaine, the question is: Are you going to submit 28 times, or do an all-in=one?

      3. Blaine, can you confirm that for one the 3 common plural words, that when you appended together, in order, the postal abbreviations for state #'s 1,2,3,4 into a single 8-letter string, you were then amazed to see how few chuncks into which you had to divide it in order to re-arrange them into that plural word?

      4. Yes, that was a spectacular discovery you made

      5. Used a 330k word dictionary. The 1.6mm dictionary probably contains a lot of uncommon words. My 14 word screen was words that I have uttered in 63 years or that I can imagine using in a sentence. Toothless anteaters are not among those. Got up to 41 words that I could Google from page 1 of 3. Learned a lot about botany and entomology. Two more pages of results to analyze, but there are way more answers than states if you go uncommon. So many words, yet so few "answers". How does one answer this puzzle?

    25. I've spent too much time on this. Have a good week folks

    26. Here is a common eight-letter word made up of four postal codes for states NOT contiguous but also NOT mixed up: MAINLAND

      1. Some time ago, I devised some mnemonic aids with which to remember the names of the state capitals. To remember the 4 state capitals beginning with B, my thought process went "B > the insect bee > bees make honey > 'land flowing with milk and honey' > milk > milkmaids > the land of those maids >>> B > MAIDLAND

        So the 4 state capitals beginning with B are Boston MA, Boise ID, Baton Rouge LA, and Bismark ND!

    27. I wrote a little program that found 24 words. About 7 of them are quite common. HARD to know the intended answer.

    28. Today’s puzzle -- on air.

      One answer was PIECE of paper, PIECE of cake.

      An alternate answer is SHEET of paper, SHEET of cake.

      1. Let's keep the PIECE. We don't want no SHEET.

      2. I know what a sheet cake is, but what's a sheet of cake?

      3. Maybe when someone celebrates their birthday in bed.

      4. Also, Will rejected "piece of mind." I wish I had been there to give him a piece of my mind.

      5. I have been asked, when throwing large parties and events, if I would like to purchase one or two sheets of cake, in addition to a tiered cake.

        More importantly, I sent it into Lord PuzzleMaster as an alternate answer and he wrote back:

        I didn’t think of that.
        Thanks, Ben.

        So it's a go.

    29. My antipathy to anagrams kicked in strongly with this challenge for some reason, so I have only been reading the posts here.
      My equal dislike for Will's giving short-shrift to alternative answers over the years is no secret.
      This week seems to be a bonanza for such, over the top even.
      After reading about the author of the puzzle, I am thinking some misunderstanding will have to be resolved.
      Search his name.

      1. If the dozens of answers claimed so far are correct, then the guy described in this article (copy and paste) seems very unlikely to have submitted it.

      2. Or maybe he just didn't think it through. He and Will are buddies and he has submitted puzzles before.

    30. I looked him up as you suggested. based upon his background, I'm not even close to being in his ballpark. The only analogy I can think of is to wish you all happiness and if not to suggest Lexipro since I happen to be a retired shrink.

      1. Clark, I agree with you fully on your assessment of this annoying puzzle, but as to your solution to our predicament, wouldn't suicide be a more permanent solution?

      2. I found a very interesting.article about the author of this puzzle.

      3. SDB, Suicide has been defined as a very permanent solution to a temporary problem

      4. I think it was popularized by William Shakespeare.

      5. Ssurprised that Will and Derrick thought they could stare at a map and conclude that there was only one answer when there are so many permutations. Would have thought that Derrick would have been more analytical and written a program. Neighboring state lists abound and then you just need to "connect the dots".

      6. Spot on. No way Derrick, a math professor, ought to look at a US map, knowing even a little programming, and proclaim only one answer. Please dig a little deeper, Dr. π.

    31. Reminds me of a GAMES MAGAZINE contest. No matter how well you answer, someone has one better.

    32. I finally got an answer that works with a common word.

    33. So, what is the analogue of this question that has the longest reasonable solution? With or without repeating a state?

      1. I've got a seven state solution. The plural of which you need to enter the country.

    34. I woke up early this AM after a dream and there before my mind's eye was an eight letter common word. Working backwards, I got the states. Sometimes I don't know how my head works. Some weeks ago, WW told me to let go and back off if a puzzle was a tough one. But what happened this AM is a bit much!!!

      1. Did you wake up in the same home in which you fell asleep? Or were you four states away and holding car keys?

      2. I am not saying this is what you experienced, but I do know it is possible you were provided with the solution by one of your spirit guides. You know, the ones you don't believe exist.

      3. My spirit guide did exist and is now a spirit...Sigmund Freud!

      4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      5. It goes back to your previous posts even prior to this week.

