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Author Topic: The October 26 crossword: My two cents' worth  (Read 1214 times)


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The October 26 crossword: My two cents' worth
« on: October 26, 2016, 04:52:38 PM »
Patti Varol began solving crossword puzzles as a child. When she was in her 20s, she worked as an editor for Penny Press, which publishes dozens of different puzzle magazines. She then discovered how much fun it is to create crossword puzzles. Her crosswords appear regularly in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other newspapers. Her puzzle today includes CHICKENFEED, CHUMPCHANGE and SMALLPOTATOES. Each phrase has the same clue: "Peanuts."

The use of "chicken feed" as a synonym for a small or insignificant amount of money dates from around 1930. "Chump change" dates from the mid-1960s. Potatoes have always been the main food source in Ireland. A severe famine from 1845 to 1852 wiped out most of the potato crops. All that was left were -- yes -- small potatoes. Oddly, the "small potatoes" expression dates from around 1825, 20 years prior. It originally referred to an insignificant or unimportant person and now also means a trifling amount of money. The use of "peanuts" as a synonym for a small amount of money, e.g., "They've got me working for peanuts," dates from 1934.

(On a slightly related note, Charles Schulz drew a comic strip called Li'l Folks. In 1950, when the strip went into syndication, United Feature Syndicate renamed it Peanuts to avoid confusion with two other strips, Li'l Abner and Little Folks. The name was inspired by the so-called "peanut gallery" of children in attendance during telecasts of The Howdy Doody Show. Schulz, who died in 2000, drew the strip every day for nearly 50 years. He never used assistants. The number of  Peanuts strips he drew: 17,897.)

"Date night destination" is CINEMA. In most English-speaking countries other than the United States, a cinema is a venue which shows movies and a theatre is a venue offering live performances. "Cinema" comes from the Greek κινῆμα (kinema), which means "motion."

"Gaudy trinket" is GEWGAW. The word dates from 1529 and means "a showy trifle; bauble; trinket; a small thing that has little value." It comes from the Middle English gugaw, which derived from giefu (also geofu or geafu), the Old English word for "gift." Among the synonyms for gewgaw are bagatelle, bibelot and gimcrack -- fun words to use to impress your friends. :)


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