Jazz pianist Jamal / TUE 11-7-17 / Foreign exchange student in "American Pie" / Q-V connection / Lentil dish at Indian restaurant

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Constructor: Greg Poulos

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Tuesday)

THEME: WORD OF THE YEAR (56A: Annual American Dialect Society award given to seven answers in this puzzle) — it is what it says it is:

Theme answers:
  • MILLENNIUM BUG (20A: Rollover problem? [1997])
  • DUMPSTER FIRE (28A: Spectacular disaster [2016])
  • BAIL OUT (36A: Rescue from insolvency [2008])
  • PLUTOED (39A: Demoted [2006])
  • SINGULAR THEY (46A: Gender-neutral pronoun [2015])
  • WMD (13D:  Iraq war worry, for short [2002])
  • APP (61D: Snapchat or Dropbox [2010])
Word of the Day: MILLENNIUM BUG
The Year 2000 problem, also known as the Y2K problem, the Millennium bug, the Y2K bug, or Y2K, is a class of computer bugs related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates beginning in the year 2000. Problems were anticipated, and arose, because twentieth-century software often represented the four-digit year with only the final two digits—making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. The assumption of a twentieth-century date in such programs caused various errors, such as the incorrect display of dates and the inaccurate ordering of automated dated records or real-time events. (wikipedia entry for "Year 2000 Problem")
• • •

This is an "I found a list and I'm going to arrange words from this list symmetrically in a grid" theme. Whoop dee doo. There's nothing clever happening here. Answers may as well be dog breeds with a revealer of DOG BREEDS—that's how exciting this is. Yes, you get some wackadoodle words like PLUTOED (which no one says at all) and historical curiosities like MILLENNIUM BUG (?), but the rest are just ... words. Oooh, APP, how fun! APP is crosswordese now. See also WMD. No theme credit for you! Ugh, and that first themer. I had MILLENNIUM BU- and still had No Idea what [Rollover problem? [1997]] wanted me to write in. Again, keep your stupid "?" clues out of an essentially non-"?" theme. They are irritating. "Y2K" is something I remember. MILLENNIUM BUG, not at all. And I was very much an adult for that whole "rollover" event. PLUTOED also flummoxed me, as I stared at PL--OED going, ".... no." On top of this mere-list theme, the fill is not good. Except PIANO WIRE, which is highly unusual. And KING MINOS too, I'll take him. But the big NW / SE corners are dull and UIE ISM INO RSTU ESE ANDLO (!?!?!) LOL no. I mean, ANDLO + RSTU = delete your grid. Hey, what did Santa say when he finally found a means of descending the chimney safely? ANDLO, AROPE! HOHOHO!

["If you're ever ____, / Here I am!"]

Further, isn't the clue for BAILOUT wrong (36A: Rescue from insolvency [2008])? That clue wants a verb, BAIL space OUT. But the Word of the Year was a noun—BAILOUT (n.): "bailout, the rescue by the government of companies on the brink of failure, including large players in the banking industry." Unless you are going to try to convince me that "Rescue" is being used as a noun there, which ... I mean, I guess you could lawyer it that way, but you and I know you wrote that clue and the world will interpret that clue as having "Rescue" as a verb. In the end, the themers themselves have some inherent charm, but the theme concept is just blah, and the grid as well.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I left one answer off the "Good" list: GAY BAR (10D: New York's Stonewall Inn, e.g.)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ben 5:32 AM  

Liked it a bit more than OFL, but knew he'd have a conniption once I hit RSTU. Got held up for a sec by ZELDA, as I had the E and wanted PEACH. ZSA Zsa helped fix that quickly. Would add that having SINGULAR THEY is a fairly progressive item for a puzzle with GAY BAR, so kudos to the constructor. And no mention of Trump or his family/associates... Surprised Rex didn't do a dance!

Rod Huggins 5:43 AM  

Oh Rex you're such a flamer you set off the smoke alarms! Who are you trying to fool? Come with me to Ptown and I'll show you the sights!

Lewis 5:44 AM  

The star of this puzzle is the theme, with its answers that revive memories in a colorful way. Kudos to Greg for respecting this and not trying to upstage it, for doing the best job he could to get seven theme answer in there, and having them held together as best as he could.

And yes, the puzzle did lead me down memory lane -- Y2K, planet-no-more Pluto, Iraq quagmire, 2008 plummet, bathroom-gate. The theme answers (with the exception of APP) were charged with meaning and wit, and Greg let them shine. He kept his ego in check, perhaps saving constructor cleverness for another day. Bravo for that Greg, for letting the theme answer work their magic on me. SALUT!

Paul Rippey 5:50 AM  

I think “pink” means ROSe, not ROSY. I mean, pink is a color, ROSe is a color. “Name a color.” “Okay, uh, ROSY”. No, no.

So that gave me Ken GRIFFEe, which didn’t seem quite right, but not obviously wrong either.

That, plus trying to make KING MIdas fit. Too much frustration for a Tuesday.

Loved PLUTOED, on the other hand.

Anonymous 6:00 AM  

Phew! Nearly forgot to tip my SJW hat to gay bar! Wouldn't want to seem like some intolerant cretan. More important to seem than to be.

King Minos 6:13 AM  

I didn't know you were a native or inhabitant of the Greek island of Crete.

Nickyboy 6:17 AM  

I have never heard the term "plutoed" in my life. I see from Lewis' comment above that it comes from the planet Pluto being "demoted" as a planet. That is pretty damned weak, if you ask me. Would people really get that reference in every day speak? "How's work, Bob?" "Ugh, I just got Plutoed!" "WTF are you talking about, Bob?"

Anonymous 6:26 AM  

Not sure why I like it so much that Rex adds "(for a Tuesday)" when rating harder puzzles early in the week so as to ensure that no one underestimates his brilliance. Is it cockiness? Maybe a little insecurity? Strikes me that he never adds "(for a Saturday)" after rating a late-week puzzle as Easy.

Loren Muse Smith 6:49 AM  

Yay. Yay. And yay. I’ll take Any puzzle that gets the word out that the SINGULAR THEY has become legit. No matter that it’s been singular for centuries. (This summer, I noticed that Walpole used it liberally in The Castle of Otranto, and he wrote that in 1764.) Pedants, more and more, will have to find other aspects of language to judge people’s inferiority (and their own superiority) by. Bad news – the lie/lay distinction is pretty much gone, infer/imply difference – gone, judgement with two e’s – fine, podium/lectern distinction – gone. And yeah – beg the question is now ok to mean raise the question.

I love all these entries, especially DUMPTSTER FIRE. So many snarky wordplay possibilities. Speaking of which, cool to have JAIL in the grid with BAIL OUT.

So this Word of the Year, with its SINGULAR THEY is so grammarsome. Wonder if we’ll give up the good fight next year and ok the pronoun I in the lower case? My job sure would get easier. And the year after that, maybe green-light using an apostrophe to mark plurals? We’re not going to be able to hold off much longer on these. Mark my words.

Back to the THEY. I imagine that some, Some, of you who whine about it truly don’t use it when you speak. And I imagine that you’d be exhausting to listen to. I’d be looking over your shoulder for a new conversation partner. But I might hang around long enough to see you worm your way out of something like this: You’re all leaving the restaurant after a work dinner. Someone has left a phone on the table. You comment, Oh. Looks like one of our workers has left his or her phone here. I hope he or she isn’t too far out before he or she notices it’s missing.

I’m with @Lewis – I liked this theme, and it is the star here, and with its celebration of the dynamic nature of our language, I’ll call it a “whoop dee doo.”

Robert A. Simon 6:51 AM  

Today is exactly why--like many if you--I have a love/hate relationship with this blog. (And yes, my personal life is so bad that this counts as a relationship.) But anyway, on the one hand, there's another I-and-only-I-know-how-to-construct-a-puzzle diatribe from OFL--pronounced "offal." But then @Lewis rode in on his internet-connected white stallion to eloquently defend it in words I wish I wrote.

Words of the Year are worth remembering. Today, Rex, all of yours are totally forgettable.

John H 6:58 AM  

"Rescue" can be interpreted as a noun, but it should have "the" in front, as in the definition you cite. I did, in fact, interpret it as a verb. Doesn't it bother you more that several "words" are actually two words? I don't use "plotted" ut I do like it a lot. The rest, meh.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

this isn't a "i'm a snowflake who is insufferable and gets butthurt over crossword puzzles" review. whoop de do. terrible blog.

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

* is.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

Funny how some of these took off and are now part of the language (dumpster fire, bailout), while others just went away (Plutoed, millennium bug).

Yesterday’s ‘easiest puzzle ever’ followed up by a furiously hard Tuesday. Among the things that made it so: odd clue for STAY (does anyone ever say 'stay', rather than ‘call’?), AHMAD (should have been clued as _____ tea) and SLOOP.

Wish 42A had gotten a Gabor clue. And my tipping point was RSTU and UIE … if your grid has both of those …

Anonymous 7:16 AM  

The theme answers are interesting. They are each notable for their prominence in a given year. As with any of these terms some have entered common usage some are curiosities. All are interesting markers of an era good work.

American Liberal Elite 7:17 AM  

For two years, Y2K issues were half my job. You would think that if "Millennium Bug" were a thing, I would have encountered it before this morning.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

@Paul Rippey - think of cheeks. (No, not those cheeks.) ROSY cheeks are pink cheeks.

clk 7:21 AM  

I have to agree with @Lewis about the trip down memory lane this puzzle provided. The fact that MILLENNIUM BUG and PLUTOED never entered the vernacular is a useful reminder that what seems important in the moment won’t necessarily endure.

As someone who has never played poker, I confidently entered ‘hold’ instead of STAY and had all sorts of trouble as a result. GAYBAR helped me dig out.

Hungry Mother 7:31 AM  

Back to the puzzle after marathon weekend in NYC. This played very hard for me, but I got through it, albeit slowly.

Birchbark 7:35 AM  

There was a moment in the noun/verb struggle over BAILOUT where we glimpsed the possibility of redemption. Akin to a freeze-frame in an epic battle scene, when the king-who-has-long-since-stopped-using-his-powers-for-good drifts back to some happy moment in youth, lingers there, then realizes he's on the wrong side of the fight. But no, too far gone, the action resumes, steel clanks on steel, an none dare call "rescue" a noun, even though the very definition of BAIL OUT uses it that way.

Anonypuss 7:38 AM  

@Robert A Simon said, "Words of the Year are worth remembering. Today, Rex, all of yours are totally forgettable." Damn, that's succinct and clever. I wish I'd written that.

This was delightfully difficult. And I loved learning PLUTOED, even though I've never heard it and will never use it.

FrankStein 7:43 AM  

I prefer the crossword puzzles I did in my UTE.

Denise 7:48 AM  

I will have you know that in 1999, I and all my staff dressed up for Halloween as 'Millennium Bugs'. As a matter of fact, I used that costume last week and a young teen thought it was so cute, he asked for a selfie with me. Rex, you do not know everything and you prove it everyday on this blog (though I admit I do not read this everyday as one can only take so much belly-aching).

chefbea 7:55 AM  

Dumb puzzle!! The only one I have heard of is millennium bug. Of course I knew DAL

Marty 8:02 AM  

I love the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year. I look forward to it being announced every January.

