September 30, 2005

New Word of the Day

So anyway, I was doing a crossword puzzle on my way to work this morning. My morning paper has two crossword puzzles in it. One is somewhat challenging; the other is insultingly easy. When I got stuck on the challenging one, and I would be at my stop in less than ten minutes, I opted to solve the insultingly easy one.

This is the NEA Crossword Puzzle. It's not just that it has a lot of common words (no fun with puns allowed!), and a generous smattering of those words that seem to show up in every other puzzle you come across, it's that it's devoid of creative clue-giving. F'rinstance: The word is "JOAN". A clever clue might be "Rivers running at the mouth". But the NEA clue? "Singer Baez". Or, the word is "GLASS". A tricky clue might be "It might be painted". The NEA clue? "Beverage holder".

So, I was storming my way through the NEA puzzle when I came to the clue "Trinket". I was about to write BAUBLE, but figured I'd get a crossword or two in just to be sure.

I worked out all the crosswords. They fit like spoons in a kitchen drawer, but the word for "trinket" looked like nonsense: "GEWGAW". What the huh? I must've made a mistake somewhere. Nope. Everything's what it just has to be. But it can't be! What the @#$% is this GEWGAW?!

So, when I got to work I grabbed my trusty American Heritage paperback dictionary. Sho' 'nuff, there it is.

gew-gaw (gyoo'go') n. A trinket; bauble. [Orig. unknown.]

I must've solved thousands of crossword puzzles over the years and years. Leave it to the angeringly insulting NEA to be the first that I've seen with gewgaw in it.

Can a word be allowed to be a word when nobody uses says it?



Posted by Tuning Spork at September 30, 2005 09:58 PM | TrackBack
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