      6. sdb: I think mine is on vacation lately. I think sometimes the brain works on things like a computer and then spits out the answer at a later time.

      7. Natasha,
        I do not know for certain, but I do not believe the brain thinks. I believe the brain is simply the organ that allows us to think while we are in the physical body. I wish the scientific community would pay more attention to the evidence that points in this direction, instead of spending so much energy in defending the popular understandings which frequently have no evidence to back them up. Being closed minded is never in our best interest.

      8. SDB: Too bad you are not research person to look into the matter. I feel the same way, that the brain thinks.
        Do you read when you dream? I read interesting books and papers but do not recall them in the morning. New phenomenon for me.

      9. That is very interesting. I have not heard of this phenomenon before. I suspect you are out of your physical body when you are doing this and that your brain is not involved.

      10. SDB: Oh, I did not this was not common for dreams. I may keep a tablet nearby to record what I have read, if possible. The print is sometimes like it is magnified and large font. I have travel out of body before and seen things as they were happening in places far away. Verified them the next day. Strange.

      11. SDB: I did not know that it was unusual to have "reading" dreams. I left out Know. Should proof.

      12. I just googled it and most say it is impossible. I love that kind of nonsense by people who think they know about something they know nothing about. Others said they could read while dreaming. I suspect they are asleep and out of body and somehow reading, but I am only guessing. I would like to know more about it from people who experience it.

      13. SDB: I only know what I experience. Maybe I will be able to write down what I am reading and that may help clarify a bit. I do know that when I have space traveled I saw things things that I would never have know about in any other way. No one seems interested in explaining what this is all about. I just live with it and feel "special". It is so amazing to do these things.

      14. Natasha,
        I don't know much about the space traveling, but I have known about it. I would love to learn more about it. I do remember an older woman telling a group I attended about finding herself very far out in space and finding it fascinating, but then stopped by an entity who asked: "What are you doing way out here?" She was then directed back to her body. I wish more people would open up about their experiences. One who did was Lord Dowding who is responsible for preventing Hitler from invading England. His is an amazing story. He also was experiencing these kinds of things, but was open about them. Of course the public thought him nuts, but he considered getting this information made public was more important than his role in WWII. Shhhh! Don't tell jan.

      15. Sdb: wow, I need to read about him. Thks. I recall once floating above my bed near the ceiling. It was scary. I have not been in outer space. I just end up somewhere suddenly on earth.

      16. A Summer Bright and Terrible: Winston Churchill ... - Goodreads › book › show › 124618.A_Sum...
        A Summer Bright and Terrible: Winston Churchill, Lord Dowding, Radar, and the Impossible Triumph of the Battle of Britain · Get A Copy Friend Reviews Reader ...
        Rating: 4 · ‎62 votes

        This woman, I mentioned, described speeding out into space farther than we probably can imagine, and then being confronted and sent back, but gently. She was believable. And, BTW, I am very good at discerning who is a fraud and con artist. I do not understand why so many others do not see through their deceit.

      17. Do you have her name? I also read minds and get messages about future for people. All without asking. Just spontaneous. Have friends from ballet and nursing with similar abilities. Seems we pick up on each other automatically. We can identify others who are similar without asking.

      18. I have had flying dreams. So may be astral. Fun. That is why like to do leaps in ballet. Flying. Have a ftiend who is nurse and big administrator. She sees a lady ghost who lives in her victorian house. Her son sees her too.

    35. There's a 5 state path that makes a pretty reasonable word. And a 6 state path that makes a ... word that's in the dictionary. These involve 11 different states.

    36. ... And a path of 7 different states that makes a 14-letter word that's ... in the dictionary. Well I wouldn't use it, but Google gives it nearly 9 million hits.

      1. In my 6-state and 7-state solutions, if you start each of these two paths with the state that is the last alphabetically of all the states involved in both solutions, then the first five states, in order, are the same for both.

    37. The answer became obvious when I went to church.

      1. I believe we may have the same answer.

      2. One of my answers is churchy, too.

      3. I found a churchy one too, but didn't think it was 'common' I kept going and think I have WS's intended common answer now.

      4. Flagrant means obvious. A diocesan presides over a church diocese.

    38. <<< What is this icon that suddenly appeared in my search bar? How do I make it disappear?

      1. Change the profile photo on your Blogger profile?

      2. Haha.

        How do I get it to go away from the search bar?

      3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    39. Also wrote a program for this one and found 51 answers, at least several which I consider common.

      1. Also found several common 5-state words and even a common 7-state word-- although I must add that writing a program made this puzzle very "non-enigmatical" ;)

      2. We couldn't find a solution beyond 7 states, although we drove to 14.
        Perhaps the bloggers should consider • nondisarmament and continue to fight the good fight?