Two Ponies 8:22 AM  

Nice to have a Tuesday that puts up a fight.

I wish I knew someone I could use Plutoed with in conversation but it probably would go something like Nickyboy's (6:17) example.

@ Paul Rippey, King Midas, ruler of all mufflers.

Does anyone bother with ESL anymore?

I didn't have a problem with using rescue as a noun. Decent misdirection.

Of all the examples Loren used the apostrophe is the one I hope never becomes the norm.

Poopypants 8:31 AM  

You know what's boring? Non-stop kvetching.

pmdm 8:40 AM  

The constructor mentions elsewhere (atXWordInfo for example) that his inspiration for this puzzle derives from something he read on a crossword blog. While he doesn't mention the blog by name, I would think the odds are excellent it was this very blog.

Yes, the fill was not that good in places. But I would expect that from a debut effort. It takes time to hone one's skills at anything. So congratulations on your debut. Hope to see one of your puzzles again.

snowmaiden 8:41 AM  

I've only ever heard "piano string". Yes, it's made of wire, but...Guitar wire? Harp wire?

newspaperguy 8:48 AM  

Re: rescue as a noun
Cleverness is my second least favourite trait. Arrogance tops the list. What an insufferable twit.

Trombone Tom 8:56 AM  

This was a mashup of great and not so great theme entries. LMS has already remarked cogently on the SINGULAR THEY. I have never heard or said PLUTOED. MILLENIUM BUG had its day. But DUMPSTER FIRE seems to me just so much green paint.

I join @snowmaiden in thinking PIANO WIRE is unheard of. Unless, of course, you are a company selling it to piano makers.

As usual I did learn of something new to me, the American Dialect Society. I look forward to their future awards.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

@ snowmaiden, I guess if you read enough crime fiction you will come across piano wire.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

More of a Wed-Thurs puzzle than a Tues.

PLUTOED is stupid on it's own; when crossed with KING MIN_S, blecch.

Normal Norm 9:02 AM  

Gay bar is on the "good" list?
Hey, let's play in feces and give each other an incurable disease!
Sure, where do I sign up?

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

A suggestion to those who feel compelled to post a comment carping about Rex's carping - stop reading the blog. No one has put a gun to your head. Reading the whinging in the comments is far worse than the blog entries themselves.

Mohair Sam 9:11 AM  

What @Lewis (5:44) said.

Fun puzzle, fun theme. Never heard of PLUTOED - my loss - what a great word.

Rex made light of the MILLENIUM BUG. I owned a small leasing company in the late '90s. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania put us through more than a little time and expense to prove that our computers did not have said "BUG". Huge nuisance.

TomAz 9:14 AM  

This played slightly faster than average for me. I didn't know PLUTOED but it was inferable. I was in Crete a couple years ago so KING MINOS was pretty straightforward.

@Loren Muse Smith: "maybe green-light using an apostrophe to mark plurals?"

Yeah, if Trump can be President, I suppose this is plausible. People too oblivious to tell fact from fiction certainly can't be expected to discern plural from possessive.

I do like SINGULAR THEY though, both as an answer and as a concept.

FPBear 9:15 AM  

Where is JAE?

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Thank you for PlLUTOED !! I had to laugh. Yes, folks, it's still a thing. Depends on your peer group, I guess. Enjoyed remembering the panic around Y2K. People were stocking their bomb shelters, etc. And thanks, too for the Sloop John B...had to go listen to The Beach Boys. Fun and lively Tuesday puzzle !

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:25 AM  

inrte Loren and the Apostrophe: I tried to write a text on my phone a few days ago, using the word 'its'.And every time I looked down I would find that auto-correct had turned it into 'it's'. I had to enter it a number of times before they let it stand. I was shocked.

The puzzle had too many 3-letter words, but was otherwise pleasant.

RAD2626 9:27 AM  

Second NYT debut puzzle in a row. Pretty cool. Congrats Greg on fun theme and great nostalgia. Enjoyed solving. Certainly remembered Y2K. Did not recall MILLENIUM BUG but fun to see it emerge through crosses. Interesting that it was in vogue by 1997. Do agree that RSTU, UIE, INO, ESE and ISM are a fairly large dose of Elmer's.

Sir Hillary 9:27 AM  

Good stuff, helped for me by the fact that I had no idea what the years referred to until I placed the revealer. Ignore "offal's" (LOL, @Robert A. Simon) comments today and focus on the nifty theme.

Show me a crossword puzzle with no "bad fill" and I'll show you an empty grid. The question becomes, does the bad fill outweigh the other good parts? Not by a longshot, today.

GAYBAR is good. When will GAYDAR make it in?

PLUTOED and DUMSPTERFIRE are fabulous.

Hasta MANANA...

jackj 9:29 AM  

Michael once again shoots his magic ray gun but misses his target when he performs the wordie's equivalent of picking fly crap out of pepper by trashing the BAILOUT answer.

The one word, “bailout” has been in use since 1939, per Merriam-Webster and this noun is missing only the word “a” as part of its clue. (Dropping the “a”, the “the” and the like are normal practices in crossword cluing and examples abound, even in today’s puzzle where 32 down, “Petty objection” is offered for CAVIL. One might infer it asks for the verb use but with an implied “a” it is, of course, a noun).

The professorial pedants among us should give credit where due and not cavil over clever crossword cluing; there was no need to call out bailout.

