Problem of the Month
(February 2009)

One type of word play is to find a common phrase that describes a letter of the alphabet. For example, the phrase "first of all" describes the letter A, since A is the first letter of "all". Here are English phrases for all 26 letters:

A = first of allN = center of attention
B = fifth of bourbonO = second in command
C = first in commandP = front of the pack
D = end of the worldQ = front of the queue
E = beginning of the endR = center of inertia
F = first in flightS = start of something
G = middle of the nightT = middle of the century
H = middle of nowhereU = fourth of January
I = fifth of tequilaV = center of gravity
J = first of JanuaryW = end of the rainbow
K = back of the packX = a wax finish
L = first in lineY = fourth of July
(George Sicherman)
M = first of manyZ = led zeppelin

Can you improve any of these? What common English phrases can be used to describe the 262 different letter pairs? If you are not a native English speaker, perhaps you would prefer to find phrases in your language for each single letter.


ANSWERS

Here are the best known solutions:

ABC
AA = both sides of America
(Carl Ginnow)
BA = leader of the band
(Margie Hale)
CA = two fifths of a carat
AB = middle of the United Arab Emirates BB = in the middle of squabbling CB = heads of central banks
(Richard Sabey)
AC = middle of the pack BC = in the belly of a bobcat
(Stephen Perry)
CC = Catholic church leaders
(Richard Sabey)
AD = end of the road BD = both sides of Baghdad CD = both sides of Chad
AE = achievable ends
(Carl Ginnow)
BE = beginning of a beutiful friendship
(Bryce Herdt)
CE = end of the race
AF = beginning of the affair BF = sides of beef
(Clinton Weaver)
CF = both sides of Cardiff
(Stephen Perry)
AG = middle of the page
(Carl Ginnow)
BG = both sides of Beijing CG = end of campaigning
(Stephen Perry)
AH = middle of Oklahoma
(Carl Ginnow)
BH = both sides of Bangladesh CH = end of March
AI = inside straight
(Bryce Herdt)
BI = both sides of Brunei CI = beginning of civilization
AJ = middle of Baja
(Carl Ginnow)
BJ = tops of Bell Jars
(Toby Gottfried)
CJ = ?
AK = starting and ending an attack
(Carl Ginnow)
BK = book ends CK = back of the pack
AL = first of all BL = start of the blizzard CL = starting the clock
AM = end of the program BM = both sides of Belgium CM = ends of capitalism
(Stephen Perry)
AN = middle of Arkansas BN = both sides of Berlin CN = both sides of Cameroon
AO = middle of Laos BO = middle of Cambodia CO = first in command
AP = beginning of April BP = leaders of both parties
(Richard Sabey)
CP = camp outside
(Stephen Perry)
AQ = end of war in Iraq BQ = end of the BBQ
(Stephen Perry)
CQ = ?
AR = second and third of March BR = half bred
(Richard Sabey)
CR = some of the crowd
AS = couple of aspirin BS = both sides of Belarus CS = both sides of Cyprus
AT = both sides of the argument BT = both ends of the boat CT = second and third of October
AU = beginning of August BU = third of a bushel CU = two-thirds of a cup
AV = beginning of aviation BV = start of a bon voyage
(Bryan Boswell)
CV = ?
AW = finishing a jigsaw BW = in the middle of barbwire
(Stephen Perry)
CW = both ends of the cow
(Andrew Bayly)
AX = a wax finish BX = both ends of a box CX = on the outside of a callbox
(Stephen Perry)
AY = end of May BY = end of the lullaby CY = both sides of the country
AZ = middle of Brazil BZ = surrounding buzz
(Bryan Boswell)
CZ = beginning of the Czech Republic
(Stephen Perry)