      3. DDX,
        I would agree, but please do not choose a mace as your weapon of choice so as not to upset the easily rattled Plantsmith.

      4. DDX, you clever little bastard! I thought you had actually slipped the 14-solution to 7 states into your last post - and, in fact, NONDISARMAMENT is obtainable with a journey through 7 states.

        Only NONDISARMAMENT has NO ENTRY in Wiktionary! It has DISARMAMENT, but not NONDISARMAMENT.

      5. I didn't say it was an answer. The blog spell check wasn't buying it either. I just used it in a sentence. And apparently the negative form of disarmament conveyed some meaning since I got some responses. We switched from nondisarmament to disarmament last week with the SALT extension.

      6. To use a double negative, the 7 state solutions can be non-nonenigmatically found in this forum. There is one real one. I was just rounding out the 3 possibilities.

      7. BTW, I am the father of the clever little bastard. CLB's are handy when you need one.

      8. And you are a CLB for noticing and reverse engineering.

      9. Talks like a word, walks like a word. Maybe it's a word?

    40. I have been roaming around my house, with my head in the clouds, thinking about this eight letter word. Happy to have finally arrived with a solution, without driving myself crazy.

      1. Poops. I keep second guessing my word. The spelling is not so common, and the hints here all point elsewhere. I actually am driving myself crazy with this puzzle. Which is great! It's a fun one this week.

    41. I was getting sick of monkeying around and almost gave up.

    42. Finally, I got the answer. I was beginning to conspicuously doubt my puzzle solving ability. Here's a hint: Red Skelton.

    43. This comment has been removed by the author.

      1. Don't recall removing the comment and don't recall what the comment was.

    44. I happen to enjoy a difficult puzzle. Well, at least if it is also presenting a nice reward at having solved it by employing (at $15 an hour) a little logic in the process. So, this one certainly meets the first requirement, but I am not exactly Basqueing in the effulgent warmth of the second. All I can really say about this puzzle is that it is well stated.

    45. Canadians are nothing but a bunch of stockey hicks.

    46. Replies
      1. I think you may have me confused with someone else. I am Mr. Spoonerism. Good mourning anyway.

    47. You may have noticed Dr. Fauci
      is becoming just a bit grouchy.
      ——So let's cut the gab,
      ——and now take the jab.
      It's only a little bit ouchy.

      And as to you violent men,
      if you really want normalcy then,
      ——cut out the crap,
      ——and take of the cap.
      and make America great again.

    48. I was struggling to do this in my head until I could finally sit in front of a computer and call up a map, and it was smooth sailing from there.

      1. Nice map. I did mine the old-fashioned way and wrote in the postal abbreviations.

    49. By Emi Loca.
      Amazing mace, how sweet the sound
      Of spraying dyed debris
      It does cause loss to those who hound,
      Does blind those tailing me.

      It's mace that I keep in my purse
      Where others would keep keys
      When strangers try to talk, converse
      I give my mace a squeeze!

      It's mace that all my stalkers fear
      The purple, burning foam
      How precious did that mace appear
      When I was followed home.

      This man, he claimed to know me well
      I doubted what he said
      So when he spoke, I gave him hell
      And now his eyes are red.

      Though some may call me paranoid
      I say, I've just begun
      All public contact I'll avoid
      ('Til I get my handgun!)

      Oh, pepper spray, how I praise thee!
      You keep men in their place
      Thank Jesus for small weaponry -
      Thank God's a-macing grace!

    50. Yes you keep men in their place.

    51. I'm imagining a 3-word headline tomorrow, with a structure, an answer to this puzzle, and a color.

      1. “...’tis a consummation / Devoutly to be wished.”

    52. Something tells me that the PuzzleMaster is holding on to at least ten variants already, including a five-state variant.

    53. Like others, I went back to the map and (more) quickly found another answer (that I’m sure is included in the variants noted above). In this one, the jumbling is less complex - no commingling of state postal codes - just switching the order of the 2 letters in 3 of them.

    54. Not very happy w my solution: Wiktionary calls the word "dated" ... but the time approaches so here goes.

      1. Hey, JeremyC, it took me until Tuesday, but I urge you to investigate my clue: Red Skelton.

      2. I got "takingly" (IL, KY, TN, GA) which at least a few others got. Then I stopped looking. Some of the answers are better ... clearly there were more than one possibility.

    55. O.k., here's another hint: A certain actor whose name has been referred to in the last few months has also given a "patriotic" screed on this subject.