Nancy 9:30 AM  

But they're not the WORD OF THE YEAR. Other than PLUTOED, they're all phrases. Let me add my own phrase: TUESDAY IGNOMINY. That's not finishing on this particular day of the week. Here it's my own fault. While I don't see why I should know tED from NED (19A), AHMAD (25A) or even UHF (that's what you call those channels?), I certainly should have seen KING MINOS when I had KI--MINOS. But I was looking for a single word there. We all have those blind spot days, right? Anyway, I sort of had no idea what the puzzle was about, never having heard of the Annual American Dialect Society Award in the first place -- never mind the winners. I think this was the hardest Tuesday I've ever done. Or not done, to be more precise. I'm not complaining though; I did like the unexpected challenge, even though I could have done with fewer proper names.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  


jberg 9:37 AM  

I Love PLUTOED, have to find a way to use it. And btw, if a beach towel is a towel, than a dwarf planet is a planet. What’s important is not the classification, but the new understanding of its origins.

As for the grammar misdirection (rescue as a noun, pink as an adjective), that’s a feature, not a (non-MILLENIUM) BUG.

@Loren - like Fowler said, our language is a permanent war between idiom and analogy. I’ve given up correcting the misuse of “beg the question,” but now I don’t have a good way to point out when someone is doing it. I do correct apostrophes for plurals, but it’s a lost cause. I’m saving my strength to defend quotation marks.

I thought this was easier than most did— guess it was on my wave-length, or maybe in my wheelhouse. Anyway, right up my alley.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

I’m all for the singular they. People use it because their ears tell them to. (Just as my ear told me to end the previous sentence with “to.” Thank you, Strunk & White.) I love your example of correct but clanking usage. Here’s my favorite: “When one is breastfeeding in public, he should cover himself.”

Z 9:47 AM  

I would usually agree with Rex on the list as theme thing, but a list devoted to ever emerging language seems very appropriate as a crossword theme, so put me on team @LMS and @Lewis for this one.

@anonymous6:28 - This is a "damned if you do/damned if you don't" thing. If Rex doesn't add "for a Tuesday" we will see comments here with "how can he call it challenging when Saturday takes me 5x as long." So I hate to break it to you, but Rex doesn't give a rat's patooie what you or I think of his solving ability and adds that comment solely to make his inbox a little less cluttered.

@Two Ponies - ESL is still very important. Even though immigrant populations tend to live close together people still have to navigate a per-predominantly English speaking society. My grandmother lived a fairly reclusive life and I think her never learning English was a major factor.

Hey - It happened again. I'm standing on the Sarasota Polo Grounds between games this weekend (Ultimate games, not Polo) and a guy from Surly (from @George Barany country) comes up and asks, "Are you Z from the crossword blog?" Cool, huh? Surly won the tournament, my team managed to lead at halftime against Surly before losing, but did manage to finish 7th out of 8 after coming in seeded 8th. It was a fine way to spend a November weekend, but I am a bit behind on crosswords.

Hartley70 9:52 AM  

Oh Gosh. If I'm honest the point of this theme totally escaped me although I completed the puzzle in fine time. I have never heard of the august SOCIETY and most of these phrases seemed too obscure or too mundane to mean anything to me.

DUMPSTERFIRE is both mundane and obscure. I have no idea what it means except a fire in a dumpster. PLUTOED was just obscure. MILLENIUMBUG is so yesterday that I can only really remember Y2K. For some reason I kept thinking PIANOWIRE was part of this list and it was beyond mundane and obscure. APP went straight to ho-hum. I can't come up with a CAVIL about WMD and BAILOUT. They fit the theme well.

On the upside, GAYBAR was interesting and Loren made me appreciate SINGULARTHEY in a much fuller way. I'm going to have to check myself because I think I use it all the time. I've noticed that it's tough to be an apostrophe s plural if you sneak into this blog when you don't belong.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

OTOH I don’t think I’ve ever heard of piano string!

Different topic: I find it somewhat eyebrow-raising how many comments, probably unwittingly, seem to object to the inclusion, or maybe even the notion, of wordplay.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Excellent puzzle. A good challenge for a Tuesday, some interesting new words, and it’s always fun watching Rex have an irrational, hissy-fit meltdown. Makes me feel like a grown up.

Nancy 10:21 AM  

What I wish I'd written today: the 2nd sentence of @TomAz's 3rd paragraph (9:14). How true.

Like @Loren, I love the SINGULAR THEY. It makes life a whole lot easier, as Loren's convoluted him/her sentence makes abundantly clear. But I will never give up the apostrophe fight, nor the lie/lay fight, nor the less/fewer fight. And I implore the rest of you not to give up either.

Anon 9:41: (Also on the SINGULAR THEY) -- If you're going to be that amusing, you shouldn't be anonymous.

Bob Mills 10:26 AM  

Apparently someone in charge has never played poker. If you neither fold nor raise, you CALL, not STAY. In draw poker, you might decide not to draw, in which case you might say, "I'll stay with these." But that applies to the pre-auction phase of the deal. During the auction, one never "STAY(s)."

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:28 AM  

I had no problem interpreting "rescue" as a noun. Actually I didn't even think it was a problem.

I really liked the puzzle for some reason, but that's probably because I had too many Memberberries last night.

Tom 10:29 AM  

Finished this at 7:09 Pacific Standard Time last night (love getting that hour back), and wanted to post an early comment. No luck. Read the whole damned Sunday NYT, checked back four hours later, no dice. Came here upon waking and saw 50 comments. What kinds of lives do people live that they are posting at 5 in the morning? Anyway, faster than my average, paid no attention to the theme, kind of a yawner. PLUTOED was my favorite answer.

