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Sunday Puzzle: Rare Letter Swap


On-air challenge: The four rarest letters in English are J, Q, X, and Z — which together account for less than 1% of all use in the language. I'm going to give you some words. Change a single letter in each one to a J, Q, X, or Z to make a new word.

Example: MANOR --> MAJOR


Last week's challenge: Think of two famous singers with the same five-letter first name. Take the last name of one of these singers. Switch the second and third letters. Then advance the resulting first and third letters each to the next letter in the alphabet. The result will be the last name of the other singer. What singers are these?

Challenge answer: Billy Idol --> Billy Joel

Winner: Carlos (Charlie) Garcia from Richardson, Texas.

This week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Rachel Cole of Oakland, Calif. Name something grown in a garden. Change the second letter, and double the third letter, to get an adjective that describes this thing. What is it?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here by Thursday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. ET. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you.

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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).