    56. Referred to in this forum as a puzzle answer, that is.

    57. Do OILMEN eat LOMEIN in MOLINE? (IL, MO, NE)

      1. That doesn't sound AMORAL. Arkansas...well, you can figure it out

    58. After hitting my head against the wall since Sunday, the answer (or at least an answer) came to me. :-(

    59. ANIMATOR from Iowa (IA), Missouri (MO), Arkansas (AR), Tennessee (TN)

      FLAGRANT from Florida (FL), Georgia (GA),Arkansas (AR), Tennessee (TN)


      One of many possible answers, it seems, and I’m interested to see the other solutions and their clues’ explanations.

      My first clue: “could drive Blainevillians crazy” —> Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills, South Dakota

      My second clue: “1929, 1975, 2007, 2013, 2015” —> release years for various films titled “(The) Condemned”

      Third clue: The anagram of “condemns” I hinted at—“someone who’s been fooled”—was “conned ms.”

      Unknown’s anagrammatic “2-word phrase for the rectification of persons who have misbehaved” was “cons mend,” which further convinced me we had the same answer.

      I considered as a musical clue “the Beatles” (—>”Rocky Raccoon”—> ”Somewhere in the black mining [or is it ‘mountain’?] hills of Dakota…”) but thought better of it.

      1. Note also that "our" solution can be created from the other direction too, using MN in place of NM. We should get extra credit, no? Glad to hear you already got the call last year -- after 30 years you were more than entitled. BTW we ended up on a different thread yesterday due to my bad in replying to the wrong one. But Frost still had it right. -LT

        (PS Amazing number of indisputably common words I managed to miss, even using an anagrammer! Quite chagrining but a fitting illustration of the proficiency of Blainesvillians.)

      2. I completely missed the MN solution. I think that after I solved it quickly but then learned that there were multiple answers (what Will say about that?), I simply sat back to watch the verbal fur fly.

      3. It's also interesting how many of the common-word solutions (e.g. CONDEMNS, DIAMONDS, and a bunch more of ron's solutions) include SD and/or IA, which are also contained in the "amidst" example in the prompt. One wouldn't normally expect to see that, another feature that makes this week's puzzle somewhat anomalous. -LT

    61. CO, NE, SD, IA --> DIOCESAN

      《Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa》

      The letters can also be arranged to spell the proper noun OCEANIDS and the Portuguese word for cocaines or CODEINAS.

    62. FLAGRANT

    63. CO + NE + SD + MN -> CONDEMNS

      > A straight line between two state capitals is a little over 700 miles and goes through the four answer states.


      > I'm imagining a 3-word headline tomorrow, with a structure, an answer to this puzzle, and a color.

      I was hoping for "HOUSE CONDEMNS GREENE".

      1. So was I. Hence, the quote from Hamlet.

      2. CONDEMNS can go through either of two states: Minnesota (MN) or New Mexico (NM).

      3. So I've learned, ron, from Unknown.

      4. jan, HOUSE CONDEMNS GREENE was a delight.

    64. 1. North Dakota (ND) to South Dakota (SD) to Iowa (IA) to Missouri (MO) → NDSDIAMO → DIAMONDS. The “intended answer” ?

      2. South Dakota (SD) to Iowa (IA) to Missouri (MO) to Tennessee (TN) → SDIAMOTN → SAINTDOM

      3. South Dakota (SD) to Minnesota (MN) to Iowa (IA) to Missouri (MO) → SDMNIAMO → NOMADISM

      4. Illinois (IL) to Missouri (MO) to Arkansas (AR) to Mississippi (MS) → ILMOARMS → MORALISM

      5. South Dakota (SD) to Nebraska (NE) to Iowa (IA) to Minnesota (MN) → SDNEIAMN → SANDMINE

      6. South Dakota (SD) to Nebraska (NE) to Iowa (IA) to Missouri (MO) → SDNEIAMO → DOMAINES

      7. Idaho (ID) to Utah (UT) toColorado (CO) to Nebraska (NE) → IDUTCONE → EDUCTION

      8. Utah (UT) to Colorado (CO) to Nebraska (NE) to South Dakota (SD) → UTCONESD → CONTUSED

      9. Georgia (GA) to Tennessee (TN) to Kentucky (KY) to Illinois (IL) → GATNKYIL → TAKINGLY

      10. Louisiana (LA) to Arkansas (AR) to Missouri (MO) to Illinois (IL) → LAARMOIL → AMARILLO

    65. I wrote, “I am foggy on this one – just too many possibilities to check out.” Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana produce DIAPHONE, the noisemaker within a foghorn.

      1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      2. Rob: I liked your clue. I knew I had the correct answer when I read it.

      3. Oh, how nice. Yes, it's good to get that sort of confirmation from a hint that gives no one else a clue where to look.

    66. Here is what I submitted last Sunday, and a few additional notes at the end. For 4 states, I have a total of 54 words, of which at least 25 are common words.