Unknown 10:34 AM  

Great Tuesday puzzle. This actually pushed my solving time up into the low end of the Saturday spectrum ( some Saturdays are just that easy.)
My first guess for 1A was ATODDS. There was no write over as it just didn't work but it was the first of many little misdirects that ate up time. NADIA, ADAM and DAL were unknowns. I don't read ahead for the revealer so the theme was something of a mystery for most of the solve.
My final correction was changing the KING from MINAS to MINOS. Obviously I was experiencing a little conflation there. Only with that O in place did 39A make any sense to me. Hard to think that the planetary demotion thing was 11 years ago.

@FPBear, good to know I'm not the only one wondering where @jae got to.

@lms, count me among those who are a little vague on the use of the apostrophe. Speaking of 'vague' until I started commenting here which side of the G the U belonged to was vague to me. Good thing I became a fireman.

puzzlehoarder 10:36 AM  

Once again I must have skipped a step the above comment was mine.

mathgent 10:42 AM  

Liked learning about the American Dialect Society and their Word of the Year. PLUTOED is my favorite. I'm going to try to use it.

Also enjoyed @LMS (6:49) showing how unsatisfactory it is to use "his or her" all the time. But using "they" or "their" doesn't quite work for me either. I tend to reword a sentence to avoid the problem. I liked @Anon (9:41) for the humorous example of why the old rule of using he/his/him to refer to a person of either sex isn't satisfactory.

Again LMS (6:49): Are you saying that we should use an apostrophe on all plural words? Because it's too hard to teach young people the proper use of an apostrophe?

@FrankStein (7:43): When I saw UTE, I also thought of Joe Pesci.

Jeff Chen said that RSTU should have disqualified the puzzle. I agree. And what about 30 Terrible Threes? Is that a record?

btgrover 10:43 AM  

What Bob said. Stay is not a poker term.

kitshef 10:50 AM  

@Nancy - I suspect you would really object to the Oxford Dictionaries 2015 "Word of the Year" - the 'face with tears of joy' emoji.

Chris 10:59 AM  

Geez, some of you people would complain about anything. FWIW, piano strings are made up of piano wire, which has lots of other uses, perhaps most infamously as a garrote. (I think Capt. Quint also uses it in his shark fishing rig in Jaws.) MILLENIUMBUG was certainly a thing, but of course has dropped out of use since, duh, we are past the turn of the millennium.
That said, RSTU is unacceptable.

Pete s 11:09 AM  

Words of the Year

Nominations for Words of the Year can be submitted all year long to woty@americandialect.org

jb129 11:14 AM  

Did it but didn't enjoy it - AT ALL.

clk 11:15 AM  

@Denise. But do you think you would have remembered that term if not for your costume? I only heard it referred to as Y2K, which was ubiquitous on the late 90s and seems to be the enduring historical term.

old timer 11:16 AM  

Two problems today. First, I put in Midas instead of MINOS. Second, I assumed the themers with (dates) were all movies. Once i found WORDOFTHEYEAR I was able to go back and clean up my mistakes.

RSTU is I think OK in a Monday or Tuesday puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 11:17 AM  

@Greater Fall River Committee for Peace and Justice - I’ll go you one better – a couple of weeks ago I grabbed my iPhone and said,

Hey Siri, add dry erase markers to my grocery list.
Siri, in his little British accent assured me, Ok. I’ve added it.

Here’s what appeared on my list:

Dry erase marker’s

I’m not making this up.

@jberg was not kidding. He really wasn’t – stopping this apostrophe-plural usage is a lost cause.

@Z – how cool. I’ll add being recognized out in the wild as a Rexite to my bucket list. That and meeting @Robert A. Simon in person. ;-)

Carola 11:18 AM  

Boring methodology alert: Solving on the NYT puzzle page, I can only use my iPad's external keyboard if I don't delete any incorrect letters or switch from Across to Down before getting to the SE corner (if I do either, I can only use the on-screen keyboard, which I dislike). So I go through all the Acrosses, entering only the "for sures" and then the same for the Downs.

I also found this a harder than usual Tuesday, with only a few Acrosses filled in on first pass. It happened that due to the constraints described above, I had the reveal before any of the other theme answers. Then it was a delight to go back and fill in those WORDs OF THE YEAR. PLUTOED made me laugh - I'd had a couple of the letters in place and couldn't imagine what word would fit there. I see @Rex's point about a random list, but I liked this word lover's little trip down memory lane.

Norman Epstein 11:19 AM  

There is no such thing as "stay" in poker!

Passing Shot 11:25 AM  

Thank you, Bob and Brian, Read the poker clue and dropped in “call” with no hesitation. That, plus thinking “no way could the down be RSTU” held me up for far too long. Nice to see another debut, but...

Masked and Anonymous 11:45 AM  

10 U's and 30 weejects? DUMPSTERFIRE and SINGULARTHEY and PLUTOED? The desperate daring-do of RSTU and A-ROPE? Wooow. And … the deal-sealin clincher, at my house … DAL! I have firmly learned DAL, playin WhirlyWord, while on recent road trips. Good ol weird lil friend DAL. Weeject of the day, come what may. But, I digress …
Primo debut puppy! Fiesty/fun TuesPuz! Rodeo! Arrrgghh! Gush. Sputter. Gurgle.

Oh yeah, and @RP … har. Well, good mornin, Sunshine. OEUF and may-yerd, dude. Too bad they haven't coined that there up-comin "TRUMPECTOMY" word of the year, yet. Then you'da grabbed the A-ROPE, and joined right up with the rodeo, I'd predict.

