2896: Crossword Constructors

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Crossword Constructors
Also, we would really appreciate it if you could prominently refer to it as an 'eHit'.
Title text: Also, we would really appreciate it if you could prominently refer to it as an 'eHit'.


This comic is inspired by a common situation when people try to make US-style quick crossword puzzles (where the grid is almost completely filled with words). Here, Cueball, Hairbun, and White Hat are crossword puzzle constructors, but some of the words they would like to use would result in awkward sequences of letters which are not English words or familiar names, such as "aete", "eni", etc. However, they have an idea to write a letter to persuade prominent singers (Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd) to choose these awkward sequences of letters as titles of their future albums, thereby letting Cueball, Hairbun, and White Hat write clues about those albums and use those letter sequences as answers.

The particular sequences of letters that are selected are notable for their exclusive usage of the most common English letters. Most of them also begin and end with a vowel. These are two features that are common in "crosswordese", i.e., words which appear significantly more often in crosswords than in reality. Examples of crosswordese that are actually used include the words "OREO", "EPEE", and "ONO".

The title text lists another sequence of awkward letters, "eHit". Here, Cueball, Hairbun, and White Hat ask these singers to refer their hits (popular songs) as "eHit"s, adding the "e" for electronic such as in e-mail and e-dating. This is also a reference to common crossword entries like "E-TAIL" or "E-MAG" which are often criticized for using the prefix "E" to create words that no one really uses.

Possible unintended meanings of words[edit]

  • aete: AppleEvent Terminology Extension
  • eni: Eni S.p.A., Italian multinational energy company; the name of an England footballer
  • oreta: Oreta, moth genus in family Drepanidae
  • aroe: Aroe may refer to: The Aru Islands Regency, islands in eastern Indonesia; Aroe, an alternative name for Aroi, Patras, in western Greece
  • oine: Kusumoto Ine, also known as O-Ine, Japanese physician
  • aen: AEN may refer to: Acute esophageal necrosis, a rare esophageal disorder; and more
  • aerae: aerae (Latin noun) genitive/dative singular and nominative plural of aera (era)

Enta da Stage is the debut album by American East Coast hip hop group Black Moon.
öine means nocturnal/nightly in Estonian, and features in the titles of a number of albums by artists from that country.

The above words and definitions would be considered too obscure for use in most American crossword puzzles, as puzzle editors normally prefer answers to be at least somewhat familiar to the general public, even if the answers wind up being clued obscurely.

Uses in mainstream crossword puzzles[edit]

Some of these words have appeared in the New York Times crossword, albeit only in the pre-1992 era (that is, before the current editor Will Shortz began his tenure).

  • aroe: Clued as a variant spelling for the Aru Islands Regency, and also as part of the phrase "and be thou like unto a roe" from the King James Bible.
  • aen: Clued as an abbreviation for the Aeneid or as an abbreviation for the Latin word aeneus meaning "of bronze" or "of copper"


[Cueball is sitting in an office chair at a table and typing on his laptop, with small movement lines above his hands indicating typing. White Hat and Hairbun are standing behind him and looking at what he writes. The text he writes can be seen above them. The list of words at the end are written in two columns with four words in each. Here below, the second column of words is written below the first:]
Dear Ms. Swift, Mr. Sheeran, Ms. Minaj, Ms. Grande, and Mr. Weeknd,
We are a group of crossword puzzle constructors, and we would like to suggest some titles for your future albums:
  • Aete
  • Eni
  • Oreta
  • Aroe
  • Oine
  • Aen
  • Enta
  • Aerae

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The top ten most common letters in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, and the percentage of words they appear in, are: E – 11.1607% A – 8.4966% R – 7.5809% I – 7.5448% O – 7.1635% T – 6.9509% N – 6.6544% S – 5.7351%

source: https://www.rd.com/article/common-letters-english-language/ (talk) 22:29, 19 February 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

At least one of those "words" is already available ...oreta is a genus of moths: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oreta (talk) 22:36, 19 February 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

{Yoko} "ONO" was over-played in crosswords a few years back. "ORONO" (university town in Maine) was over-favored by one constructor. Not to mention a sandwich cookie. PRR (talk) 22:39, 19 February 2024 (UTC)
"ONO" has also entered English from Hawaiian, where it means (a) good to eat, delicious; (b) the Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri), a species of fish. 02:21, 20 February 2024 (UTC)
Doesn't "ono" also mean "six" in Hawaiian? 22:08, 22 February 2024 (UTC)
”Eni” is an Italy-based oil company. 02:50, 20 February 2024 (UTC)

In contrast to crosswords in german newspapers, those in american newspapers are typically not dense, right? “Our” crosswords rarely have a single unused square. And this is obviously easier to compose if you can choose from more words. -- 22:48, 19 February 2024 (UTC)

"crosswords in german newspapers, those in american newspapers are typically not dense, right?"

For a quick overlook, Search Engine "NY Times Crossword", images. https://www.google.com/search?q=ny+times+crossword&tbm=isch The NY Times puzzles are as dense as commonly seen in the US. Much simpler puzzles abound, and brain-busters can be found, but the NYT puzzles are very typical well-done puzzles. --PRR (talk) 00:36, 21 February 2024 (UTC)

I was looking around the internet for an example, and I found this example: https://www.50plus.de/spiele/raetsel/kreuzwortraetsel-1.html
If this is what you are talking about, Games World of Puzzles calls this a "Pencil Pointer" puzzle. I think technically the name is "Swedish Style" according to Wikipedia. They aren't typically the kind you'd find in an :American newspaper, but I do see them on occasion.
Generally, the American style ones are less dense than Swedish but more dense than British cryptics. 00:49, 20 February 2024 (UTC)
Also, American puzzles almost always have rotational symmetry (at least 180 degrees, sometimes all four 90-degree turns)Mathmannix (talk) 01:49, 20 February 2024 (UTC)
Thanks,, that is exactly what I meant. -- 14:20, 20 February 2024 (UTC)