      Submitted: We list solutions for 4, 5, 6, and 7 states. In each case, we give a word, followed by a sequence of distinct states so that one could drive from one to the next in the order given. A few words occur twice because there are paths between distinct (unordered) sets of states that give the same word. All words are in Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, and so are considered to be common words.

      Four states (27 path/word combos, 25 distinct words, 24 distinct paths):

      CONDEMNS, CO, NE, SD, MN (there are two paths to get this word)
      CONDEMNS, NM, CO, NE, SD (there are two paths to get this word)
      MADRONES, AR, MO, NE, SD (same path also gives RANSOMED)
      MAKIMONO, IA, MO, OK, NM (there are two paths to get this word)
      MAKIMONO, MN, IA, MO, OK (there are two paths to get this word)
      MONADISM, MO, IA, SD, MN (same path also gives NOMADISM)
      NOMADISM, MO, IA, SD, MN (same path also gives MONADISM)
      RANSOMED, AR, MO, NE, SD (same path also gives MADRONES)
      TANGRAMS, AR, MS, TN, GA (same path also gives TRANGAMS)
      TRANGAMS, AR, MS, TN, GA (same path also gives TANGRAMS)

      Five states (12 path/word combos, 10 distinct words, 10 distinct paths):

      DECISIONAL, CO, NE, SD, IA, IL (same path also gives LIDOCAINES)
      DEDUCTIONS, ID, UT, CO, NE, SD (same path also gives DISCOUNTED}
      DISCOUNTED, ID, UT, CO, NE, SD (Same path also gives DEDUCTIONS)
      DOMINANCES, CO, NE, IA, SD, MN (there are two paths to get this word)
      DOMINANCES, NM, CO, NE, IA, SD (there are two paths to get this word)
      LIDOCAINES, CO, NE, SD, IA, IL (same path also gives DECISIONAL)
      ORNAMENTAL, AL, AR, TN, MO, NE (there are two paths to get this word)
      ORNAMENTAL, LA, AR, TN, MO, NE (there are two paths to get this word)

      Six states:


      Seven states:


      The line above is the end of what I submitted. I also had, but did not submit, the following, because I could not find the words in MW Coll 11th--9 different words:

      AMIDONES, MO, IA, SD, NE (same path also gives DAIMONES and DOMAINES)
      CODEINAS, CO, NE, IA, SD (same path also gives DIOCESAN, listed above because DIOCESAN is in MW Coll 11th)
      DAIMONES, MO, IA, SD, NE (same path also gives AMIDONES and DOMAINES)
      MATRONAL, AL, TN, MO, AR (there are two paths to get this word)
      MATRONAL, TN, MO, AR, LA (there are two paths to get this word)
      MONECIAN, CO, NE, IA, MN (there are two paths to get this word)
      MONECIAN, NM, CO, NE, IA (there are two paths to get this word)

      After submitting, I found 20 more words for 4 states in the Collins Scrabble Words (2019) file:


      Bottom line, I found a total of 54 distinct words for 4 states. Some words come from more than one path; some paths give more than one word. E.g., IA, MO, NE, SD gives AMIDONES, DAIMONES, DOMAINES, NOMADIES, and NOMADISE.

      Additional words for 5 states:


      Additional words for 6 states:


      1. Very nice! And my wordlist, from Google ages ago, also did include NONDISARMAMENT. Additional words for 8 states: ADMINISTRATIONAL with 2 repeats and 3 path orders, plus MALADMINISTRATOR with a unique path but 1 repeat. Can't figger how to use any of those in a sentence ... except that I just did.

      2. Nicely done, FloridaGuy.
        And glad to hear some support for my prior "nondisarmement" post. This was fun, but Will has his work cut out for him. Can't wait for 8:42 EST.

    67. How about : ESKIMOAN and MIDCOUNT?

      1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      2. I myself looked up MIDCOUNT in Wiktionary asking myself "Why didn't Andy's anagram solver display MIDCOUNT?"

        The answer: Wiktionary does not recognize MIDCOUNT!

        It does recognize Eskimoan; but I just capitalized it for a good reason - it's a proper adjective.

        P.S.: I just re-did this post, and in so doing had to re-do all the tags and links, just to replace "proper noun" with "proper adjective".

      3. I knew “midcount” wasn’t in the usual dictionaries, but it’s easy to use in a sentence and does spell-check to “mid-count” on an iPhone. I also figured Eskimoan was a bit obscure so I kept on looking until I found “flagrant”

    68. What follows is pretty close to my submission, although my two "4th answers" and my 5th answer I had not figured out until AFTER I submitted to NPR. Also, my submission did NOT include NONDISARMAMENT.