Also really admired that CAVIL word. Reminded me of somethin I was about to read, I reckon. [har & OEUF]

[bonus Help Desk insert … Noun example: A daring "rescue". QED.]

Thanx, Mr. Poulos. I was a computer jock back in the day, so yer MILLENNIUMBUG dug up some real funny old mainframe memories. Congratz on a great debut. Don't stop now.

Masked & Anonymo11Us


Honeysmom 11:54 AM  

Blah, blah, blah. Rex ranting re Rescue: If Bailout is a noun, then (a)Rescue is a noun. Duh. (Loved the OFL/Offal comment!)

Masked and Anonymous 11:57 AM  

OUEFPS! Shoulda signed prev. msg. "Masked & Anonymo10Us". [Musta accidentally counted OEUF twice.]


Would CATBIRDSEAT maybe have been a cool themer, in a recent puz, or what … ?

Alpha-Data 12:10 PM  

Meh. Hated RSTU! And UIE? Who spells it that way?

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

@Nancy re Word
"And now, a word from our sponsor..." always introduces a single word, doesn't it? I thought so too!
"Seven Last Words from the Cross" consists of exactly seven words, not seven sayings. Exactly. I thought so too!
Every word has exactly one and only one straightforward meaning. Everybody knows that. Wordplay is eliminated forever, as are ambiguity and complexity. Because, why not? It's more fun being simple.

Rescue me

Greg Poulos 12:16 PM  

@pmdm Keen eye :-)

Greg P. 12:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg Poulos 12:20 PM  

Thanks for the comments, everyone! It's super exciting to see folks responding to the puzzle.

CDilly52 12:21 PM  

LOL. Right there with you. If it’s good enough for Strunk & White, it’s good enough for me and I make my living with words.

Sam 12:23 PM  

ROSY is an adjective. Colors (e.g. pink) can be used as adjectives or nouns. I'm with you, though, that I would have liked the clue to be a little clearer about that they were looking for an adjective and not a noun, especially on a Tuesday.

Sam 12:29 PM  

All spellings of it bother me (UEY? UEE?) since it's not a word in any standard dictionary that I've ever seen. Wiktionary doesn't even have UIE, only UEY, and dictionary.com is pulling its definition for UIE from the Dictionary of American Slang

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

It's OK to be straight.

Phil 12:57 PM  

Played too much poker in my day. You bet,call,open,raise,reraise,fold,all in, check, in, out, pass. Some mean the same thing of course, but I can't imagine what stay means. The dealer probably would take the action as call even if a raise bet was thrown in if someone said 'stay', and nullify the raise.

CDilly52 1:01 PM  

Just because a puzzle is challenging “for a Tuesday” doesn’t make it bad. Language is a dynamic, creative, living testament (good and bad) to our ever-changing society. Accordingly, annual recognition of particularly apt descriptive words and phrases seems wholly appropriate to me.

That said, I agree with @Lewis 5:44 and @RAS 6:51: kudos to Mr. Poulos for a clever theme and at least for me a near DNF because of the NE and of forgetting KING MINOS (oops, had KING MIdaS...idiot). And as for the noun/verb complaint, come on, Rex, two word answers never have a space in them (KINGMINOS as an example). I get it, but whether a noun or verb parallelels the clue or not, BAILOUT would have no space in it on the grid! That’s a “pick” looking for a “nit” for sure.

While it was tougher in one spot for me than the average Tuesday, I enjoyed it. How can we denigrate a diversion that employs, recognizes oddities about and often honors language for doing exactly that by highlighting WORDSOFTHEYEAR (no spaces)?

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Pluto and vetoed portmanteau? PLUTOED, fun. I also haven't heard it flung around in conversation but I vow to try and add it to my vocabulary. "What do you mean, it was word of the year in 2006, get with it!"

_EW at 11A became yEW gardens. This made 11D yIN, looking much more Chinese than Greek. Oh, maybe it's mEW (as in London mews) gardens. mING not looking any less Chinese, ack, KING MINOS, yes.

I thought this puzzle was fun. Sure, as @Rex pointed out, the constructor probably stumbled onto a list or website somewhere, but to see the crossword potential in the list elevates the creativity in my book. MAGNUM OPUS for a Tuesday - thanks, Greg Poulos.

Kimberly 1:20 PM  

Not everyone enjoys the ADS or it’s recognition of the evolution of language via cultural impact. Some of us are delighted that it exists and is getting a bit of recognition here.

Of course, Rex would find a way to whine through winning the lottery.

One begins to wonder why he dedicates time to a blog about something he hates so much. It makes me sad for him. Perhaps the holiday season will help his grinchly heart expand a tad. Or maybe he’s of the ilk that thinks cynicism makes him look cool and I should be glad he’s found his path (albeit an odd one) to joy.

Masked and Anonymous 1:30 PM  


@phil phil: I'd grant that "STAY" seems more like a Blackjack game term to my ear, than a Poker term. It is also a great 1960s (1960's?) (yo, @muse) oldie by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs.

Sorry. I can't help but keep comin back today … liked this here puz flat-out sooo much! [I can't quit U, @PLUTOED!]

