August 06, 2009

Note to cruciverbalists

There's a clue for RIME that I've seen several times: "Frost, to Frost" (or similar). And it's true, "rime" is a word that means "frost" which has a bit of a poetic air about it (although "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" has nothing to do with shipboard defrosting equipment). However, a search of the complete poems of Robert Frost reveals that the word "rime" never appears in a single Robert Frost poem. Therefore: sorry, but no.

And yes, being a puzzle editor is like this all the time.

Posted by Francis at 05:43 PM

Does the word "frost" appear? If not, maybe he just didn't have a reason to use either word, but if he had, he would have used "rime"...?

Posted by: Doug Orleans at August 6, 2009 07:19 PM

So "rime" as a variant of "rhyme" won't cut it? Frost's poems rhyme, yes?

(caveat: not that good at crossword puzzles.)

Posted by: Janice in GA at August 6, 2009 07:25 PM

Any idea if the "Dusk, to Donne" clue for EEN is similarly flawed?

Posted by: Todd at August 6, 2009 07:31 PM

I can't believe I'm playing devil's advocate and thereby defending NYT style cluing, but: The clue doesn't say Robert Frost used the word "rime" to mean "frost" in a poem. RF is being invoked as a generic poet, and poets use "rime" for "frost." Which is not to say that I don't understand your objection. Only that I think you're overreacting to a harmless convention.

Now, about "Kind of dog" for HOT ....

Posted by: Jon Delfin at August 7, 2009 12:55 PM

Janice: That would only work as "Archaic word for what some of Frost's poems do". And that clue is never getting written.

Todd: If I find a searchable Donne anthology, I'll look, though "e'en" meaning "evening" might be buried amid a sea of instances of "e'en" as an adverb. (Same thing with "o'er", as in "Done, to Donne".)

Jon: Yes, "Kind of dog" for HOT is worse. But I disagree that using Frost as a signifier for "some poet or other" is legit, especially when he's a modern poet and "rime" is on the old-timey side. Just because it's solvable doesn't mean it should get a pass for not actually being accurate.

Posted by: Francis at August 7, 2009 01:08 PM

Would a "maybe" tacked on the end satisfy you?

Posted by: Toonhead! at August 7, 2009 01:35 PM

I would accept the clue "Frost, to Frost, inasmuch as Robert Frost was a human being who knew English and was probably aware of synonyms of the word 'frost' even if he never used them in a poem".

Posted by: Francis at August 7, 2009 01:39 PM

My objection is more on the order of "This was vaguely clever the first time it was done, but by now it's just stale."

Posted by: David. at August 7, 2009 01:54 PM

How about "Red Rose" for PETE?

Posted by: Skullturf Q. Beavispants at August 8, 2009 10:50 AM

I don't see what's wrong with "Kind of dog."

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