In August 2014, I began a first-of-its kind project...and I did it with no government funding! I was getting frustrated by the lack of creativity and originality in crossword-puzzle "fill." Puzzle makers kept using the same few Crosswordese words---common three- and four-letter words, most of which begin with a vowel. Combined, the Register, Daily News, Los Angeles Times
and Glendale News-Press
had six different daily crosswords and I kept count of the answers for 30 days in order to determine which words appeared most frequently in crosswords. I posted the results at http://www.cruciverb.com/index.php?topic=105973.0
---go look! The three most common words were ALE, IRA and ORE.
In January 2015, I did another month-long study. The Register
was a Los Angeles version of the Orange County Register
and ceased publication after only five months. This time around, I had five daily puzzles instead of six. And this time around, ALE is once again the most-used word.
17 - ALE
13 - ODE, ORE, USE
11 - EPEE
9 - ERA, EMU, OREO, SEA, URN
8 - ASP, EDEN, EEL, ERR, LEI, NEE
7 - ASEA, EGO, ELI, ERE, ETA, ETE, IRA, SPA, UTE
6 - AHA, ARENA, ATE, ELS, END, ERIE, ESS, ETA, EVE, EWE, IRE, OGLE, ORAL, ORCA, ORO
5 - ABET, ADO, AGE, ALEE, AMEN, APE, AREA, EAT, ECRU, EERIE, EKE, LEER, OAF, OAK, OAR, OBOE, OLEO, UKE
Among the 100 other most-used words are ALI, ALOE, ALOHA, AURA, ELM, EURO, OAT, OBI, ODIE, OGRE, OLE, ONO, OTT, OPIE, SNL and SST.
Anyone who can construct a crossword without using any of those words, as Merl Reagle did one time last year, deserves our undying admiration!