Just wanted to give honorable mention to some of the past ADS WOTY nominees who didn't quite bring home the Gold Bacon …

* BAE. *Have* seen this gurgle up some in crosswords, lately, tho. Sooo … it lives on.
* TWERK. As in: Scrabble-TWERKing ... or puttin too many high-value QJXZ's into yer grid, at the expense of U's [lil darlins].
* SELFIE. Cannot believe that both TWERK & SELFIE lost out to "because introducing a noun or adjective", as in: "because awesome". Was this the year that Trump was a judge?
* YOLO. Lost out to HASHTAG.
* CLIMATE CANARY. But PLUTOED deserved to win, in 2006. No contest.
* UIE. Just yankin yer chain, there, one time. har.
* DRACULA SNEEZE. That's like an elbow achoo, I think. Like.

Fun stuff. Great theme idea, worthy of mucho further exploration.
And thanx to the constructioneer, for droppin by. [Yo, @Poulosmeister: They give U any static about them 10 U's wedged into this puppy, or about yer puztheme, here's yer Phrase of the Day reply: TALKTOTHEHAND.]

"Duck soul brother of UIE, DUIE, & LUIE"

RosyMarie 1:41 PM  

Perhaps ROSY is referring to "In the Pink" rather than just the color.

G. Weissman 1:52 PM  

Your cheeks look pink. Your cheeks look rosy. Your cheeks look rosy pink.

Two Ponies 1:53 PM  

Dracula sneeze!!!

Now I really have to find a conversation to use that in.
Thanks M&A

Arden 1:54 PM  

Nice theme, well done. Rosy/Griffey messed me up. Ended with an e!

G. Weissman 1:54 PM  

You sound genuinely hurt, RAS.

G. Weissman 1:56 PM  

That’s not the common meaning of TWERK, except among some very sheltered white people.

thfenn 2:07 PM  

I had a good time with this one. Learned an acre is one chain by one furlong, and definitely going to add PLUTOED to my vocabulary. Agree with others that if you don't raise or fold in poker, and you only have 4 letters to do it, you call. STAY is what you do in Blackjack.

Masked and Anonymous 2:17 PM  


Day-um. This puztheme just don't run dry …

* SITBIT. Exercise device of choice, amongst sheltered, masked people.
* Naughties, Aughties, Oughties, etc. (alternative names for the decade 2000–2009)
* PUMA ("Party Unity My Ass" acronym)
* (The) CLOUD.
* REFUDIATE. {Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.]
* GOROGUE. [Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.]
* TRUMP. [Was named the children's "word of the year" by the Oxford University Press. (2017).] Evidently an example: “Suddenly I did the loudest trump EVER! The whole restaurant gasped, as if it was a crime."

Sorry. I'm done for the day. Honest. Please. No ShelbyGlidden comments, I beg of U. I'll be good. Pinky swear.

Outlaw M&A

kitshef 3:14 PM  

@M&A. "Because introducing a noun or adjective" is running naked neck with "won a time period", (as in, 'this adorbs costume won Halloween', or 'Kirk Cousins won the weekend') and "bae" as my least favorite modernisms.

No reply needed - you've caused ample peculiar looks from confused strangers wondering what I'm laughing at for one day.

blinker474 3:26 PM  

I have played enough poker to have heard "I'll stay", or "stay" many times. And all the other players knew what it meant.

Joe Dipinto 3:45 PM  

I would agree this played a little difficult for a Tuesday, but I enjoyed it for that reason. Well, except for the third-day-in-a-row Star Wars clue. (So many possibilities for cluing ADAM, even using Adam Driver, and they went with Star Wars.)

But all in all, a fine debut. I've never heard the term PLUTOED but I like it.

Lewis 4:09 PM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

"Why, yes, I am, in fact, a cow"
"Things seen in a shower"
"Big tower letters"
"Summers, back in the day"
"Interrupted mid-sentence"


Shelby Glidden 5:05 PM  

You said it!

Shelby Glidden 5:05 PM  

I thought so but maybe not.

Shelby Glidden 5:08 PM  

Maybe if those stinking homo-sexuals would keep to themselves there would be no problem, but you're right.

Shelby Glidden 5:08 PM  

Oh I had that answer too!

Shelby Glidden 5:09 PM  

You're so funny!

Shelby Glidden 5:10 PM  

I agree

Shelby Glidden 5:11 PM  

Are you? Give me your number and we can meet up for a drink.

Shelby Glidden 5:12 PM  

No I hate that!

Suzie Q 5:13 PM  

All right Shelby Glidden, I've had it with you.
First you have a Blue name now you have a Black
name so maybe someone is posing as you. Either way
your posts are beyond annoying. Figure out how to
post like everyone else. Subtle and not-so-subtle
hints have been dropped.

Shelby Glidden 5:18 PM  


Trombone Tom 6:39 PM  

Don't feed the trolls.

Sallie 6:46 PM  

Best Tuesday puzzle in a long long time. Words! Excellent theme for a crossword.

Phyllis Glidden 7:27 PM  

Shelby! You come up here this instant and wash up!

Shelby Glidden 7:28 PM  

But Mommmmmmmmmm

Phyllis Glidden 7:29 PM  

But nothing! Get up here or I'll call your father! Fred! Make him come up here!

Fred Glidden 7:31 PM  

Shaddup both'a yas! *buuuuuuuuuuurp*

Fred Romagnolo 7:50 PM  

Somewhat harder than most Tuesday's puzzles (Tuesday puzzles?), but doable (do-able?); more like a Wednesday (Wednesday's?). See what a labyrinth exactitude leads to (oops! ended a sentence with a preposition). Midas: gold; Minos: bull.

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

Stay is too a poker term. "I'll stay ---- meaning I'll call"

Joe Dipinto 10:23 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith 6:49 -- Actually, what I would say is:

Oh. Someone left a phone on the table. I'll take it with me, bring it to the office tomorrow, and send a blanket email around, so the person can retrieve it.

What an utterly condescending and thoroughly obnoxious post.