I'm confused, on reading the Explanation, as to whether these words are wanted for crossword clues or crossword answers. I thought I knew, but it looks like other people might have the other idea. Either:

  1. In order to fit something perpendicular to several other words, in a dense and/or symmetrically-gridded puzzle, it ends up asking for a (currently) fictional string of letters that cannot be given a valid 'Easy' clue. They're seeking to make "2024 Nicki Minaj hit song (5)", or similar, to become that, soon enough that they can publish the whole puzzle that they're otherwise happy with. Or,
  2. For a cryptic clue with an anagram/subselection element, they want a way to include, letters that they've found them unable to mix in otherwise. e.g. "Taylor Swift's 'Oreta' with Tenacious D's initial spin (7)" -> "rotated" (ok, awkward example, but best I could back-contrive at a moment's notice... As opposed to something like "Turned a bit of carrot at Edinburgh (7)", which would already work Ok for the exact same answer), using various typical tricksy and misleading mannerisms of a Cryptic...
  3. ...or both? Being only a(n unskilled) doer of crosswords, not usually a compiler of them, I might well be missing the details that someone deeper into crossword-lore takes for granted. 02:01, 20 February 2024 (UTC)
Most likely Cueball and friends are constructing American-style crosswords and want to use ORETA, ENTA, and similar words as answers in their puzzles, so that they could clue them with "2024 Nicki Minaj album", for example. (I imagine that when John Lennon entered into his second marriage, crossword constructors of America rejoiced since they now had a well-known person that they could use as a clue for ONO.) Since the letters in their proposed album titles are common, I doubt that a cryptic crossword constructor would be hoping for such "words" to exist so that they could use them in clues. -- 04:06, 20 February 2024 (UTC)
To be precise, I think they want to be able to use ORETA, ENTA, etc. in their puzzles, should the other words in their puzzles fit together in such a way that ORETA, ENTA, etc. would be used as answers. It's not like they're starting with a blank grid and saying "I really want to use ORETA in this puzzle"; rather, they often find that putting other words together might lead them to have ORETA as an answer. But since ORETA isn't a good choice for an answer nowadays, they have to change some other word that it would cross with in order to produce an answer other than ORETA. -- 09:48, 23 February 2024 (UTC)
My initial reading was that these were awkward series of letters that appear within words that they're otherwise struggling to find clues for, but I guess why not all three. 09:38, 20 February 2024 (UTC)

did any of yoy check out the new fnf rodentrap mod? i think it ws peak :) -- 08:06, 20 February 2024 (UTC)

Should main page include possibilty that there is no intended meaning in these words? (talk) 14:20, 20 February 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

If you can explain what you mean (I'm not entirely certain, you leave it somewhat ambiguous), you can possibly include itself.
(Unless you mean to edit the Main Page itself, which wouldn't be either right or technically possible, as you stand.) 15:45, 20 February 2024 (UTC)

Are there existing albums by the named artists that are like the words suggested? -- 18:20, 20 February 2024 (UTC)

^^^^^That was what I wondered. When I have time I might pop Ed Sheeran's albums into a crossword generator and see what I come up with... 21:56, 20 February 2024 (UTC)
None of these artists' albums have names anything like the "words" suggested by Cueball and friends in this cartoon. The most unusual names among them, I would say, are Ed Sheeran's albums, most of which are named after mathematical symbols. -- 05:33, 21 February 2024 (UTC)
I think the point being that these are pop-culture artists ('pop' as still rooted in the original 'popular', rather than necessarily the specific subset that defines 'pop music' culture itself, naturally). Even *I* have heard of these prolofic artistes, though I might have miswritten as "Minage" and (ridiculous as it sounds!) "Weekend", etc. I couldn't tell you what their songs/albums were named as (doesn't one of them call her albums a number, the age at which she created them?), but I could look them up. By contrast, some of the other fields wherein such constructed names might be introduced would be a bit more obscure or untimely, e.g. scientific instrument acronymical names on space probes/landers. 13:58, 21 February 2024 (UTC)
Adele is the singer whose albums all have numerical titles relating to her age, although now it seems more like the age when she started writing the songs rather than when the album was released. Her album 19 was released when she was 19, but her album 30 didn't come out until she was 33. -- 09:42, 23 February 2024 (UTC)
For the NYT crossword, there's a good database of clues and answers at https://www.xwordinfo.com. Some (partial) album names that have been used in the crossword in the past couple years are YAYAS from the Rolling Stones' "Get Yer Yayas Out!", RASTAMAN from Bob Marley's "Rastaman Vibrations", Steely Dan's "AJA", Nas's "I AM", Radiohead's "KID A", Alicia Keys' "AS I AM", Kanye West's "YEEZUS", Beck's "ODELAY", ELO's "OLE ELO", and Genesis's "ABACAB". None of these by those specific artists, but the point is more that they're some of the biggest active artists right now than that they're known specifically for making album names with weird letter combinations. 17:00, 21 February 2024 (UTC)

Is no one going to mention "Mr. Weeknd"? The thought of going up to him and addressing him by "Mr. Weeknd" is really funny to me Phlaxyr (talk) 18:12, 21 February 2024 (UTC)

You might get told "No, Mr. Weeknd was my father. Please, just call me The..." 23:49, 21 February 2024 (UTC)
Mr Weeknd is usually the result of overindulgence on the Friday night. 09:11, 22 February 2024 (UTC)

If you come across this situation while making crosswords, you may try using shift cipher as an alternative. ConscriptGlossary (talk) 08:30, 4 July 2024 (UTC)