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Words every NY Times crossword puzzle fan should know blog

I’ll continue to update this page with new categories and instances as I see ’em in NY Times Crosswords.  This site advertises nothing but itself, please support it by exploring the site!  If you want to avoid direct answers and would prefer just hints check out my hint blog.

Notes:

If you don’t know them, learn Roman numerals.  When the Times says something like “Year Pope Leo was born”, the answer is usually a roman numeral.  So you know which letters are even possible:  M (1000), D (500), C (100), L (50), X (10), V (5), I  (1).  Remember that putting a single letter of smaller denomination before a bigger means you subtract that number.  Examples: Nine isn’t VIIII but is IX.  Forty is XL.  1900 is CM.

Anything with a “?” at the end is a pun or similar word play.  “Start for Angel?” might be  “LONG-A,” for example.

 

The Simpsons

Bar:  Moe’s

Teacher: Edna Krabappel

(The whole list is available on Wikipedia, of course. I’m just adding them as they come up, NYT puzzles)

 

Friends

Phoebe / Lisa Kudrow

ROSS; JOEY, CHANDLER

Frasier

Seinfeld: ELAINE, KRAMER, FRASIER, NEWMAN

(Personally, I don’t know much of anything about current TV;  But there are certainly lots of folks who know nothin’ about sports or some other common topic.  Often you know whether the answer’s going to be a man vs. a woman’s first name so you can begin to make a decent guess after you’ve filled in some of the squares.)

Athletes

(Cagers, in case you didn’t know, are basketball players, their league is the NBA;  U.S. Football leagues can be the NFL, the NFC or AFC  — conferences in the NFL — and AL-ERs and NL-ERs are American Leagues and National League baseball leagues who are rarely referred to this way except in crossword puzzles.)

Hockey:  Orr

Baseball: OTT, YAZ

Soccer: PELE

Golf: ERNIE ELS

Reggie Jackson: MR OCTOBER

Auto-racing family name:  UNSER (Is auto-racing a sport?  Not sure about that!)

Ice-skating: MIDORI ITO

 

Arenas  & Nicknames of professional teams

NYC – KNICKS; Arena:  MSG

Dallas = MAVs

…and don’t forget the Toledo MUD HENS!

 

 

Winners of American Idol :  I have survived this far without knowing them.  Perhaps this is going too far.  They would come in handy sometimes, but perhaps not worth memorizing them if you aren’t a fan.

 

Biblical characters

Look for unusual cluing that could result in Adam or Eve

Cain & Abel

Birthright Seller = ESAU;  his brother to whom he sold it:  JACOB

Not only a great ark builder but also a really old dude:  NOAH

 

Extinct Animals:

MOA

 

Archaic forms of common words:

Large:  Enorm

British equivalents of American words:

Bathroom = LOO

 

 

Playground retorts:

ARE TOO

ARE SO

AM NOT

You probably remember ’em, but worth reminding yourself:   TV Catch Phrases

Famous people

 

Architect Saarinen: EERO (Some people just aren’t satisfied without double vowels in their names!)

Chess Champion:  TAL

ESAI Morales

UMA Thurman

Judge in Simpson case:  ITO

YMA (Sumac) — Peruvian soprano

ARLO (Guthrie;  Woody’s son and creator of Alice’s Restaurant where you can get anything you want, excepting Alice)

NED (Beattie or ROREM)

One-named (New Age) singer:  ENYA

It’s hopeless to try to learn all OSCAR or EMMY winners, but a few are more common than others:

Best picture of 1958: GIGI

 

Nautical nicknames

Sailors = TARS, SALTS who SWAB the decks  (and “haul in the bowline” in Dylan’s 115th Dream), BOS’Ns

Big AIRPORTs:  LAX (Los Angeles), SFO (San Fran), LGA (La Guardian, NYC), JFK

Of course supersonic transports (SSTs) and Former Russian territories (SSRs) are always popular

 

 

FOREIGN WORDS    (often cued with something that only hints that it’s foreign or isn’t obvious what country it’s from)  Simple example “Hot time in Carcassonne” = ETE  (Weds. Nov 7 clued it as: “Season after printemps”

Remember that places like Caen, Bordeaux, Brest etc. are also in France

Pakistani, etc. are URDU languages

Is Hawaiian a “foreign language”?  Anyway, a “Wahine’s greeting = ALOHA

Numbers in Italian and German

Uno (or UNA = Italian article), due, tre

Ein(e), zwei, drei

German, Russian yes/no     ja/nein, da/nyet

 French: Une, deux, trois, (rares: quatre), cinq, (rarer still because the same in English: six), sept, huit, neuf, dix
Scottish (usually clued as “to Burns” or the like)
Wee = SMA
Rare (but came up on a Weds. recently):  Give = GIE
(What, does legendary Scottish thriftiness apply to words too?  Really, who needs those extra letters?)

