It’s time for an updated dump of nifty words encountered over the years while doing the Times Crossword. Crosswordese like this probably only accounts for about 25%-30% of the words encountered in a typical puzzle but knowing them can often be the difference between finishing or not! Here are over 200 organized by category.


General Vocab

ABSEIL, descend by rope, as in mountaineering

ACACIA, tree favored by giraffes. A thorny tree.

ACAI, a trendy berry with more vowels than nutrients.

ADZ, wood-shaping tool

AEGIS, protection/backing/support of a particular person or organization; shield

AGLET, a small plastic or metal cladding on the end of shoelaces

AGUE, fit of shivering

ALB, long white linen robe

ANORAK, a heavy jacket with a hood; a parka

ANODYNE, intended to avoid offense

APHID, a minute bug that feeds by sucking sap from plants. Pest. Source of honeydew.

APSE, a domed, semi-circular recess in a church

ARCADIA, a place of rustic innocence and quiet pleasure

ARETE, a sharp mountain ridge

ASHLAR, square cut masonry

ATTAR, pale yellow essential oil

BABA, a small rum cake

BERM, mound of earth

CADGE, to bum, begging

CARA, a term of endearment

CAY, small island, a.k.a. “key”

CHITIN, polymer found in exoskeleton

COIR, the stiff fibers from the outer husk of a coconut

COPSE, a thicket

COZEN, to hoodwink

DEKE, hockey penalty

DINT, force or effort, i.e., succeeded by dint of hard work.

DOLOR, sorrow or grief

DRECK, trash/rubbish

DROSS, an impurity, rubbish

ÉCLAT, a stroke of brilliance

EGEST, opposite of digest, to excrete

ENNEAD, a group of nine

EPAULET, an ornamental shoulder pad

EREMITE, another name for a hermit

ÉTUI, a case for holding needles

FEN, a bog

FROSH, slang for freshmen

GARNET, dark red gemstone

GHYLL, a narrow mountain stream

GNAR, snarl, growl

GOURMAND, one who eats/drinks to an excess; a foodie

HIE, go quickly

HOI POLLOI, rabble, crowd

IRENIC, aimed at peace

KEPI, French headdress/hat

LARDERS, pantries

LAIC, secular

LINAGE, number of printed lines

LOESS, windblown soil

LUMBAGO, back pain

MASSE, pool shot with spin

MANSE, home of a parish priest

METE, distribute, give out

MONAD, a simple organism

MOTES, small particles

MOUE, pouty expression

NACRE, mother of pearl

OBI, a Japanese sash

OGEE, curved molding

OLIO, odds and ends

ORIEL, a bay window

ORT, table scrap

OSIER, common basket-weaving material

OUTRÉ, unusual, bizarre

PICOT, embroidery loop

PILCROW, the § section symbol

PLUOT, a hybrid fruit: plum + apricot

RILL, a small stream

RIME, accumulation of ice due to wind

ROSTRA, Roman speaker platform

ROUÉ, a man devoted to sensual pleasure

SAMPAN, a Chinese wooden boat

SARD, a reddish brown gem

SALTS, socks away

SCHIST, a coarse-grained rock

SCHUSS, a straight downhill ski run

SCOW, a flat bottomed boat

SCRAG, an unattractively skinny person or animal

SERE, bone-dry

SITOOTERIE, a summer house, gazebo

SKOSH, a little bit

SLUE, swivel on an axis

SPAR, the pole on ships (modern term is mast) sometimes used for flag

STELE, an engraved stone or marker

SYNOD, a council of the church

TAM, a Scottish cap for men

TARES, reset as in a scale

THRALL, a state of bondage

TOGS, clothes, duds

TOR, rock outcropping formed by weathering

TOLE, lacquered metalware

TRIOKA, a group of three

TRUNCHEON, police baton

UGLI, a Jamaican hybrid fruit

ULU, an Eskimo knife

UMAMI, savory taste is one of the five basic tastes together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness

WAG, joker

YURT, “glamping” tent

ZAFTIG, full-bodied

ZIGGURAT, an ancient temple tower



AKITA, a curly-tailed dog

COB, male swan

ERMINE, a weasel of northern regions, having dark brown fur that in winter changes to white.

GAM, a group of whales

MOA, extinct ostrich

OKAPI, giraffe like animal

OPAH, a brightly colored fish, a sunfish

PEN, female swan

PTEROSAUR, “tero-saur”, flying reptile from the Mesozoic period

RHEA, bird, cousin of the Emu



AAR/AARE, a river that rises and ends in Switzerland

ALTAI, mountains between Russia and Mongolia

AMMAN, Jordan capital

ANDORRA, a European mini-state landlocked by Spain and France

APIA, capital of Samoa

ARNO, a river in Tuscany (Italy)

ASTANA, capital of Kazakhstan

ASWAN, city on the Nile in southern Egypt. Home of the Temple of Isis.

CAM, a river in England that flows through Cambridge.

EBRO, Spain’s longest river

ELBE, a river that runs through the Czech Republic and Germany 

ETNA, Sicilian volcano

MACAU,  a former colony of the Portuguese Empire, after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post in 1557.