DEF
DA = start of the day EA = middle of the year FA = beginning of the fall
DB = tallest in Dubai
(Clinton Weaver)
EB = second and third of February FB = leads off first base
(Clinton Weaver)
DC = both sides of the Dominican Republic EC = Center for Disease Control
(Clinton Weaver)
FC = heads of financial companies
(Richard Sabey)
DD = dead ends
(Bryce Herdt)
ED = middle of Sweden FD = both sides of Finland
DE = beginning of December EE = middle of the week FE = beginning of February
DF = both sides of Dusseldorf EF = starting efficiently FF = duplication of effort
DG = both sides of Danzig
(Stephen Perry)
EG = middle of Oregon FG = top and bottom of a figurine
DH = both sides of Dartmouth
(Stephen Perry)
EH = ends of the earth FH = edges of the footpath
DI = middle of Maldives EI = a third of eighty FI = start of the film
DJ = ? EJ = ? FJ = ?
DK = both sides of Denmark EK = end of the week FK = high points of the fireworks
DL = in the middle of cuddling EL = a third of eleven FL = first in flight
DM = both sides of a diagram
(Stephen Perry)
EM = middle of November FM = start and end of the film
DN = middle of Sydney EN = beginning of the end FN = ?
DO = half done EO = endless neon
(Dave Jones)
FO = middle of California
DP = Democratic party leaders
(Richard Sabey)
EP = sheep tails
(Richard Sabey)
FP = French political leaders
(Richard Sabey)
DQ = ? EQ = left side of the equation FQ = ?
DR = middle of Madrid ER = end of September FR = start of a friendship
(Clinton Weaver)
DS = both sides of Dallas ES = end of the movies FS = ending tariffs
(Clinton Weaver)
DT = both sides of Detroit ET = middle of Cape Town FT = both sides of Frankfurt
DU = middle of Honduras EU = third and fourth in the queue FU = two sevenths of a furlong
DV = in the belly of an aardvark EV = start of the event FV = ?
DW = ends in a draw
(Clinton Weaver)
EW = end of the review FW = leaders of the free world
(David Shenk)
DX = ? EX = end of the index FX = ?
DY = end of the brandy EY = end of the journey FY = first and eighth of February
(Clinton Weaver)
DZ = ? EZ = in the middle of freezing FZ = ?

GHI
GA = middle of Bulgaria HA = middle of Chad IA = both sides of Iowa
GB = Great Britain's leaders
(Michael Rios)
HB = center of a wishbone
(Clinton Weaver)
IB = end of the crib
GC = ? HC = ? IC = tip of the iceberg
(Michael Rios)
GD = middle of Bangdung HD = ? ID = both sides of Iceland
GE = both sides of Greece HE = left half of the head IE = end of the movie
GF = ? HF = middle of a flash flood
(Clinton Weaver)
IF = if and only if
GG = bottom of the gauge
(Clinton Weaver)
HG = both sides of Hong Kong IG = rear of a pig
(Clinton Weaver)
GH = rough finish HH = ? IH = ?
GI = middle of Virginia HI = middle of Ohio II = in the middle of skiing
GJ = ? HJ = ? IJ = middle of Fiji
GK = middle of Hong Kong HK = middle of North Korea IK = ?
GL = starts to get lucky
(Richard Sabey)
HL = in the middle of marshlands
(Toby Gottfried)
IL = end of April
GM = starts to get mad
(Richard Sabey)
HM = Her Majesty's crowns
(Michael Rios)
IM = middle of Lima
GN = both sides of Gabon HN = both sides of Houston IN = half inch
(Richard Sabey)
GO = middle of Angola HO = half hour
(Richard Sabey)
IO = middle of Ethiopia
GP = Green party leaders
(Richard Sabey)
HP = ? IP = end of the quip
GQ = grotesque bottom HQ = ? IQ = both sides of Iraq
GR = half a gram HR = middle of Tehran IR = middle of West Virginia
GS = end of the songs HS = both sides of Honduras IS = middle of Pakistan
GT = ? HT = end of the fortnight IT = all of it
GU = middle of August HU = beginning of the hurricane IU = ?
GV = ? HV = ? IV = four out of five
(Andrew Bayly)
GW = starts to get wild
(Richard Sabey)
HW = ? IW = middle of Taiwan
GX = ? HX = ? IX = end of the phoenix
GY = end of the eulogy
(Dave Jones)
HY = both sides of Hungary IY = ?
GZ = in the middle of a zigzag HZ = ? IZ = end of the quiz

