I like solving crossword puzzles. And I dislike encountering archaic and obscure crossword puzzle clues. They make it unnecessarily difficult to solve the puzzle, especially when there are a few too many clustered together in the same puzzle.
As I have been working my way through an old book of 500 crossword puzzles I found in a second-hand book store, these kinds of clues began to annoy me so much that I began keeping a list of them, just to get an idea of how ridiculously hard they made it to solve the puzzles.
This makes me think of some kind of architectural ornamentation, for some reason. But it's a type of religious vestment.
My brain wants to make this be calumet.
definition: make false and defamatory statements about.
I guessed it was something to do with tears, because of the "lacr" prefix. And I was right; it's a substance that irritates the eyes and causes tears to flow, such as tear gas.
This word looked so strange it could very well have been Martian, for all I knew. But it's exactly what it says it is, a mono-ski: a single wide ski used for skiing on snow.
definition: the scar on a seed marking the point of attachment to its seed vessel.
Sure. Everybody knows that.
definition: a concise saying or maxim; an aphorism.
definition: a type of religious vestment.
My mind keeps trying to turn it into quotient + meridian.
definition: ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane.
I once played a piece of music with this word as its title. It was about some mythical weeper who was turned into a fountain, I think?
definition: a Greek nymph
Not the dance pavane!
definition: a water kite (a device towed behind a boat).
My brain kept trying to make this word be Charcuterie.
definition: a medieval ecclesiastical manuscript.
Sounds like some kind of portmanteau a start-up would use.
definition: a fluster or panic.
What a vexing word!
definition: a flag-like object used as a military standard by units in the Ancient Roman army.
Not despite, no matter how much my dyslexia repeatedly attempts to make it so!
definition: a type of polyphenolic compound composed of two or more monocyclic aromatic units linked by an ester bond.
Sure. Sure it is. Mmm-hmm. Of course. Everyone knows that.
Norse tusk? Not too far off: the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish word for Cod and Atlantic cod.
This made me think of some kind of gazelle, for some reason. And I was right: it's a small antelope found in eastern, southern and western Africa.
definition: a type of religious vestment.
While? With whom? William? Woo-hoo?
definition: formerly; in the past.
definition: a shipworm.
What lispers do when they hypothesize?
definition: embezzle or steal (money, especially public funds).
So why do we have this word, when "embezzle" is a perfectly good word itself?
How on earth am I supposed to have any idea what in the world a word like this means? Dzo??
definition: a male hybrid of a cow and a yak.
definition: the neck of an animal.
And the word "neck" isn't good enough? Yeesh.
Genentech + biathlon + Necronomicon?
definition: a birthday poem.
Ramada + barracuda?
definition: a herd of horses that have been saddle-broken, from which ranch hands choose their mounts for the day.
definition: a projection at a corner of a door or window architrave.
(And now I have to go look up "architrave." This is why, beyond a certain point, pedantry really annoys me.)
Not the volcano.
definition: money; cash (slang).
"Esperanto" for those in a hurry and have to condense the word?
definition: a type of grass.
Not a sunflower, but a kind of opal reflecting a reddish glow.
A pustule that ululates?
definition: to breed or spread so as to become extremely common.
definition: the apsidal eastern termination of a church choir typically having a surrounding ambulatory that opens onto a number of radiating apses or chapels.
When a robot burps? Actually, a cod-like freshwater fish.
A place for storing sewing notions?
definition: shell game
Something used to pull taffy? No, it's the rail and ornamentation around a ship's stern.
definition: a small wooden peg or spigot for stopping a cask.
Not the element palladium, but a religious vestment.
Razzle-dazzle with raffia.
definition: a slave raid
The "mistle" part made me think of the European bird the mistle thrush, but it's really a raccoon-like animal native to Central America and southern Mexico.
Vilification of Filipendula?
definition: to regard as worthless or of little value.
definition: to buzz or hum.
I pictured someone planting a bomb. Or a character like Yosemite Sam swearing, "What in bombination has that derned rabbit gone and done now?!"
Not a fragile Brazil, but a form of ice.
Sounds like a song you'd hear on Sesame Street. And it means what it says: arranged alphabetically. But I never see that word anywhere except in crossword clues. Which is exactly why I hate it when I see words like that in crossword clues.
This word comes from Kekchi, a Mayan language of Guatemala, so there was no way I could suss out what the hell it means.
definition: a stinging ant, Ectatomma tuberculatum.
And why any crossword editor thought it made for an acceptable clue is beyond me. How well-versed did that editor expect solvers to be in Kekchi, anyway?
What a nasty-looking word. And how do you even pronounce it?
Editor?!? What's wrong with just saying "editor"??? Yikes.
Fortunately, present-day crossword puzzles seem to have left such archaic terms behind, and favor more sensible clues instead, much to my relief.