Girish 12:01 AM  

D Is For Dead Note

Girish 12:02 AM  

Hear, Hear...!!! Thsnks, A...

Girish 12:04 AM  


Girish 12:08 AM  

my time was doubled and i was guessing at the end... (Minos...Midas) 😬

Girish 12:18 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:18 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:19 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:19 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:20 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:20 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:20 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:21 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:21 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:22 AM  

someone else's post

Girish 12:23 AM  

not my post

Girish 12:24 AM  

someone else's post

Girish 12:25 AM  

someone else's post

Unknown 3:08 AM  

STAY is not a poker term, it's a blackjack term. In Poker you can Raise, check, call, or fold. There are a few other terms that are not STAY but you get the idea.

Hal 3:16 AM  

Channels 2-13 used to be VHF, for Very High Frequency. 14-83 were Ultra High Frequency. Back in the days of broadcast TV, VHF were the "good" channels, UHF channels were the wasteland of repeats and public access. Now, with cable, none of this matters. Extra point: Weird AL Yankovic was the star of a movie titled UHF, all about the hijinks at one of those stations.

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Blogger 2:42 PM  

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thefogman 10:16 AM  

Another DNF for me. I was INAJAM at the intersection of 11D and 35A. I had tIA instead of NIA because I knew nothing about the mythological king or the ̶G̶r̶e̶e̶k̶ Canadian actress. But now I do. I like it when a puzzle teaches you something. In spite of my one error, this one was clever and fun to solve. I wonder what the word of the year will be for 2017? Maybe covfefe?

Burma Shave 10:20 AM  


The BUSIEST hangman BRAGs of the UPROAR
that the SINGULARTHEY are INAJAM for.
and still CAVIL whether AROPE or PIANOWIRE.


spacecraft 11:44 AM  

DNBTF; total garbage. Letter string, horrible tight NE corner, entire grid choked with PPPs--and the dreaded UIE--I would waste not another second on this. Shortz's inbox must be EMPTY. This is something he found on the street, having missed the trash can. Not a bogey, nor even a double: this is one of those "others." Withdraw, dude.

Diana, LIW 12:19 PM  

Enjoyed the solving experience, but dnf over the MILLENIUMBUy. Not up on my Cretins. Must put that on the list with memorizing the periodical table.

Some of the most tedious hours of my life were spent attempting to make my dissertation comply with APA rules. They do not recognize the SINGULARTHEY. Ugh. Refused to write "his or her" a thousand times. Agree with LMS' delight.

I wonder where on THIS planet folks uttered the PLUTOED phrase? P'raps it's an astronomers' in joke.

Hey @Spacey - did I ever mention that I once solved a Michael Sharp puzzle (in a NYT anthology) that had a letter string in it? Build your house of glass...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 2:15 PM  

Almost spaced on the _MD (probably because there were none) and was wondering how on earth KEnsington Gardens would fit into KE_. But that W came to mind and 2 of the 30 threes were complete. That’s 38.5% of the answers as three letter words. High by any standard. And now I think I’ve figured out how to construct a puz with NO black squares; 15 letter strings in both directions! Come to think of it, it’d have to be a 13 X 13 or 13 X 14 grid. Rats.

Used to love MAGNUM, P.I.

NED was DEAD. That’s why THEY were waking him.

Long before any Kardashians there were Gabors, including Miss Hungary 1936 yeah baby ZSA ZSA. Fill in a NIP joke here. How about that, dahling? SALUT!

Fun list of words, but oof. Or UHF. Or OEUF.

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

From Syndication Land:

I can understand @spacecraft's frustration with this puzzle. It was totally misplaced on a Tuesday. If it ran on a Thursday, I would be expecting a bit of a challenge, but because it's Tuesday, I was a bit miffed at how difficult it was. After finishing the solve, I find that I really like the puzzle and find "word of the year" a great theme for a crossword puzzle!

leftcoastTAM 2:42 PM  

Yes, challenging Tuesday, and not down on it like Rex. Having not heard of the Dialect Society's WORDOFTHEYEAR, thought it was interersting and clever.

PLUTOED slowed me down, and WMD was my error in the NE. Wanted IED, knowing that WMD was just a shameful ruse and didn't deserve the Society's recognition. Thus DNF with a couple of dumb entries (KEi and ieD) in the corner.

Paused over the double UPS in UPROAR and HOLDUP, but no CAVIL here.

Liked the Tuesday challenge.

rainforest 4:47 PM  

Once again, way late, but this puzzle is worth a comment.

I liked the theme, and I liked the idea of the theme. I do not understand the kerfuffle about whether BAIL/rescue can be a verb or noun. Answer: you're both correct.

I'm a traditionalist and so I'm in @LMS' camp. It's worth fighting for, in my opinion.

Head slap on PLUTOED. I agonized over that until I recalled the flap about Pluto's demotion. Should never have happened - he was always loyal to Mickey.

Anyway, I'd call this easy/medium and interesting, to boot. I don't care how many 3s there are. 3s are words too, you know. I could blather on, but if I do, my comment will just get PLUTOED.

rondo 8:41 PM  

I realize not all puzzles will have those fascinating long stacks that some constructors can magically visualize and publish, but puzzles with this many threes usually belong in the paper's want ads section with those other uncredited puzzles.
The only difference is this puz had a cool word list theme.

rondo 8:43 PM  

I realize not all puzzles will have those fascinating long stacks that some constructors can magically visualize and publish, but puzzles with this many threes usually belong in the paper's want ads section with those other uncredited puzzles.
The only difference is this puz had a cool word list theme.

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