JKL
JA = beginning of January KA = middle of Ankara LA = middle of Poland
JB = ? KB = ? LB = ?
JC = ? KC = ? LC = in the middle of Roll Call
(Toby Gottfried)
JD = ? KD = high points of skydiving LD = end of the world
JE = front of the jet KE = last half of a cake
(Clinton Weaver)
LE = loose ends
(Clinton Weaver)
JF = ? KF = ? LF = finishes itself
(Dave Jones)
JG = low parts of the jungle KG = ? LG = both sides of Luxembourg
JH = ? KH = middle of Kazakhstan LH = hollow laugh
(Kathryn Friedlander)
JI = ? KI = two of a kind
(Bryce Herdt)
LI = half-life
(Richard Sabey)
JJ = ? KJ = ? LJ = ?
JK = ? KK = high points of karaoke LK = last of the milk
(Dave Jones)
JL = ? KL = highest part of an ankle LL = end of the fall
JM = ? KM = ? LM = end of the film
JN = both ends of Japan KN = heart of darkness LN = both sides of London
JO = start of the job KO = both sides of Kosovo LO = half a loaf
(Bryce Herdt)
JP = Jewish political leaders
(Richard Sabey)
KP = ? LP = Labour party leaders
(Richard Sabey)
JQ = ? KQ = ? LQ = ?
JR = first and sixth of January
(Clinton Weaver)
KR = ? LR = in the belly of a walrus
JS = ? KS = both sides of Kansas LS = both sides of Los Angeles
JT = both ends of the jet KT = both sides of Kuwait LT = first and last on the list
JU = beginning of June KU = ? LU = beginning of a lump
JV = ? KV = ? LV = middle of El Salvador
JW = ? KW = ? LW = ?
JX = ? KX = ? LX = ?
JY = lowest forms of jealousy KY = both sides of Kentucky LY = end of July
JZ = ? KZ = ? LZ = ?

MNO
MA = first of many
(Kevin Stone)
NA = middle of Panama OA = middle of the road
MB = middle of Luxembourg NB = ? OB = fourth and fifth of October
MC = ? NC = North Carolina primaries
(Richard Sabey)
OC = beginning of October
MD = both sides of Maryland ND = middle of London OD = end of childhood
ME = end of time NE = end of the line OE = ?
MF = middle of Stamford
(Toby Gottfried)
NF = ? OF = soft center
(Dave Jones)
MG = ? NG = heart of the jungle OG = middle of Togo
MH = beginning and ending of the month
(Toby Gottfried)
NH = New Hampshire primaries
(Richard Sabey)
OH = middle of Yokohama
MI = half a mile NI = middle of the Solomon Islands OI = a few seconds of your time
(Bryce Herdt)
MJ = ? NJ = New Jersey primaries
(Richard Sabey)
OJ = ?
MK = ? NK = both sides of New York OK = end of the book
ML = both sides of Montreal NL = ? OL = heart of gold
(Bryce Herdt)
MM = third and fourth in command NM = New Mexico primaries OM = middle of Colombia
MN = both sides of Michigan NN = tennis doubles ON = no turning back
(Andrew Bayly)
MO = beginning of the month NO = beginning of November OO = middle of the room
MP = middle of New Hampshire NP = Nationalist party leaders
(Richard Sabey)
OP = start of the opera
MQ = ? NQ = ? OQ = ?
MR = both ends of Madagascar NR = both ends of Niger OR = middle of Colorado
MS = both sides of Massachusetts NS = last of the Mohicans OS = ?
MT = ? NT = end of the event OT = end of the foot
MU = start of the music NU = third and fourth of January OU = two fifths of an ounce
MV = the odds of a Move
(Toby Gottfried)
NV = first and third of November
(Clinton Weaver)
OV = second and third of November
MW = both sides of Moscow NW = ? OW = end of the rainbow
MX = heartless minx
(Dave Jones)
NX = ? OX = fox's tail
(George Sicherman)
MY = both sides of Mexico City NY = a shiny finish OY = ?
MZ = ? NZ = leaders of New Zealand
(Clinton Weaver)
OZ = ?

