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Crosswordese

What is it and why do we need it?

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Crosswordese refers to hackneyed, obscure words or partial phrases, usually three, four and five letters long, used in crossword puzzles. These words are rarely, if ever, encountered in everyday conversation but often appear in crosswords because of the need for vowel-rich words or vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant (and vice versa) words in particular areas of the grid. Puzzles with too much crosswordese are frowned upon by cruciverbalists (crossword makers and solvers) and most publications have strict limits on their frequency in any given puzzle.

The following is a partial list (scroll down to contribute to this list) of some of the most common crosswordese:

ADIT - Mine entrance
AERIE - High nest
AGHA - Turkish (Muslim) title of honor; a general
AGA - Turkish (Muslim) title of honor; a general
AGAR - Lab culture medium
AIT - River island
ALAI – Part of 'jai alai', a game played with a ball and racket
ALAR - Wing-shaped; Banned orchard spray
ALATE - Having wings
ALEE - Nautical term meaning 'away from the wind' or 'towards shelter'
ALETA - Prince Valiant's wife
ALEUT - Northern native (Aleutian Islands)
AMAH - Asian nanny
AMAS - Latin verb: You love
AMAT - Latin verb: He loves
AMATI - Famous violin (cf: violin maker, Andrea Amati)
AMIR - Muslim (religious) leader
AMO - Latin verb: I love
AMOR - Love, in Latin
ANIL - Shrub yielding a blue dye
ANKH - Egyptian hieroglyphic character (eternal life)
ANOA - Asian buffalo
APSE - Semicircular recess in a church
ARN - Prince Valiant's son
ARTE - Johnson of "Laugh-In" fame
ASTA - Dog of film in the 1930s
ASTI - Italian city known for its sparkling wines
ATRA - Gillette brand safety razor
ATTU - Westernmost Aleutian island
AULD - Part of "Auld Lang Syne"
BIRR - Ethiopian currency
BRIO - Italian: vigor; vivacity
CREE - Native Indian of northern Canada
ECRU - Shade of grayish-pale yellow or grayish-yellowish brown
(often describes fabrics: silk/linen)
ECU - Middle Ages shield; old French coin silver or gold coin
EDDA - Icelandic epic
EDO - Kyoto formerly
EERO - Architect Saarinen (St. Louis Arch, GM Technical Center)
ELIA – Part of 'Elia Kazan', Greek-born American film and theater director
ELO - Electric Light Orchestra
EMIR - Arab title of nobility
ENA - Bambi's aunt
ENATE - Related on the mother's side
ENO - Brian Eno, English musician, composer, record producer
ENID - Author Blyton
ENO - Music producer Brian ENO
ENOS - First-born son of Seth
EPEE - Dueling sword
ERAT - From Quod Erat Demonstrandum (QED)
ERATO - Muse of poetry
ERE - Before, poetically (e'er)
ERIN - Poetic name for Ireland
ERLE – Erle Stanley Gardner, American lawyer and author (Perry Mason)
ERNE - Sea eagle (osprey)
ERSE - Scottish Gaelic
ESNE - Anglo-Saxon slave
ESSE - "To be" in Latin
ETE - 'Summer' in French
ETRE - "To be" in French
ETTU - Part of "Et tu, Brutus?" (Caesar's last words)
ETUDE - Musical study
ETUI - Decorative case for sewing kit
EWER - Pitcher
GAM(S) - Attractive female leg
HOI - as in hoi polloi, "the masses" or "the people", usually derogatory
IDES - Mid-month dates
ILIE - Nastase of tennis; Author Wiesel
IMAM - Muslim religious leader
INNU - Northern native (Eastern North America)
INRI - Letters on the cross
IOTA - Greek letter or small, tiny (insignificant) amount
ISIS - Egyptian goddess of fertility (sister & wife of OSIRIS)
KLEE - Artist Paul
KUDU - African antelope
LANAI - Veranda (Hawaiian)
LARA - Dr. Zhivago's mistress (Julie Christie role)
LARI - Georgian currency
LECH - Lech Walensa, former Polish Solidarity leader and president
LEI - Hawaiian necklace (wreath of flowers)
LEK - Albanian currency
LEV - Bulgarian currency
LUAU - Hawaiian feast
NAN - Indian bread
NARD - Ointment or salve
NEE - Formerly called (woman's maiden name)
NENE - Hawaiian goose
NOLO - As in "nolo contendere"; plea of "No Contest" in a court of law
OBI - Japanese sash (Geisha wear)
OLEO - Margarine
OLIO - Mixture, elements of writing, music, art or food
OMAN - Neighbor of Yemen
OMOO - Herman Melville novel (1847)
OONA - Charlie Chaplin's wife
ORO - Spanish: gold
ORT - Food scrap or leftover
OTT - Baseball player Mel (1st NL player to surpass 500 home runs)
PABA - Sunscreen ingredient (Para Amino Benzoic Acid)
POI - Polynesian staple food
RANI - Indian queen or princess (wife of a Rajah)
RANEE - Indian queen or princess (wife of a Rajah)
ROUE - Rake (man devoted to sensual pleasures)
SARD - Gem stone
SARI - Indian dress
SKUA - Predatory seabird
SLOE - Fruit of the blackthorn (gin flavoring)
SOU - Old French bronze coin
SPEE - Part of "Graf Spee" German battleship
STRAD - Famous violin (cf: violin maker, Antonio Stradivari)
STOA - Covered walkway or portico
TARA - O'Hara estate in 'Gone With the Wind'
TETRA - Aquarium fish
TOPEE - Pith helmet
TYRO (TIRO) - Novice or beginner
UNAU - Two-toed sloth
URDU - Indo-Aryan language spoken mainly in Pakistan and India
UTE - Native American

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