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Author Topic: Bad crosswordese, and word lists  (Read 2333 times)


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Bad crosswordese, and word lists
« on: March 10, 2017, 12:14:53 AM »
I'm still brand new at this, so if I'm off base here I'm fine with that, and hope to hear so (learning that way).

I just wrote the longest clue I've written yet, for NLER. The clue is "Horrible but common crossword puzzle answer that needs to die; abbreviation for a National League baseball player. Sometimes these things happen when you have to make a grid fit together."

Obviously I would never write that for a puzzle to submit anywhere for real, but since it's just for friends and practice at this point I'll let it stand.

The broader question I have though is why we need these at all? I'm probably going to delete NLER and ALER (and some others) from my word lists (or at least score them around 15) and see if I miss them. There is a lot of crosswordese that could probably use the same fate, unless it just makes things unworkable. If the goal is to have all the entries be mostly accessible---not too obscure, not too contrived---is it practical to only use words to that standard, and re-work grids until you can do it? Maybe not, or maybe it requires giving up too many otherwise cool ideas, which is totally fair. I'm still learning here.

If it is reasonable to keep everything accessible like that though, I'd guess that there's no need for 150,000+ word lists, which is well above most people's vocabularies even for well educated people and accounting for entries that are phrases.

How badly do we need those awkward crufty entries?

Of course, the counter argument that comes to mind is that I don't imagine this is a new idea, and since smarter people than me keep using them and smarter editors than me keep accepting them, I guess there are needed?


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Re: Bad crosswordese, and word lists
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2017, 06:06:05 AM »
The broader question I have though is why we need these at all?

I'm new to the constructing thing too, and a lot of what I'm trying to do is stay away from my personal peeves I have as a solver.  Perhaps that's why I'm having trouble with getting fill completely accomplished on a grid, too.

From what I notice, though, if you start with a set of theme answers that are non-negotiable (naturally) you have to make certain compromises in order to accomplish those, and that's the occasional odd non (strict) dictionary phrase.  Although, a certain amount of "rework" is always possible, from what I gather.  But given the nature of how words are constructed, it's hard to come up with the "absolute perfect" grid.

Many more will be more informed.  But that's just what I notice in trying to do this myself.

I'd guess that there's no need for 150,000+ word lists

The way I see it, word lists help a lot from more of a memory standpoint.  How can anyone remember all the "accessible" words?
My Blog of Totally Random Crossword Observations:


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Re: Bad crosswordese, and word lists
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 08:37:25 AM »
Please see for current usage of NLer from a reputable source (Sports Illustrated). I agree that it's a crosswordy entry, and I avoid it whenever possible (as you should any abbreviation, and this one is not a "standard" abbr. so even worse). You'll note ( that this entry was not used by NYT, LAT, or Newsday in the year 2016. But Glen9999 is right, sometimes these entries are necessary. I think maybe I've used it once or twice in ~400 puzzles. While many people don't like to see sports jargon in puzzles, everyone who knows anything about baseball knows what NLer means. Demoting its point value is a good way to keep it from tempting you to use it.
Mark McClain
Salem, Virginia, USA


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Re: Bad crosswordese, and word lists
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 11:45:30 PM »
I'm pretty new at this too, but I don't think any constructor actually wants to use NLER, SSGT, WNW, or any other crosswordese. But if I've got themers/nice long entries, I'll pay the price of an NLER to make it work - sometimes there are alternate themers/long entries/block arrangements, but sometimes there aren't and that's the best combination of smoothness and liveliness.


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