Thursday, January 22, 2009

NPR Sunday Puzzle, Sun, Jan 18, 2009 - Solution

Last Sunday's puzzle on NPR's Weekend Edition was this:
Name an implement that might be in a kitchen drawer. It's a compound word. Add the letter S after each half of the compound, and you'll get two synonyms. What implement is it?
This one took me about an hour to work out: I started by thinking of various possible implements, but nothing seemed to work out.

Finally, I wondered how it could be that only after adding S to the parts would they become synonymous: it looked as if the addition of the S resulted in something other than regular plurals.

In this case adjectives, the answer being nutcracker, with the synonyms nuts and crackers.

The English language is replete with synonyms for crazy and a surprising number of them are also plural nouns. In addition to the two above, we have bananas, bats, bonkers and dingbats.

They are a gift to clue writers, because the part of speech is so ambiguous; as for example in these cryptic clues (both answers are four-letter words):
A lady made crackers
Many lost nuts

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