Share your favourite crossword clues

Whenever I want to feel stupid, I have a go at the cryptic crossword in The Guardian. I can complete the crosswords in a lot of newspapers (eventually), but boy are the Guardian ones tricky.

Anyway, one of the clues in yesterday’s was not particularly hard to get, but produced such a perfect :smack: moment when I got it that I had to share. It’s just the kind of clue I like:

And herewith, spoilerised, the answer:


Any more crossword-lovers here?

I adore crosswords, and I’ve discovered over the last year or two (since I started doing one every day) that it’s really an acquired skill. You may suck at first, but if you keep at it, it gets easier. I remember the one clue that, for some reason, made everything about a crossword “click” for me–get me in the right mindset, let me look at clues laterally when necessary. It wasn’t very hard, but it’s the clue I always remember:

Radar Unit (4)

The answer, of course, is …


I’m not a crossword person, but I do remember watching a 60 Minutes segment on the creator of the NYTimes crossword puzzles. One of his more famous clues was:

Famous tower (3)

The answer was:

AAA - most readers though it was “tau-er” as in tall building, not “toe-er” as in “one who tows cars”.

A couple more from the same crossword that I thought were good:


This second one was kind of weird, as it gave the answer as three words (5,3,4) but the answer had to be entered onto the grid as two words, 7 and 5 letters long:


phouka, that’s a good one. Of course, here in the UK the answer would have to be “AA” instead. Homophones are often a good source of confusion for crossword clues, eg “flower” - think “something that flows”, ie probably a river. Another along the same lines was something like:

I was convinced the answer ought to be LUCIFER, but it had too many letters. Eventually I realised it was as simple as:



I like ones like this



Now that you know what I’m getting at, try. . .


partially filled in: _ _ _ _ DQS


When you start being aware of these types, the Friday and Saturday NYTs will start coming to you. But it’s still going to help to know some trivia.

You can get thru Monday and Tuesday with brute force. Wednesday and Thursday, you need to start thinking like Draelin’s and Phouka’s example.

At least, that’s my take.

Minor rant: this doesn’t happen too often, but I think it’s unfair for a crossword author to cross two words that require you to know the same subject. . .

like if you had M_ZART crossed with BEETH_VEN.

Nitpick: Will Shortz isn’t the creator/constructor of the New York Times crosswords; he’s the editor.

twicks, crossword editor (and only rarely constructor)

twiskster: since you’re in this thread, what do you think of my rant above?

is that fair to ask of an author/editor, that you should allow for a doer to have a shortcoming in one area of knowledge? If he has a shortcoming in two areas, that’s his fault.

I hate hate hate cryptic crosswords. For some reason, though, I don’t mind puns and curve balls in regular crosswords, and I consider the Friday and Saturday NY Times puzzles the Cadillac of crosswords (although if I had access to more Merl Reagle-edited crosswords, I’d probably be just as big a fan).

One of my recent favorite clues:



I see your point, but don’t feel strongly about – in that particular example, the names are both basic cultural literacy things. (If you gave an example of a shortstop’s name crossing the name of a QB, I’d be more apt to jump on that bandwagon :wink: .) My idea of a bad cross is one where both words are equally obscure (i.e., bogus), even if they’re from different areas (like a Latvian coin crossing an Zambian river). That’s the sign of a lazy constructor. Generally, if I may be brutally honest, we don’t check the crosses for subject area.

Is that really how they were written? I yell unfair, if so. Certainly if I were editing that crossword I would change the “number of letters” from (6) to (2,1,3) and from (7) to (2,3,2).

Colophon: in the U.S., letter counts/word counts aren’t usually given, except for cryptics – so the “7” given in this thread would just be a poster indicating the number of boxes in the grid. Ordinarily we don’t indicate how many words go into the blanks, or where the word breaks occur. The exceptions are cryptic crosswords, where word breaks are given, and some other “variety” crosswords, such as 1-2-3 crosswords, where each box gets one, two, or three letters – for those, the total number of letters of the entry is given, though without word breaks indicated.

Clue: IJKLMN (5)

Answer Water, ie ‘H’ to ‘O’ (H[sub]2[/sub]O)

The examples were from American crossword puzzles (non-cryptic), which don’t indicate the number of letters in parentheses after the clue. Trunk was probably just indicating how many letters are in the answer, since we don’t have the diagram to look at.


Whoops, I was beaten by twickster.


I once attended the National Puzzlers League convention with my wife and one of the segments was an oral crossword in which the constructor stood in front of the room and read out the clues while we filled in our grids. One of the clues he read (repeatedly) was “I love you, too.” By filling in the other words around this clue, the answer was EIRE. Most of us were totally stumped by this until he made it very clear that he was actually saying, Isle of U2