French:

To bo (often clued as French 101 verb): ETRE

French Friend: AMI

French love: AMOUR

Evening:  SOIR

Summer: ETE

Winter: HIVER

Months: JANVIER, FEVRIER, MARS, AVRIL, JUIN, JUILLET, AOUT, SEPTEMBRE, OCTOBRE, NOVEMBRE, DECEMBRE

To have: AVOIR

Ocean/Sea: MER

Spanish months:

Common:   ENERO, MARZO, MAYO, JUNIO, JULIO

Less commonly used in puzzles:  FEBRERO, , AUGUSTO,    SEPTIEMBRE, OCTUBRE, NOVIEMBRE, DICIEMBRE

Emphatic Spanish assent: SI SI

Common Hebrew months: NISSAN, ADAR, ELUL

Greek

vowel: ETA

other: RHO, PIs, CHI (usually associated in clue with Sororities); SIGMA (associated with frats); OMEGA (the last last letter in the Greek alphabet — why couldn’t they end it with ZEE like everyone else…except the British who insist on calling zee ZED.

 

 

Foreign Money

Often clued as “former” currency: PESETA

Cambodian money: RIEL

And watch for EURO clued in a zillion different ways (e.g. Multinational currency)

Frequent Literary Names

Mother In Ibsen’s Peer Gynt: ASE

Mother in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying: ASA

Melville’s opus that isn’t Moby Dick: OMOO

 

Musical Instruments

LUTE, LYRE, SITAR, TABOR…

 

Corporate Names of Ball Fields (UGH!!!):

San Diego:  PETCO PARK

NY Mets:  CITI FIELD; Former home of the Mets: SHEA stadium

St. Pete: TROPICANA FIELD

Detroit: COMERICA PARK

NJ (where Giants / Jets play): MET LIFE

 

“Geographical” clues:

Sea known for it’s high salinity and for the fact that it’s rapidly disappearing from everything except crosswords: ARAL SEA

Rivers of Europe

RHONE and its tributary: ISERE

Dubai’s Federation: UAE;  Nassar’s federation, now defunct, was the UAR

Algerian Port: ORAN (OMAN, by the way, is a mid-eastern emirate); ORAN is frequently clued as Camus’ plague city because it’s where his book, named The Plague aptly enough, takes place.)

Western alliance since 1949: NATO

Former Soviet or former atlas or former former:  SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic)

Favorite puzzle volcano (MT) ETNA (Italy)  or OSSA (Greece)

Indian tourist locale = AGRA

You know of course that TAJ can be the MAHAL or “Atlantic City Casino”

Favorite crossword puzzle capital: ULAN BATOR

Initials of Government agencies:

FCC (communication), FTC  (trade), GAO (estimates of government economic projections)

 

Monopoly (the Parker Brothers game, not the guiding principle of modern capitalism.) properties.  Take a look at board and remind yourself, from “Mediterranean and Baltic” to all railroads.

Orange Avenue: TENNESSEE

 

Dr. Seuss characters: The LORAX, CAT IN THE HAT, Horton and his little Who, the Grinch, etc.

Constellations: URSA MINOR

Native Americans:  OTOE, HOPI, SIOUX, UTES, OSAGES

 

University abbreviations:  USC, UCLA, UNC,

People who went to Yale = ELIs

Ways of saying “REGARDING”:  IN RE, ANENT, AS PER,

Most prominent rappers & hip hop:  JAYZ,  KANYE WEST, DR. DRE

Color Shades

Blue:  CYAN, TEAL, AQUA

Random common crossword puzzle clues:

1950’s political initials:  DDE, RMN, AES

Asian Holiday: TET

Ave. intersectors: STS

Beau _____ = GESTE

Beginner: TYRO

Barley bristle or “beard” = AWN

Butter alternative: OLEO

Cartoon frame: CEL

of a Church flock: LAIC

ermine in winter or brown ermine: STOAT

Financial reserves in later years: IRAs

Government agents can be either TMEN or GMEN

Govt.-issued ID: SSN

H.G. Wells Time Machine race: ELOI

Hole-punching spike = AWL

Letter-shaped building material can by TBARs, IBARs, or LBARs

Memo starter: INRE

Mideast moguls: EMIRs

Muslim (religious) leader: IMAM

Rock genre: SKA

Rolaids competitor: TUMS

 

 

Subway or train stop (Abbr.): STA or STN

Top of the capital: DOME

Wood-shaping tool = ADZ

 

 

 

OPEC/Oil-rich Nat. = UAE (United Arab Emirates)

Legal term that appears often, literally, “thing”: RES

Music bands:  REM, Brian ENO,

Basic beliefs can be either TENETs or CREDOs

Dinner treat for Fido: ORT

Cued variously, recently “Holy Guacamole”: EGAD

Long story:  SAGA , EDDA, EPIC

Candy from a dispenser:  PEZ

 

Sgt., e.g. NCO (non-commissioned officer)

Ready to serve: ONEA

Star Trek counselor: (DEANNA) TROI

Typographer’s or Editor’s command:  STET (keep) or DELE (Delete), UNDO

Elusive Legend: YETI

D.C. 100: SENS (= Senators in U.S. congress)

911-responder: EMT or EMS

Org. that’s a topic of “Bowling for Columbine” (same answer is clued many different ways, watch for it): NRA

Round figs: ESTS or, singular EST (as in estimate)

She was I in the King and I: ANNA;  The King, by the way, was the king of SIAM

Horse color: ROAN

Up, in baseball: AT BAT

Musical Family: TRAPP (from The Sound of Music)

 

Weather phenomena: EL NINO

Card Game: UNO

Words ONLY seen in puzzles, never in life:

Doozy = ONER

 

 

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