PQR
PA = beginning of the party QA = first and third quarters
(Richard Sabey)
RA = start of the race
PB = ? QB = tallest in Quebec
(Clinton Weaver)
RB = middle of Serbia
PC = Protestant church leaders
(Richard Sabey)
QC = both sides of Quebec
(Richard Sabey)
RC = Roman catholic leaders
(Richard Sabey)
PD = both sides of Poland QD = both sides of the quicksand RD = end of the blizzard
PE = some of the people
(Mensanator)
QE = first and last in the queue RE = middle of the screen
PF = ? QF = ? RF = end of the scarf
(Dave Jones)
PG = picking sides
(Clinton Weaver)
QG = squirming bottom RG = end of the iceberg
(Bryan Boswell)
PH = start of a phase QH = ? RH = both sides of Riyadh
PI = half a pint
(Richard Heathfield)
QI = ? RI = Rhode Island primaries
(Richard Sabey)
PJ = lowest points of the projectile QJ = ? RJ = leads in Romeo and Juliet
(Clinton Weaver)
PK = both ends of a pitchfork QK = ? RK = middle of Turkey
PL = both sides of Portugal QL = ? RL = middle of Berlin
PM = leaders of political movements QM = ? RM = end of the arm
PN = both sides of Pakistan QN = both sides of the question RN = in the middle of the afternoons
PO = two fifths of a pound QO = ? RO = beginning of the road
PP = leaders of political parties
(Richard Sabey)
QP = ? RP = sharp end
(Andrew Bayly)
PQ = ? QQ = ? RQ = ?
PR = beginning of the program QR = both sides of Qatar RR = mirror double
(Bryce Herdt)
PS = both sides of Paris QS = both sides of the quilts RS = end of the glaciers
PT = outer layer of paint
(Bryce Herdt)
QT = around a quart
(Clinton Weaver)
RT = end of the concert
PU = beginning of puberty QU = beginning of the queue RU = middle of February
PV = ? QV = ? RV = the heart of the central nervous system
(Toby Gottfried)
PW = ? QW = ? RW = middle of Norway
PX = ? QX = ? RX = ?
PY = happy ending
(Clinton Weaver)
QY = bottom of the quarry RY = end of January
PZ = ? QZ = ? RZ = ?