Mauna LOA or KEA, Hawaiian volcanos

MUSCAT, capital of Oman

NEGEV, desert in Israel

ODER, Baltic river

OTARU, port city in Japan

OUSE, one of four rivers in the UK with the same name. One runs through York.

RUHR, river connecting the Rhine

SANA/SANAA, capital of Yemen

SIROCCO, winds that originate from Africa and can effect Europe

SOO, locks connecting rivers in the Great Lake region

SUVA, capital of Fiji

ULAN BATOR, capital of Mongolia

ULM, city in Germany, home of Einstein

YALU, river in China bordering South Korea

YSER, French/Belgian river



AKIRA, ____ Kurosawa, film maker

ALVA, Thomas A__ Edison

ANYA, ___ Seton historical romance novelist

CASCA, a Julius Caesar assassin

CATO, The Younger, Roman statesman, foe of Julius Caesar

CATT, Carrie Chapman __, Suffragist

EBAN, Abba ___, Israeli diplomat

EL CID, a Castilian knight and warlord in medieval Spain

ELIA KAZAN, director

ELIE, __ Weisel, author

ERLE, __ Stanley Gardener, author of Perry Mason.

ERTÉ, Deco artist

HODA KOTB, Regis co-host

I.M. PEI, architect. Pyramid at the Louvre.

LAHR, Bert ___, actor from the Wizard of Oz. The “cowardly lion” actor.

LAO TSE, philosopher. A.k.a., Laozi, Lao-Tze, and Lao Tzu.

OONA, __ Chaplin, actress

OSAKA, Naomi ___, world tennis champion

RIIS, Jacob R__, muckraking journalist

SELES, Monica ___, tennis


Proper Names, Products and Abbreviations

AER LINGUS, Irish airline

AGA, Mideast title

AMOCO, oil/gas company with atorch in its logo

AMATI, violin maker from Cremona, Italy

ALAI, as in Jai Alai, a Basque game

APO, Army Post Office

ATRA, Gillette razor

AVIA, brand of shoes, mostly running shoes

ESPY, annual sports award

LST, D-Day landing craft

OAS, Western treaty grp., the Organization of American States

SALADA, a brand of tea

STE, abbr. for French holy woman

TEC, old nickname for a private detective

UTNE, as in the Utne Reader.


Literature & Film

EDDA, as in Poet Edda, Icelandic literary work

ELOI, creatures in Time Machine

ENDOR, Star Wars planet for Ewoks

ENID, Camelot lady

ESME, Salinger title girl

IAGO, Othello nemesis

IONA, Macbeth’s burial site

LAERTES, Hamlet’s nemesis

MRMOTO, fictional detective (“Mr. Moto”)

NOH, a classical Japanese dance-drama

OBERON, Shakespearean fairy king

PADUA, setting for Taming of the Shrew

WAKANDA, a fictional sub-Saharan country found in Marvel Comics. Home to the superhero Black Panther.


Religion & Mythology

ADONAI, a Hebrew name for God

AGNI, Hindu fire god

AMONRA, “Amon-Ra,” the king of the Upper Egyptian gods — also amun-ra or amen-ra

CLIO, Muse of history, one of the nine muses.

ENOS, found in Genesis, son of Seth, died at 905 years old

EOS, goddess of the dawn

ERATO, one of the nine muses: love poetry

ESAU, twin of Jacob, son of Isaac

ICHOR, the blood of the gods and other immortals in Greek mythology.

IMAM, Muslim prayer leader

KAABA, small shrine located near the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca

LORELEI, singing siren or a German river

NYX, goddess of the night

OREAD, mountain nymph

OSIRIS, Egyptian god of the afterlife, brother of Isis



ASSAI, “very” as in “allegro assai”

ERI TU, a Verdi opera aria

IRAE, “Dies Irae” hymn

LE CID, an opera

LENTANDO, a gradual slowing in music

MENO MOSSO, performed less quickly

MEZZA VOCE, singing in half-voice



ALEUT, Alaskan native

CAYUGA, Native American Tribe from New York State

CREE, Northern US native; as a language: related to Algonquian language

ERIE, tribe based in NY

HOPI, native of northern Arizona; Pueblo people

LETT, Baltic native; Latvian

OLMEC, the earliest known major Mesoamerican civilization

OSAGE, tribe based in Oklahoma

OTOE/OTO, tribe based in Missouri

UTE, Utah-based native

ZIA, Indigenous people from New Mexico; the Zia sun symbol



AZUL, blue



ESTE, East

SRA/SRTA, Mrs./Miss



ECCE, “behold” in Latin

ERAT, the E in QED

EX NIHILO, out of nothing

ID EST, i.e., “i.e.” !!

MENS REA, legal term

RES PUBLICA, Latin for public affair; republic


Assorted Other Languages

ADAR, 12th month of Jewish calendar

ALEPH, Hebrew alphabet letter, first letter in alphabet

AUF, as in Auf Wiedersehen

ERSE, old welsh/Scottish language

GROSZ & ZLOTY, Polish currency

ODA, the Turkish word from “room”, or a room within a harem

OSSO BUCO, Italian veal dish



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.