Are you a cruciverbalist? A lover of crosswords? If you can immediately recite a long list of obscure words with an excessive amount of vowels, you’re probably an avid crossword solver. And, this set of vocabulary that is full of words more likely to fill in your morning puzzle rather than your everyday conversation is commonly known as crosswordese.
Crosswordese words are used by puzzle makers to help fill in empty spaces and make sure enough vowels make it on the board. You can slice seconds off your completion time if you can learn and remember the most common of these clues.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but as you spend more time with your puzzles, you’ll start to add more to your mental list of crosswordese.
Common crosswordese and their clues
- NAVE: the principal longitudinal area of a church, extending from the main entrance or narthex to the chancel, usually flanked by aisles of less height and breadth: generally used only by the congregation.
- ESAU: a son of Isaac and Rebekah, twin brother of Jacob.
- SMEE: Captain Hook’s chief assistant in Peter Pan.
- AIOLI: a garlic-flavored mayonnaise.
- OLEO: margarine.
- URAL: a river and mountain range in Russia.
- ALEE: in seaman’s language, away from the wind.
- ETUI: a small, often decorative case, especially one for needles, toilet articles, or the like.
- AERIE: the nest of a bird of prey, as an eagle or a hawk.
- E’EN: contraction of even.
- O’ER: contraction of over.
- –OSE: a suffix meaning “full of.”
- EID: either of two Islamic festivals, Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha.
- EMIR: a chieftain, prince, commander, or head of state in some Islamic countries.
While these vowel-heavy words help out a puzzle maker, the solvers are getting tired of seeing the same repeats. On a crossword solver message board, one solver recorded the most commonly used repeats for a month in 2014.
- 16: ALE
- 14: IRA
- 12: ORE
- 11: ALEE, ELI
- 10: AGE, EEL
- 9: ADO, EPEE, LEA, ODE, ONE, RTE, URN
- 8: ARIA, ASP, END, EPA, ERA, ERR
- 7: ABE, ABET, AREA, ART, ETE, IRE
- 6: ALI, ALP, ASH, ATE, CPA, DNA, EEO, EMU, EON, ESP, ETO, ETON, OAF, OGRE, OVA, SPA, STAR, TOE, TRIO
- 5: ACT, ADE, ERE, ETA, EKE, ERG, ETA, IMP, IRS, OAT, OPAL
- 4: ACRE, ADD, ALOE, ALOT, APE, EDEN, ELAN, ELM, ELS, EMIR, END, ERIE, EVA, OAR, OBOE, OIL, ONO, ORO, PTA, SEA, TAO
Do you recognize all of these words? Start looking up the definitions, and you’ll be prepared for the most common of the common crossword clues.
Common crossword themes
In addition to those commonly found crosswordese terms, you’re likely to see repeating themes in puzzles. If you familiarize yourself with the content of the clues and tricks to answer them, you’ll find the puzzles much easier to solve.
Compass point directions
Common crossword clue: U-Turn from SSE
Common crossword clue: Roman numeral for 54
Common crossword clue: ____ of Arc
Common crossword clue: Accusatory Latin phrase
Prefixes and suffixes
Common crossword clue: Colorful prefix
US state abbreviations
Common crossword clue: Hoosier state abbv.