      1st answer: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri ==> ND,SD,IA,MO ==> NDS, DIAMO ==> DIAMONDS
      2nd answer: Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa ==> TN,AR,MO,IA ==> ANIMATOR
      3rd answer: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas ==> FL,GA,TN,AR ==> FLAGRANT
      4th answer: Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama ==> MO,AR,TN,AL ==> MATRONAL
      4th answer: Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisianna ==> MO,TN,AR,LA ==> MATRONAL
      5th answer: Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota ==> CO,NE,IA,SD ==> CODEINAS or DIOCESAN or OCEANIDS or ODACINES or ONCAEIDS
      6th answer: Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska ==> ID,UT,CO,NE ==> EDUCTION
      7th answer: Deleawre, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiannapolis ==> DE,PA,OH,IN ==> DIAPHONE

      Common 10-letter words from journeys through 5 states:

      Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota ==> ID,UT,CO,NE,SD ==> DEDUCTIONS or DISCOUNTED

      Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota ==> UT,CO,NE,IA,SD ==> EDUCATIONS


      The following 14-letter word does NOT have an entry in Wiktionary, but without the NON prefix it does:

      South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee ==> SD,MN,IA,NE,MO,AR,TN ==> NONDISARMAMENT

      .. .N .. .. .. .. .. N
      .. .. .. .. .O .. .. O
      .. .. .. N. .. .. .. N
      .D .. .. .. .. .. .. D
      .. .. I. .. .. .. .. I
      S. .. .. .. .. .. .. S
      .. .. .A .. .. .. .. A
      .. .. .. .. .. .R .. R
      .. M. .. .. .. .. .. M
      .. .. .. .. .. A. .. A
      .. .. .. .. M. .. .. M
      .. .. .. .E .. .. .. E
      .. .. .. .. .. .. .N N
      .. .. .. .. .. .. T. T

    69. Wow, there really are several different answers. Mine was MOLESKIN: NE-KS-MO-IL.

    70. flagrant (FL=Florida, GA=Georgia, TN=Tennessee, AR=Arkansas) or diocesan (CO=Colorado, NE=Nebraska, SD=South Dakota, IA=Iowa)

    71. The real puzzle this week is how two clever people like Derrick Niederman and Will Shortz could think there was only one answer to this puzzle.

    72. Fun FLAGRANT Fact: 4, 16, 25, 27 -- 3 squares and a cube (see, e.g.,

    73. GALAVANT
      (uncommon spelling, I know)
      VA, TN, AL, GA

    74. This week's edition of Puzzleria! features four fantastic "Econfusions" forged by our friend ecoarchitect. They involve a TV theme song, something found in your house, fairy tale characters, and a puzzle that asks, "What's the past tense of Keanu?"
      Pssst!... We upload Puzzleria! tonight at Midnight PST (which means "the wee hours of Friday morning" for many of you).
      Our menus this week also include:
      * a Schpuzzle of the Week involving gases, passes, basses, ice and mice,
      * a green puzzle Slice (no, it's not mouldy!),
      * a Super Bowl halftime Dessert, and
      * seven riff-offs of this past week's NPR border-crossing challenge.
      All are welcome!
      Speaking of the NPR puzzle...
      I, after road-tripping through IA, SD, NE and CO submitted DIOCESAN, which was fitting because I toiled at a diocesan newspaper in Minnesota for 17 years. I had earlier come up with CAMEROON (another middle-America excursion) but rejected it on "No-Proper-Noun Grounds." Before that I ventured to the New England area and came up with the great word ACRIMONY, after tooling through Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York before, alas to my dismay, recalling that Connecticut's postal code is CT, not CO (sorry about that, Word Woman)!


    75. I submitted RANSOMED by navigating through AR, MO, NE, SD.

      My clue was when I wrote that Something tells me that the PuzzleMaster is holding on to at least ten variants already.

    76. I got FLAGRANT, also. As an answer, not...well, you know. My hint with Red Skelton was in reference to a bit that he did on the Pledge of Allegiance. Sort of a flag-rant. John Wayne had a more "patriotic" flag-rant.

    77. I wonder how the winner is selected. If just have a time and date for the lottery selection and the answer is one of the one's on Blaine's list,for example, would it be selected as the winner. Otherwise, they will have to go through lots of different answers to get the one they had in mind. So many possible correct answers.

    78. Didn't get the call, but this was my "answer".
      I'll follow up with raw data.

      I realized that if I kept messing around with it, I might forget to submit my answer. I'll post my raw data separately, but it looks a lot like other posts.