STU
SA = both sides of Serbia TA = middle of Utah UA = middle of Guam
SB = ? TB = middle of the textbook UB = middle of Cuba
SC = middle of Moscow TC = center of the postcard UC = faucet in the middle
SD = South Dakota primaries TD = both ends of Thailand UD = end of a feud
SE = end of the universe TE = end note
(Bryce Herdt)
UE = last in the queue
SF = ? TF = center of the platform UF = university faculty heads
(Richard Sabey)
SG = in the middle of Thanksgiving
(Toby Gottfried)
TG = leaders of the government
(Richard Sabey)
UG = second and third of August
SH = start of the show TH = end of the earth UH = both sides of Utah
SI = two thirds of six TI = half-time
(Richard Sabey)
UI = ?
SJ = ? TJ = inside a straitjacket UJ = ?
SK = end of the desk TK = the high points of waterskiing UK = the middle of Hanukkah
(Toby Gottfried)
SL = both sides of Senegal TL = middle of Saint Lucia UL = middle of July
SM = start of a smile TM = ? UM = both sides of the United Kingdom
SN = both sides of Spain TN = both sides of town UN = middle of June
SO = start of something TO = photo finish
(John Hood)
UO = ?
SP = beginning of spring TP = leads in the play
(Clinton Weaver)
UP = start of the upheaval
SQ = a fifth of a square mile TQ = ? UQ = ?
SR = both ends of Salvador TR = start of a trip
(Clinton Weaver)
UR = end of the hour
SS = business end
(Bryce Herdt)
TS = both sides of Texas US = back of the bus
(Clinton Weaver)
ST = split ends TT = heart of the matter
(Bryce Herdt)
UT = middle of Bhutan
SU = beginning of summer TU = middle of Kentucky UU = W
(Richard Sabey)
SV = ? TV = middle of Latvia UV = ?
SW = middle of Botswana TW = a third of twelve UW = ?
SX = ? TX = ? UX = ?
SY = both sides of the story TY = end of eternity UY = both sides of Uruguay
SZ = odd size
(Bryan Boswell)
TZ = end of a blitz
(Clinton Weaver)
UZ = ?

VWX
VA = middle of Slovakia WA = middle of Hawaii XA = in the middle of the exam
VB = Verb endings
(Toby Gottfried)
WB = strawberry filling
(Dave Jones)
XB = ?
VC = ? WC = ? XC = ?
VD = ? WD = around the world
(Jean-Charles Meyrignac)
XD = ?
VE = middle of Slovenia WE = beginning of the week XE = ?
VF = ? WF = the head and tail of a wolf
(Toby Gottfried)
XF = ?
VG = ? WG = both sides of Wyoming XG = ?
VH = ? WH = left side of the whiteboard XH = ?
VI = start of the video WI = beginning of winter XI = middle of Mexico
VJ = ? WJ = ? XJ = ?
VK = ? WK = beginning and ending of the week XK = ?
VL = ? WL = edges of the wheel XL = ?
VM = both ends of Vietnam WM = both ends of a worm XM = ?
VN = start and end of the vacation WN = both sides of Washington XN = ?
VO = start of the voyage WO = women without men
(Andrew Bayly)
XO = turning an ox around
VP = ? WP = ? XP = ?
VQ = ? WQ = ? XQ = ?
VR = ? WR = start of the wreck XR = ?
VS = empty vessels
(John Hood)
WS = ? XS = ?
VT = both sides of Vermont WT = ? XT = end of the text
VU = both sides of Vanuatu WU = ? XU = ?
VV = ? WV = West Virginia primaries XV = ?
VW = view outside WW = both sides of the window XW = ?
VX = ? WX = ? XX = Xerox copies
VY = both sides of Vatican City WY = showy finish
(Dave Jones)
XY = waxy finish
VZ = ? WZ = ? XZ = ?

YZ
YA = middle of Guyana ZA = middle of Tanzania
YB = ? ZB = ?
YC = middle of the Ivory Coast ZC = ?
YD = ? ZD = ?
YE = half year
(Richard Sabey)
ZE = led zeppelin
YF = ? ZF = ?
YG = low points of flying ZG = ?
YH = ? ZH = ?
YI = ? ZI = beginning of a zit
YJ = ? ZJ = ?
YK = ? ZK = ?
YL = middle of Maryland ZL = ?
YM = ? ZM = ?
YN = both sides of Yemen ZN = ?
YO = beginning of youth ZO = start of zoology
YP = bottom of the crypt ZP = ?
YQ = ? ZQ = ?
YR = the beginning and ending of the year
(Toby Gottfried)
ZR = ?
YS = end of days
(Dave Jones)
ZS = ?
YT = ? ZT = ?
YU = ? ZU = ?
YV = ? ZV = ?
YW = ? ZW = ?
YX = ? ZX = ?
YY = bottom of the mystery ZY = ending up crazy
YZ = middle of Kyrgyzstan ZZ = in the middle of a blizzard


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