Not one, but two puzzles this week…..

1) What word is almost always pronounced incorrectly by radio presenters?

2) One for the meteorologists out there – if it is raining at midnight, what are the chances of the sun shining in 72 hours time?

As ever, please do NOT post your answers, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday.

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for theKindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USAhere). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.


  1. Yes, finally a puzzle that I got straight away. Got the 2nd one first which helped solve the first one (if you know what I mean?)

    1. I suspect a lot of people saw the trick question, and immediately think they’ve got it… when actually it’s a trick trick question.

    1. Well, you’re right in that for rain to fall, the season would have to be such that the ‘interesting’ answer would be possible. So let’s go for ‘very slim’, then, on the off chance that you’re in Longyearbyen or thereabouts and it’s one of the rare rainy midnights.

  2. I have no clue about the first riddle (must be a UK thing). As for the second, it depends whether you’re above the northern polar circle (or below the southern polar circle), and whether it’s summer or winter… 😉

    1. The answer to Q1 has nothing to do with the UK or any other location; at least if I’m right it doesn’t.

  3. It’s -6 degrees C in my garage. The fridge in there is set to +3 deg C.
    Why is it making a noise ? Is it running backwards ?

  4. The answer to question #2 might be trivial or not depending on the place of the Earth and the time of the year that you are in.

    For #1, I propose “Madeleine”, as in the college at Oxford University.

    1. There is no such thing. There is Magdalen College, Oxford, and Magdalene College, Cambridge. I have never heard of a Madeleine College

      Magdalen is pronounced “maudlin”, which many people get right because they’ve heard it once. Magdalene is pronounced the way it’s spelled, which many people get wrong because they’ve heard “maudlin” once

  5. By the way: this might be because I’m a linguistic professor, but I find it extremely aggravating when people try to mislead you by deliberately failing to use linguistic meta-reference markers that ought to be there. Please stop doing so.

    1. I’m not a linquistics professor, but the misuse of linquistics meta-reference markers pisses me off as well.
      Whatever the hell they are.

  6. Got fooled into thinking they were trivia questions, looked at the comments and saw how fast people solved them, read them again and was like ‘OH. Okay! :D’

    1. That’s exactly what happened to me. Went from “How should I know?” to “Duh!” after seeing the comments and re-reading the questions.

  7. Both very straight forward. Though the second entirely depends on how you interpret the question. It may seem like an obvious trick question, but if you take it quite literally, it’s quite different.

    1. Make you mind up, old boy. Up above this point of the answers at 9.26 you say:-

      “I suspect a lot of people saw the trick question, and immediately think they’ve got it… when actually it’s a trick trick question.”

      or is the “trick” that if you just read the questions as stated the answers are obvious?

    1. It’s not “pedants” that will argue it. Pedantry is preoccupation with irrelevant details. If it affects the answer, it’s not irrelevant.

      How’s that for pedantic?

  8. Both very obvious – to the posters on here who think there can be any discussion about the answers, you are so obviously wrong!

  9. I certainly hope the sun will always be shining, at least until I’m safely dead. If it’s shining on me is another question

    For Q1, I suppose there is only one answer that does not require information about where the radio presenters are, or where they are from, or which language they are speaking, so I think I have it

  10. There’s only one puzzle this week, the same one as last week: “Where’s the Friday Puzzle?”

    We need somethimg to think about, not questions that are solved before you’ve finished the blurb about not posting answers.

    And, in accordance with the request to say how long it took: It took me just as long as it took to read the questions, plus about 0.5 seconds thinking time.

  11. What if the radio presenters mispronounce the answer to no.1?
    It won’t be pronounced blahdyblah then.
    No2 has many answers, though I can see the one that will be posted on monday the sun always shines on me.

  12. 1. why “almost”? the inclusion of that word in the question makes no sense.

    2. there are 3 valid answers to this question, which contains 4 ambiguities that affect the answer.

  13. Well there’s one word they nearly always pronounce wrong and it annoys me no end. I’ve lost count of the number of emails I’ve sent to the BBC about it!

  14. One of those questions would work better if spoken, and the other has several possible different answers, depending on one’s point of view. Nice to see Richard back on ambiguous form 🙂

  15. Both could potentially be trick questions, although Q1 works best if read aloud and the answer to Q2 depends on starting time and either geography or physics (I suppose chemistry could come into it as well…)

    I got one possible answer for both almost immediately, especially as I’m familiar with a variation on Q1 where the key word is “spelled” rather than “pronounced”.

  16. Less time than it took to read the questions.

    By the way, the inclusion of rain to question 2 is a requirement and a disambiguation factor.

  17. There will most definitely be a discussion about question two.

    There are two completely valid and defensible answers depending on how you interpret parts of the question.

  18. that second problem is one solvable only by advanced stellar physics. is rain possible as close to 72 hours before the sun is extinguished?

    that first problem reminds me there is word often written backwards in comments to this blog

  19. I really have no clue about the first question. Maybe the fact that I have never heard english speaking radio is an issue here ?

  20. I don’t understand question one at all, no clue.

    Question two was trivial, although I can see the potential problem with the wording.

    1. I thought of that cartoon as well. There’s an xkcd for everything, isn’t there?

      Very fast, but there will definitely be debate over 2, with good reason. Unfortunately, anyone who disagrees with me will be wrong. 😉

  21. Here’s a harder puzzle for you (almost) :-
    If my pet spaniel is called Lucinda what are the chances of the sun shining in 72 hours?

  22. The riddles of both questions aside, there is one word which is nearly always mispronounced by radio and TV presenters alike (including BBC presenters & correspondents).

    That word is SIXTH, which will more often than not be pronounced SICKTH. If you can say SIX and the sound TH, their really is no excuse. The only people I have pronounce it correctly are the likes of Stephen Fry, John Humphries and maybe David Dimbleby.

  23. Finally two that I have figured out. The second one almost straight away. The first one after reading it a few times.

  24. Got the answers fairly quickly, assuming that the second question should have read “72 hours later” rather than “in 72 hours”

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