      I am only going to submit 8 answers, although I have scores more, some of which are arguably common.
      Perhaps the intended answer is nominate?

      galavant AL GA TN VA
      ransomed AR MO NE SD
      animator AR TN MO IA
      flagrant AR TN GA FL
      ornament AR TN MO NE
      condemns CO NE SD MN
      nominate IA NE MO TN
      diamonds MO IA SD ND

      All my answers, submitted or not are driveable.
      You can't drive from KY to MO without going through IL, but KY is not part of any of my answers.

      In fact, based on my research, KY-MO are the only non-drive contiguous states.
      You have to go through Cairo IL at the confluence of the OH & MS rivers.

      Interestingly, all of my state combinations touch the Mississippi River.
      Surprised that the coasts were so under-represented: New England, Upper Midwest and the West, except CO were no-shows.

      7 state solutions might include, depending on commonality:

    79. Semi-common words:
      moralism MS AR MO IL
      nonmetal AL TN MO NE
      Cameroon AR MO NE CO
      dioramas AR MO IA SD
      diocesan IA SD NE CO
      nomadism MO IA SD MN

    80. 4096 character data dump. 1 of 2?
      Duplicates exist because reverse paths were not excluded.

      AL TN MO IA alamonti
      IA MO TN AL alamonti
      IL MO IA SD alismoid
      MO IL IA SD alismoid
      SD IA MO IL alismoid
      SD IA IL MO alismoid
      IL MO AR LA amarillo
      LA AR MO IL amarillo
      MO IA SD MT amidmost
      MT SD IA MO amidmost
      AR MO NE CO cameroon coenamor
      CO NE MO AR cameroon coenamor
      CO NE SD MN condemns
      MN SD NE CO condemns
      NM CO NE SD condemns
      SD NE CO NM condemns
      SD NE CO UT contused ctenodus
      UT CO NE SD contused ctenodus
      MO IA SD ND diamonds
      ND SD IA MO diamonds
      DE PA OH IN diaphone
      IN OH PA DE diaphone
      CO NE IA SD codeinas diocesan
      CO NE SD IA codeinas diocesan
      IA SD NE CO codeinas diocesan
      SD IA NE CO codeinas diocesan
      IL IA NE SD disilane
      IL IA SD NE disilane
      NE SD IA IL disilane
      SD NE IA IL disilane
      ID UT CO NE eduction
      NE CO UT ID eduction
      MO NE CO NM encommon
      NM CO NE MO encommon
      AR MO NE IA eromania
      AR MO IA NE eromania
      IA NE MO AR eromania
      NE IA MO AR eromania
      AR TN GA FL flagrant
      FL GA TN AR flagrant
      AL GA TN VA galavant
      GA AL TN VA galavant
      VA TN GA AL galavant
      VA TN AL GA galavant
      AR MO IL IN limnoria
      IN IL MO AR limnoria

