What are some stock crossword puzzle clues?

Prompted by (and borrowing from) a post in another thread, what are some stock crossword puzzle clues often employed by lazier or unimaginative puzzle writers?

As mentioned in the other thread, there’s

Formerly Persia (or, Persia Today) for Iran

Then there’s

Miner’s Entrance (Adit)
Sea fowl (Tern)
Eagle’s home (Aerie)
Any others?

Paging twickster


Composer Ned – Rorem (also given as US composer). It’s a good word to fill in the blanks.

1997 Peter Fonda role – ULEE. (this is sort of a private joke. My wife saw that movie, and whenever it shows up, I go, “hmmm. 1997 Peter Fonda role. . .” like I’m thinking.)

You gotta watch out with sea fowl. Sometimes it’s ERNE, and sometimes it’s ERNS.

Also, EIRE shows up a lot as an answer (Yeats home, for example)

I came in to say erne, which has already been given (although I always see the clue “Sea Eagle” for it)
“Tolkien creature” - ENT
“Spanish Gold” – ORO

“Art Supporter” – EASEL
and the ever popular “direction opposite to ___” for ENE, ESE. etc.

When I’m training a new editor, the first exercise is, “Write me 50 – yes, 50 – clues for ‘star’ and sort them into easy, medium, and hard.”

Any takers? :wink:

“Likely” - Apt

I wonder if they could use:

ESAI – before Morales
ENYA – before the singer
eBay – before
ARON – before Elvis
IPOD – before

New words are popping up with great regularity in the puzzles I work.

:rolleyes: Well gee, you don’t have to snap so. This isn’t the city desk. But yeah, here’s 9, count 'em, 9.

EASY: Little twinkler. Celeb. Sheriff’s shield.
MEDIUM: Lead. Navigator’s aid. You might hitch your wagon to it.
HARD: Mark as special. Kind of chamber. Writer Darren.

While we’re submittin’ stuff, I’ll submit that short, E-intensive words are not used solely by lazy puzzlers, but are really the Tinkertoy disks of crosswordom: handy connectors for words that otherwise might not connect at all. My hometown happens to be one: Iowa college town _ _ _ _


Zeldar – nope, of course not.

Which is why we are so giddy when a new word becomes common enough to use in a puzzle – I’ve thrown “blog” and “glurge” into grids.

And despite my hardcore liberal credentials, I wasn’t entirely pissed when Alito was confirmed – there’s a damned useful crossword word.

I don’t mean to imply the use of the words themselves are so much an indicator of laziness, more that the recycled clue is. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen “Formerly Persia” or “Miner’s Entrance” as the clue, when, IMHO, there are surely more creative ways to clue them than to use the old standbys. (Sure, if I’m so smart, why don’t I come up with some? Cause I’m not a crossword puzzle constructor :p)

Some common ones I’ve noticed:

‘Lemieux’s mileau’ for “ice”
‘Chew the scenery’ for “emote”
And about 100 different clues for “lea”

I tend to see ‘Butter substitute’, ‘Spreadable butter’, ‘Dieter’s spread’, etc…

OLEO. Mmmm… vowels.

I can’t think of how many different clues I’ve seen for ‘epee.’ They’re all painfully obvious, though. Once I learned the word, I don’t think I’ve seen a clue pointing to that word that I didn’t get right away. Similarly, ‘alb’ is alway the obvious answer to any clue I’ve seen.

Nick and Nora’s dog Asta - I used to think it was a rule to have that in a crossword puzzle.

sewing case ETUI


formerly, formerly ERST

former Italian currency LIRE

winglike ALAR

Melville novel OMOO

writer James AGEE

old hotrod REO

L-Q connection (and many other variations) MNOP

and, of course,
compass direction NNE or ENE or ESE or SSE or…

I once read a rather barbed comment in an article about crossword puzzles. It said that a seasoned puzzle constructor has struck bottom when they are forced to use ANOA (Celebes Ox) in one of their creations. As one who struggled for far too long to create even one puzzle, I am impressed with anyone who can create any puzzle at all.

Charlie Chaplin’s wife - Oona
Hawaiian goose - nene

I see these a lot:

“french summer” - ETE

“curvy letter” - ESS

“exclamation of understanding” - AHA

“woodwind” - OBOE

“opera solo” - ARIA

Active volcano / European Volcano / Volcano in Italy: ETNA

Useful Plant / Lotion base, maybe: ALOE

All het up: AGOG

A ship’s side/ Away from the wind: ALEE
When I start today’s xword puzzle, I’m sure I’ll come up with some more.

One that really pisses me off: “Teenage ailment”: ACNE

I wish all the zits I’ve had since turning 20 on the next crossword maker who clues it thusly. :mad: