Wordplay Anyone?

Apr 30, 2007

RAY: This was sent in by a fellow named Dan O'Leary. He came upon a common one-syllable, five-letter word recently that has the following unique property. When you remove the first letter, the remaining letters form a homophone of the original word, that is a word that sounds exactly the same. Replace the first letter, that is, put it back and remove the second letter and the result is yet another homophone of the original word. And the question is, what's the word?

Now I'm going to give you an example that doesn't work. Let's look at the five-letter word, 'wrack.' W-R-A-C-K, you know like to 'wrack with pain.' If I remove the first letter, I am left with a four-letter word, 'R-A-C-K.' As in, 'Holy cow, did you see the rack on that buck! It must have been a nine-pointer!' It's a perfect homophone. If you put the 'w' back, and remove the 'r,' instead, you're left with the word, 'wack,' which is a real word, it's just not a homophone of the other two words.

But there is, however, at least one word that Dan and we know of, which will yield two homophones if you remove either of the first two letters to make two, new four-letter words. The question is, what's the word?
TOM: I'll figure out the answer. Give me the first letter.

RAY: The first letter is S.

TOM: Uh S, yeah.

RAY: This is no time to be thinking about it, you should have been thinking about it all last week.

TOM: All right, I give up.

RAY: And the second letter is C, and the third letter is E, the fourth is N, and the fifth is T. SCENT.

TOM: Oh, it's good.

RAY: And you wind up with the word, sent, S-E-N-T.

TOM: Scent or sent.

RAY: Or C-E-N-T. Pretty good, eh? Who's our winner?

TOM: The winner this week is Claude Lowry from Greenwood, Indiana, and for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Claude is going to get a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at Car Talk.com, where he can get our CD chock full of calls about mothers and cars. The collection is called, "Maternal Combustion," and it's yours Claude, for being this week's puzzler winner. Congratulations, buddy.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter