A Crash Course In
Crosswordese

Crosswordese

The crossword community usually uses the term crosswordese to refer to...

Words that appear frequently in crosswords, but not in everyday life.

This includes words like ETUI (an ornamental case) and ELAND (a type of antelope), that you need to learn especially to solve crosswords, simply because they turn up a lot.

But I'm going to use a slightly more general meaning. For me, crosswordese is going to refer to...

The language of crosswords.

The reason I extend the definition is that not only will you need to learn words you are unlikely to encounter in the real world very often, but you will also frequently encounter unexpected meanings of words you already know.

We all know the word ERA, for example. But not everybody knows that this sequence of letters is also an acronym for Earned Run Average - a statistic used in baseball. Knowing the everyday meaning of this word will help you solve the clue [History segment], but you'll be left high and dry when faced with the clue [Diamond stat.] ;-)

In other words, to become fluent in crosswordese, you not only need to learn a bunch of unusual words, you also need to familiarize yourself with lots of unusual clues to perfectly common-looking words.

I've put together this page as a stepping stone to ease you into the world of crosswordese. What I've done here is collect 50 of the most frequently occurring answers appearing in American newspaper crosswords (these are often called repeaters ) and presented them in a way that should help you master crosswordese effectively.

First I list the word, and following it, I list a variety of ways that word might be clued in a typical crossword puzzle. Your job is to learn the word (often a common one) and understand all the clues (often not so common) that lead to that word. If you don't understand a clue, you may need to do some research...

To research a word or clue, I recommend you...

  • search for unexpected synonyms using a good quality word finder (the one I use is WordWebPro ), or
  • do a search in Wikipedia, if the clue seems to require an piece of general knowledge you just don't have.

The whole process will not only get you speaking crosswordese sooner, but you'll learn lots of interesting trivia along the way.

ERA
History segment
Time worth remembering
Pitcher's stat.
Oft-nicknamed period
Diamond stat.
Time piece
AREA
Metropolitan ___
Nonsmoking ___
Field of study
Neck of the woods
Gazetteer figure
Geometrical finding
Bailiwick
Word with surface or disaster
It may have a code
Side by side?
It may be gray
'Hood
ERE
Before, poetically
Bard's before
Poet's preposition
"___ Time transfigured me": Yeats
Before, before
It may appear before long
ERIE
Toledo's lake
Great Lake touching four states
Weird-sounding lake
Niagara's source
War of 1812 siege site
Iroquois foe
Buffalo water
ORE
Valuable rocks
Bauxite or magnetite
Something to slag
It's found in veins
Swedish coins
It might be found in a rush
ELI
Pharmaceutical giant ___ Lilly
Yale student
Harvadite's rival
Letter "Y" wearer
Bush or Taft
Descendant of Aaron, in the Bible
ONE
Last number in countdown
Digit in binary code
No longer divided
Wedded
Simple ticket order
Next to nothing?
ALE
Relative of beer
It might help wash down a banger
Bass, for one
Old Foghorn, e.g.
Lead-in for house or wife
Schooner's contents, maybe
ALI
Muhammad ___
2001 role for Will Smith
Clay, now
Foreman's superior
Poetic pugilist
His won-lost record was 56-5
ARE
"___ we there yet?"
Exist
"You ___ There" (50's TV show)
Is for two
Cost
Be a different way?
EDEN
Adam and Eve locale
East of ___
Churchill's successor
Barbara who played a genie
Scene of a fall
Place of bliss
Paradise lost
Perfect plot
ETA
When the pilot is due in, for short
Greek H
Hellenic vowel
___ Pi (dessert lover's fraternity?)
Viscosity symbol, in physics
Touchdown info
ANTE
Card player's stake
Prefix with chamber
Pot starter
Pay to play
Vide ____ (see before, in Latin)
Buy in
Part of a.m.
Deal preceder
Cash on hand?
Table center piece?
Stud fee?
ATE
Had a meal
Supped
Put away
Took the cake?
Had a little lamb
Came to a fast stop
ALOE
____ vera
Healing balm
African lily
Tissue additive
Yucca plant cousin
Cure for being caught red-handed?
ARIA
Song in an opera house
Met melody
Song that's often in a foreign language
Diva delivery
"Celeste Aida," e.g.
High-culture strains
Operatic offering
Air on stage
Unlikely number for a rock concert
Number for one
OLE
Spanish cheer
Grand ___ Opry
___ Miss
Hurrah for El Farruco
Motivation for Manolete
ENE
Opposite WSW
Ethyl finish
Cincinnati-to-New York dir.
Wind dir.
67.5 degrees
Hydrocarbon suffix
ERR
Goof up
Be off
Be human?
ESS
Feminine suffix
Twisty turn
Scrabble 1-pointer
Symbol on a cape
Biggest section in a dictionary
Surreal beginning?
ALA
Cookbook phrase
___ grecque
One of the states seen from Lookout Mtn.
Like
IDEA
Notion
"What's the big ___?"
Something to think about
It may be half-baked
It may be bright
What a germ may become
Coconut yield?
SPA
Health club
Belgian resort town
Baden-Baden, for one
Place for sweaters?
ASH
Cinder
___ Wednesday
Hair color
Hardwood
OREO
Nabisco cookie
It may get a licking after dinner
Dunkable treat
Hydrox look-alike
Snack since 1912
IRE
Anger
High dudgeon
E.U. member
IRA
Lyricist Gershwin
Belfast grp.
Money for senior yrs.
Glass of public radio
ELSE
Otherwise
"What ___?"
G. & S.'s Lord High Everything ___
End of a warning
Choice word
It may follow something
NEE
Originally
Jacqeline Onassis ___ Bouvier
Word in alumni notes
Born, in Bordeaux
ADO
Fuss
Much ___ about nothing
Flap
ESE
180 degrees from WNW
Language suffix
Chicago-to-Pittsburgh dir.
Legal ending
EAR
Inner ___
Prominent part of a dachshund
Musical gift
Audiologist's concern
Where the utricle is
ODE
Praiseful poem
Alexander Pope's "Solitude," e.g.
Sapphic work
"___ on a Grecian Urn"
END
Finis
T formation participant
Omega
ARI
Mr. Onassis
Agent Gold of HBO's "Entourage"
Actress Meyers
"Exodus" hero
Uris hero
SEE
"Comprende?"
Match
Date
Religious purview
ACE
Virtuoso
Star pitcher
Excellent service
The Red Baron, e.g.
Most valuable diamond
OLEO
Margarine
Muffin topper
Spread out on a table?
Pat on the buns?
It's sold in bars
Promise output
ANT
Member of a colony
Symbol of industry
Antenna holder
Grasshopper's teacher,in Aesop
"The Atom ___ Show" (1960's TV cartoon)
ARENA
Sports stadium
Play area
"In the ___" (Nixon book)
Fan setting
It often has a ring in the middle
Bowl
EGO
Companion of the id
Freud subject
First person in ancient Rome
Amour-propre
APE
Mimic
Siamang, for one
Ursine : bear :: pithecan : ____
Aldous Huxley's "___ and Essence"
EEL
Slippery one
Lamprey ____
Unagi, at a sushi bar
Grig, when grown
ASEA
Far from land
On a cruise
Totally confused
Fishing, perhaps
Between ports
"...arms against ____ of troubles" (Hamlet)
Using clippers?
Making waves?
Like pirates
ORAL
Big exam
Viva-voce
Rev. Roberts
Nuncupative
AGE
Improve, as beef
Census datum
Big time
ACRE
Decent plot
"God's Little ___"
Israeli port
Mediterranean city known anciently as Ptolemaïs
STAR
Common flag feature
Guide for the Magi
Macy's logo
Canopus or Aldebaran
ODOR
Olfactory stimulus
____-Eaters
Must, e.g.
Wavy lines, in the comics
TEE
Kickoff aid
Simple shirt
Bit of a snicker

Naturally, there's a lot more to learning crosswordese than mastering this relatively short list. But if you continually adopt this practice every time you come across a repeating crossword answer, you'll be speaking crosswordese in no time.

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