Will Shortz

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two words. Drop a letter from the first word to name a category of things. And drop a letter from the second word to name something in that category.

Example: FURY STABLE --> FUR & SABLE

1. THREE POPULAR

2. MENTAL CROPPER

3. INSPECT MOUTH

4. STATUE MARINE

5. STOOL LOATHE

6. SPLICE STAGE

7. SHOVE PLUMP

8. DONG COLLIDE

9. BOAST CLUTTER

10. METAL LAUNCH

11. DRIVER TIMBER

12. GERM RUGBY

On-air challenge: Today I've brought a game of categories based on the word OSCAR. For each category I give, name something in it starting with each of the letters O-S-C-A-R. For example, if the category were "U.S. States," you might say Ohio, South Dakota, Colorado, Alabama, and Rhode Island. Any answer that works is OK, and you can give the answers in any order.

1. Things Seen in a Kitchen (other than food)

2. Ways to Say "Yes"

3. Islands

4. Parts of a Newspaper

On-air challenge: Every answer is a three-syllable word or name in which the middle syllable is accented and pronounced "sigh."

Ex. Sharp and clear-thinking --> INCISIVE

1. Matthew, John or Judas Iscariot

2. God of the sea, in Greek myth

3. Figure out, as a secret message

4. Music or dance performance that a parent might sit through

5. Making up one's mind

6. Not just throw trash away

7. Kind of trading that's illegal

8. Painful inflammation around joints

9. Front tooth

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some four-letter words. For each one, add one letter in front and one letter in back to complete a familiar six-letter word. No proper names are allowed, and you can't add an "s" or "d" at the end of a five-letter word to get the six-letter one.

Example: LANE --> PLANET

1. MOOT
2. HANG
3. WENT
4. NIGH
5. TREE
6. REFI
7. BRAD
8. AWES
9. ONTO
10. CRAW
11. ISLE
12. REST
13. PLAN
14. PONY
15. AFAR

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. Reverse the last two letters of the first word to get the second word.

Example: Aristocratic / Prestigious annual prize --> NOBLE, NOBEL

1. Squiggle over a Spanish "n" / Like a bathroom floor

2. Move along slowly / Thin pancake

3. Variety of grape for wine-making / Spotted horse

4. Something that's 90 degrees on a square / Heavenly figure

5. Bread-making need / Irish poet who wrote "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"

6. English county / More timid

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you three 5-letter words. You give me a fourth 5-letter word that can precede each of mine to complete a compound word or a familiar 2-word phrase.

For example: slide tower melon --> water (as in waterslide, water tower, watermelon)

On-air challenge: This is my annual "New Names in the News Quiz." I'll name some people and things you had probably never heard of until 2017 but that sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. You tell me who or what they are.

1. Doug Jones
2. Gal Gadot
3. Anthony Scaramucci
4. Jack Phillips
5. Emmerson Mnangagwa
6. Tom Steyer
7. Salvator Mundi

On-air answers:

On-air challenge: NPR stands for National Public Radio, of course. But the letters N-P-R are also the initials of "nail polish remover." I'm going to give you clues to some other three-word names and phrases whose initials stand for better-known things.

1. I.C.C. (Interstate Commerce Commission) — Basic purchase at Dairy Queen
2. S.L.R. (Single-Lens Reflex) — Waterway past Montreal and Quebec
3. N.F.L. (National Football League) — Principle that an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some words and phrases. Each one conceals the name of a world capital in left to right order, although not in consecutive letters. Every answer has exactly 5 letters.

Example: STOCK SYMBOL --> TOKYO
1. SERIOUSLY
2. PARTISAN
3. COCK-AND-BULL
4. HUMANOID
5. MINISKIRT
6. SOUTH AFRICA

Last week's challenge: The name of what vehicle, spelled backward, becomes phonetically a four-word phrase identifying another vehicle?

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. Reverse the last four letters of the answer to the first clue to get the word that answers the second clue.

Ex. Part of a flower / Flat dish --> PETAL, PLATE
1. Apportion / Coral island
2. Distress signal shot into the air / Wild, as an animal
3. Rugged / Many-headed serpent of myth
4. Nosy person / Implement for eating soup
5. Call the wrong telephone number / Lost
6. Fragility / Place to order a sandwich to go

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