Crossword Puzzle Words

I do my local newspaper’s crossword every day, and one thing that drives me nuts are “crossword puzzle words”…words that do, technically, exist, but you never see them used outside a crossword puzzle, but in a crossword, they’ll pop up three out of five times. Let’s see how many we can think of.

OLEO…is there really anyone who doesn’t just call the stuff “margarine”?

IRAE (the clue is always “Dies ____”.)

AYAH and AMAH - both usually defined as “Eastern nurse.”

That OLEO clue screwed with my mind for ages till I got the nerve up to cheat and look at the back of the book! (I never get to the paper crosswords before Grandpa so they are almost always completely done by the time I get home. I have to hoard my books too because he’ll snag mine and do the puzzles leaving none for me.)

ORONO-a college town in Maine
EDINA-a Minneapolis suburb (or a character on “Absolutely Fabulous”)

Strangely enough, though, Orono is also the name of a Minneapolis suburb! (West of the city, on the north shore of Lake Minnetonka…and at least one Doper went to high school there ;))

I keep waiting for a puzzle where the clue “Minneapolis suburb” actually refers to Orono instead of Edina. I can just imagine the frustration of all the smug people out there who would think “Aha! Five-letter Minneapolis suburb…I know that one!” and then confidently fill in “EDINA”, using a pen, of course. Hee hee hee! And then the indignation when they find out that the answer is indeed “ORONO”–“That can’t be right! Orono is a college town in Maine! I bet that there is no Orono, Minneso…oops, there it is!”

I have a feeling that if I ever want to see that clue, I’ll have to make up my own puzzle.

One Across has a Crossword Puzzle Purity Test where you can test yourself on all the common “crossword” words and their clues.

How about “Irani” meaning “person from Iran”. Now, sure, you’ve got Iraqis and Omanis and Kuwaitis and even Yemenis. But in English, people from Iran are referred to as “Iranians”–except in crossword-speak.

Let us not forget:

Iter = Roman road

Ani = blackbird

Moa = extinct bird

Adit = mine enterance

Chit = marker or IOU

Quern = grain grinding mortar

Quire = quantity of paper

Aper = imitator

Nee = once known as

Stele = stone obelisk

Poa = bluegrass
…and all of the endless others. Remember, real crossword addicts do their puzzles in INK!

Con…I’ve never seen it used anywhere else (obsolete, to study?)

I somehow always use “epee” and “fjord”. Fjord is the only word I have used in real life.

whenever there is a clue about fish it is nearly always ‘EEl’

Has anone ever really used the arrow poison inee?

Some other ones that come to mind:
ecru = tan
portent = omen
pram = baby buggy

How about “nene,” the state bird of Hawaii?

Yeah, there’s one I use every day.

A four letter word for “curved molding”?

Why ogee, of course!

I’ve found the “Florida City” 5-letter clue usually ends up to be OCALA, rarely TAMPA or MIAMI.
Only once have I seen OPALOCKA (obviously without a hyphen).

Uke - I use ‘nene’ more often than you do.

I’ve encountered all the words given so far, but one that isn’t in the list yet is erne. Sometimes the variant ern is used in the puzzle, but the meaning is always the same: sea eagle.

Oh, my late grandmother (from North Dakota) always called it “oleo,” especially on recipe cards where it takes less space than “margarine.” I’m not sure if it reflected her age or region.

Other crosswords I love:

Eft (clue:newt)
Ural (clue: Russian river, never mountain)
Adat, or, very occasionally, Av (clue: Hebrew month)

Loved the list, Tamax - one of the answers I’m looking for (and may have encountered) is a five letter word for “Architect Saarinen,” for the answer is Eliel, Eero’s father.

Umm… I believe that the Hebrew month is Adar not “Adat.”


I’ll have you know I attended The University of Maine at Orono for two full semesters [sub]before they politely asked me not to return[/sub]

My words:

ADIT - Mine entrance.
ADZE - Type of saw.
ANA - Book collection.
AWL - Hole punch.
ODA - Harem room.
OBI - Kimono sash.

I’m sure there are many more, but it should be said that mastery of these freaky little words is the key to crossword puzzle solving proficiency.

If it’s a Melville novel, it must be Omoo.

Then there are the “famous” people who would have been forgotten long ago if their names weren’t so crosswordable: (William) Inge, (James) Agee, Oona (Chaplin), (Bobby) Orr, Elia (Kazan)…

[100% crossword impure–I am so ashamed…]