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Sunday Puzzle: In like a lion and out like lamb

Sunday Puzzle
Sunday Puzzle

On-air challenge: The saying goes that March comes in like a lion and goes out like lamb, so, our March 31 puzzle is going to go out like a lamb as well: it's all about words that become new words when you add a B at the end.

I'll give you a sentence with two blanks. Find a word that fits in the first blank, then add a B at the end to get the word that goes in the second blank.

For example, if I gave you the sentence "I was __ sad that I started to ___ uncontrollably," you'd give me the answers SO and SOB to fill in those blanks. "I was SO sad that I started to SOB uncontrollably".

  1. If you drive your ___ instead of walking, you won't burn a single ___. 
  2. My sister asked me to bring ___ some basil and rosemary from the ___ garden out back. 
  3. If you spill water on your book it might ___ the ___ on the back cover, making it impossible to read. 
  4. "___!" cried Captain ___, upon sighting Moby-Dick. 

Last week's challenge: Last week's challenge comes to us from Mae McAllister, from Bath, in the United Kingdom. As you may know, each chemical element can be represented by a one- or two-letter symbol. Hydrogen is H, helium is He, and so on. Mae points out that there are two commonly known elements whose names each can be spelled using three other element symbols. Name either one.

Challenge answer: IRON — Ir (iridium), O (oxygen), N (nitrogen) and SILVER — Si (silicon), Lv (livermorium), Er (erbium).

Winner: Eric Maixner of Appleton, Wisconsin

This week's challenge: In honor of women's history month, all our challenge contributors in March have been women. To close out the month, I have this related challenge.

The English language developed in a patriarchal society, so many words in our language were traditionally assumed to be male, and turned into female versions by adding a prefix or suffix. Waiter and waitress, comedian and comedienne — those are just two examples of the many stereotypically "male" words that become new "female words" by adding a suffix.

There is a common English word that works the opposite way. What is the common English word that is generally used to refer exclusively to women, but which becomes male when a two-letter suffix is added?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to the challenge, submit it here by Thursday, April 4th at 3 p.m. ET. Listeners whose answers are selected win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: include a phone number where we can reach you.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Greg Pliska
NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz has appeared on Weekend Edition Sunday since the program's start in 1987. He's also the crossword editor of The New York Times, the former editor of Games magazine, and the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (since 1978).