Explain this crossword answer to me

I have a book of crossword puzzles, and I just finished a crossword that I completely don’t understand. Usually I can figure out where they’re going with the “theme clues,” but after filling in this puzzle, I still don’t get it. Can someone explain the theme to me?

If you have the New York Times Sunday Crossword Tribute to Eugene T. Maleska book, it’s puzzle #76.

The title of the puzzle is “Put them all together…”

The pattern may not be relevant, but there are six theme clues–three on the top of the puzzle, three on the bottom. They are numbered as shown below:

The answers are:

  2. GOSE
  3. ERESA
  4. TONGU
  5. EART

If you put them all together in order, they read:

…which almost makes sense to me, but not quite. I have the feeling I’m being very dim about something here. Are the words scrambled? Am I reading them in the wrong order?

The clues themselves just say “Theme answer #x,” so no help there.

Thanks in advance for your help–this is driving me crazy, since obviously the back of the book gives the answers for the grid but doesn’t explain the wordplay.

Well, “AC HR EEG OS EE RE SA” are all common abbreviations, and “TONGUE ART OF PEAL” is more or less comprehensible. Does this help? Perhaps “SAT” is another abbreviation, but I can’t extract any more from the rest of the letters.


Actually, Mother plus another letter:


  1. Mother Machree
  2. Mother Goose
  3. Mother Teresa
  4. Mother Tongue
  5. Mother Earth
  6. Mother of Pearl

Maybe I just should have said:


And the extra letters spell out MOTHER (well, MOTEHR in the order given)


If only “Mother Machree” had meant something to me, maybe I would have been able to figure this out.

That is the most complicated thing I have ever seen in my life! Did somebody actually figure that out on their own? And if son, how?

If you think that’s tough, have a look at some cryptic crosswords sometime.

I saw a really great clue the other day from a crossword writer who was really phoning it in.

7D: An anapest.

(Seven letters, ends with “T”.)



I think that is illegal, and that particular crossword writer should be suspended or fined! (twixter?!)

I expect that this is riffing on the 1915 tune “M-O-T-H-E-R” by Howard Johnson and Theodore Morse, which has the often-parodied spell-out lyrics:

Yeah, someone was definitely not paying attention. We’ve all done it – but usually it gets caught before it makes it into print. :wink:

A web search brought me here (fifteen years after the original post). Thanks from the future!

Wait, but the word “anapest” is a dactyl at best, (Stress-unstressed-unstressed) though I’d more likely scan it as stress-unstress-stress (secondary)l. (Or am I missing something?)

Why I didn’t respond fifteen years ago, I don’t know.

Upon reading that post, it took me all of 7 unstressed seconds to guess that the word was “ANAPEST”. All the more ironic if I did so by misunderstanding what an anapest is.

I had never before today heard of the word ‘anapest’ but on looking it up, I agree with @pulykamell that it would normally be pronounced with a stress on the first syllable, which would mean the word ‘anapest’ is not in itself an anapest (which is obviously what the clue-writer was going for and presumably felt justified in breaking the usual rule that the answer to the clue must not appear in the clue). By contrast, I think the capital of Hungary, Budapest, would usually be pronounced as an anapest.

Budapest is typically pronounced with the stress in the first syllable. Wiktionary only shows that pronunciation (four different variants, but all with initial stress) but dictionary.com does show one variant with terminal stress. A word like “interrupt” is a good example, though you can put a lighter stress on the first syllable if you wanted to. “‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house/ not a creature was stirring not even a mouse” is one anapest after another (across different words.)

Thanks, again - great example. I think for me, Budapest is not strongly stressed on any syllable, but I do kind of ‘hear’ it most on the last syllable. I can certainly accept that this pronunciation is not the best or even incorrect.

In reply to the OZ (original zombie): I’d be willing to bet the original puzzle appeared on a Mother’s Day…