I enter a lot of puzzle contests -- NPR Weekend Edition Sunday, of course, GAMES and Games World of Puzzles magazines, the Harper's cryptic and occasionally the Car Talk Puzzler. Their puzzles are frequently logic or logic/automotive types, but this one is a word puzzle that I've been (w)racking my brain over.
If you know the answer don't tell me, enter the contest.
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?