The Game of the Name


Really Difficult Puzzles


Every month, the Daily features a puzzle by Dylan Hicks. The first list of correct answers wins a year’s subscription to The Paris Review. (In the event that no one can get every answer, the list with the most correct responses will win.) Send an e-mail with your answers to [email protected]The deadline is Monday, August 1, when we’ll post the answers. Good luck! 

The answers to this month’s puzzle are surnames composed, either plainly or fancifully, of two words. Lots of people, of course, such as the installation artist Jessica Stockholder and the bandleader Benny Goodman, have phrasal surnames, but we’ve generally avoided names that are themselves compound words or common pairings. Several of the answers, then, form sensible if unusual phrases; others are of the word-salad type. The answers are simply the surnames, though each is attached to a notable figure, including two fictional characters. The clues consist of a parenthetical, usually just naming the field in which the person became most famous, followed by a two-word phrase roughly synonymous with the phrasal surname. (One clue uses an established hyphenated compound word, but that seems in keeping with the two-word rule.) So, if we had used one of the above rejects, the clue might go as follows:

(Clarinetist) Decent fellow

The answer would be “Goodman.” If you want to throw in a first name, feel free, but you won’t get extra points. 

In trying to turn surnames into phrases, our standards, in addition to being low, were phonetic, not orthographic. To stay in the jazz section, the clue “ember choo-choo” might lead to the answer “Coltrane,” even though few dictionaries endorse those spellings of coal or train (and, what’s more, those aren’t the kind of coals trains tend to haul). Note that this latitude lets us find homophony across languages. When a close synonym was handy, we grabbed it, but of course not every word has such a thing, so expect some of the clues to be more loosely suggestive. As Led Zeppelin noted, sometimes words have two meanings; we’ve chosen whichever definition seemed right at the time. We’ve been flexible, too, with parts of speech. A surname made up, in our stretchy way, of two nouns might be clued with an adjective and a noun. For example:

(PM) Ecclesiastical elevation

Could work for “Churchill.” Finally, all but two of the answer surnames have two syllables; in the trisyllabic exceptions, the first two syllables form the first word.

  1. (Gothic novelist) Cool precipice
  2. (Hal pal, for a while) Autumnal personnel
  3. (Composer) Tavern chat
  4. (General) Ignite flank
  5. (Conductor) Lone cuppa
  6. (Belle Epoque farceur) Otherworldly money
  7. (Brooklyn-born essayist) Squat head
  8. (R & B tenor) Econoline impurity
  9. (Stateswoman) Personal lug
  10. (Jazz collaborator) Vagabond trumpet
  11. (Short-story writer and novelist) Stride aptitude
  12. (Italian sculptor) Dude menagerie
  13. (Philosopher) Automotive siesta
  14. (Actor) Communist sepulchre
  15. (German Dadaist) Cardiac acreage
  16. (Novelist and short-story writer) Labial location
  17. (Celluloid swashbuckler) Equitable treasuries
  18. (Philosopher and polymath) Diurnal two-wheeler
  19. (Fictional optimist) Skillet luster
  20. (Father-and-son painters) Entire stem
  21. (Philosopher) Love? Nein.
  22. (English physician) Raven pit
  23. (Choreographer) Sly pork
  24. (Comedian) Strike rock
  25. (California novelist) Mug summons
  26. (Economist) Verdant stretch
  27. (Flautist) Impudent avenue
  28. (Novelist) Near gloom
  29. (Theologian) Joint rasp
  30. (President) Load further

Dylan Hicks is a writer and musician. His second novel, Amateurs, is out now from Coffee House Press. He contributes a monthly puzzle to the Daily.