    81. Dump 2 of 2
      CA OR ID MT mactroid
      MT ID OR CA mactroid
      IA MO OK NM makimono
      MN IA MO OK makimono
      NM OK MO IA makimono
      OK MO IA MN makimono
      AR MO TN GA martagon
      GA TN MO AR martagon
      GA TN AR MO martagon
      MO AR TN GA martagon
      AL TN MO AR matronal
      AL TN AR MO matronal
      AR MO TN AL matronal
      LA AR MO TN matronal
      LA AR TN MO matronal
      MO AR TN AL matronal
      MO TN AR LA matronal
      TN MO AR LA matronal
      IA IL MO TN limation miltonia
      IL IA MO TN limation miltonia
      TN MO IA IL limation miltonia
      TN MO IL IA limation miltonia
      IL MO NE KS moleskin
      IL MO KS NE moleskin
      KS NE MO IL moleskin
      NE KS MO IL moleskin
      MN IA MO NE monamine
      MN IA NE MO monamine
      MO NE IA MN monamine
      NE MO IA MN monamine
      CO NE IA MN monecian
      IA NE CO NM monecian
      MN IA NE CO monecian
      NM CO NE IA monecian
      CO NE MO IA monoecia
      CO NE IA MO monoecia
      IA MO NE CO monoecia
      MO IA NE CO monoecia
      AR MO OK NM monomark
      MO AR OK NM monomark
      NM OK MO AR monomark
      NM OK AR MO monomark
      GA TN MO NE magneton montagne
      NE MO TN GA magneton montagne
      IA MO TN NC monactin montanic
      NC TN MO IA monactin montanic
      AL TN MO IL montilla
      IL MO TN AL montilla
      IL MO AR MS moralism
      MS AR MO IL moralism
      NE CO UT NM nocument
      NE CO NM UT nocument
      NM UT CO NE nocument
      UT NM CO NE nocument
      IA MO NE SD daimones nomadise
      IA SD NE MO daimones nomadise
      MO NE IA SD daimones nomadise
      MO NE SD IA daimones nomadise
      MO IA NE SD daimones nomadise
      MO IA SD NE daimones nomadise
      NE MO IA SD daimones nomadise
      NE SD IA MO daimones nomadise
      SD NE MO IA daimones nomadise
      SD NE IA MO daimones nomadise
      SD IA MO NE daimones nomadise
      SD IA NE MO daimones nomadise
      MN SD IA MO monadism nomadism
      MO IA SD MN monadism nomadism
      MO IA MN SD monadism nomadism
      SD MN IA MO monadism nomadism
      IA NE MO TN antinome nominate
      NE IA MO TN antinome nominate
      TN MO NE IA antinome nominate
      TN MO IA NE antinome nominate
      AL TN MO NE nonmetal
      NE MO TN AL nonmetal
      CO KS MO IA oomiacks
      IA MO KS CO oomiacks
      AR TN MO NE ornament
      NE MO AR TN ornament
      NE MO TN AR ornament
      TN AR MO NE ornament
      AR MO NE SD madrones ransomed
      SD NE MO AR madrones ransomed
      SD IA MO TN donatism saintdom
      TN MO IA SD donatism saintdom
      AR MO IA SD dioramas samaroid
      SD IA MO AR dioramas samaroid
      AL TN MS LA stallman
      LA MS AL TN stallman
      LA MS TN AL stallman
      TN AL MS LA stallman
      GA TN KY IL takingly
      IL KY TN GA takingly
      AR TN MO IA animator tamanoir
      IA MO AR TN animator tamanoir
      IA MO TN AR animator tamanoir
      TN AR MO IA animator tamanoir
      AR OK MO TN tankroom
      AR TN MO OK tankroom
      MO OK AR TN tankroom
      MO TN AR OK tankroom
      OK MO AR TN tankroom
      OK MO TN AR tankroom
      OK AR MO TN tankroom
      OK AR TN MO tankroom
      TN MO AR OK tankroom
      TN MO OK AR tankroom
      TN AR MO OK tankroom
      TN AR OK MO tankroom
      IA NE SD MT mediants sandmite
      MT SD NE IA mediants sandmite
      MT SD IA NE mediants sandmite
      NE IA SD MT mediants sandmite
      AR TN MO IL torminal
      IL MO AR TN torminal
      IL MO TN AR torminal
      TN AR MO IL torminal
      AR MS TN GA tangrams trangams
      GA TN MS AR tangrams trangams
      GA TN AR MS tangrams trangams
      MS AR TN GA tangrams trangams
      AR OK NM UT turkoman
      UT NM OK AR turkoman
      KS NE CO UT unsocket
      NE KS CO UT unsocket
      UT CO NE KS unsocket
      UT CO KS NE unsocket

    82. And the 7 state solutions are, if you consider them common or uncommon words. Please pardon my duplicates.

      • nondisarmament
      • nonenigmatical
      • documentations

      artnmoneiamnsd: ['nondisarmament']
      artnmoneiasdmn: ['nondisarmament']
      artnmonesdmnia: ['nondisarmament']
      artnmonesdiamn: ['nondisarmament']
      artnmoiamnsdne: ['nondisarmament']
      artnmoianesdmn: ['nondisarmament']
      ganctnmoneiail: ['nonenigmatical']
      ganctnmoiliane: ['nonenigmatical']
      iamnsdnemotnar: ['nondisarmament']
      iamnsdnemoartn: ['nondisarmament']
      ilianemotnganc: ['nonenigmatical']
      ilianemotnncga: ['nonenigmatical']
      mniasdnemotnar: ['nondisarmament']
      mniasdnemoartn: ['nondisarmament']
      mnsdneiamotnar: ['nondisarmament']
      mnsdneiamoartn: ['nondisarmament']
      mnsdianemotnar: ['nondisarmament']
      mnsdianemoartn: ['nondisarmament']
      ncgatnmoneiail: ['nonenigmatical']
      ncgatnmoiliane: ['nonenigmatical']
      neiailmotnganc: ['nonenigmatical']
      neiailmotnncga: ['nonenigmatical']
      nesdmniamotnar: ['nondisarmament']
      nesdmniamoartn: ['nondisarmament']
      sdmnianemotnar: ['nondisarmament']
      sdmnianemoartn: ['nondisarmament']
      tnmoiasdnecout: ['documentations']
      tnarmoneiamnsd: ['nondisarmament']
      tnarmoneiasdmn: ['nondisarmament']
      tnarmonesdmnia: ['nondisarmament']
      tnarmonesdiamn: ['nondisarmament']
      tnarmoiamnsdne: ['nondisarmament']
      tnarmoianesdmn: ['nondisarmament']
      utconesdiamotn: ['documentations']

    83. You can see why I didn't even begin to attempt this challenge.


    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.