MGWCC #326

crossword untimed
meta about 20 minutes 
Hi, brief write-up today from Evad, pinch-hitting for joon.

mgwcc326 For Matt’s 326th installment of his weekly crossword contest, we are asked to supply the missing clue for 1-Across. As far as theme entries go, only one is starred and that is 40-Across: [Vulgar things which the majority of crosswords do not contain*] (important to note the “do not” instead of the more common “don’t” here) or FOUR-LETTER WORDS. Two other 15-letter entries cross that in the down direction:

  • 5-Down: [You probably hear it every day] or ENGLISH LANGUAGE, and
  • 10-Down: [Forced unions] or SHOTGUN WEDDINGS.

Neither of these were starred like the central across entry, so my initial assumption was that they were not thematic.

Given the central entry, I went on a hunt for these four-letter words in the grid. In fact, I wasn’t surprised that there were none, given that we were asked to supply a clue for an entry, so my spidey sense told me that I would find these words in other clues. Not only that, I expected to find 9 given the title “I Beg Your Part Ten!” assuming that we were to supply the tenth “part” (whatever that would turn out to be). Lucky guesses all around for me this week!

So what are those 9 four-letter words found in the clues? Here are the clues in which they can be found:

  • 18-Across: [Reached at a swift clip] or RAN TO
  • 66-Across: [Thing in a tote bag, maybe] or GLOVE
  • 5-Down: [You probably hear it every day] or ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  • 11-Down: [Fonda and Eyre] or JANES
  • 13-Down: [Crib ___] or NOTES
  • 24-Down: [Measurement on a ship] or DRAFT
  • 37-Down: [Warm pressers] or IRONS (spidey sense again alerted on the oddness of this clue)
  • 48-Down: [It colonized Guam] or SPAIN (odd way to clue a country)
  • 63-Down: [Nat. where Lego was created] or DEN (odd again to clue a legitimate word as an abbrev., and also wouldn’t one say “Legos” in this context?)

Just when you thought it was safe to head back to the water!

So I then made a list of these four-letter words and found that they all become body parts if you remove one letter. Hence: lip, toe, ear, eye, rib, hip, arm, gum (or gam?), and leg, respectively. So depending if you filled in 1-across as MOVIE or MOXIE, your submission would either have something to do with the movie “Jaws” or a synonym of moxie being “guts.” Both of these become body parts, namely jaw and gut, when removing that final s.

There are other 3-letter body parts–ass (perhaps the most appropriate choice given the central entry?), abs, lap and either gum or gam depending on how you manipulated Guam–but none of them relate to MO[V|X]IE as well as Jaws and guts, imho. So how did this week 5-of-5 treat you?

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37 Responses to MGWCC #326

  1. icdogg says:

    Welp… that one was a little out of my league, at least for now…

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    A few things:

    ***Believe it or not, that 3-D [Sundial number] could form either MOVIE (intended) or MOXIE (unintended) at 1-A was a total surprise to me. That there is then a 4-letter word that both means “moxie” and can drop a letter to get a three-letter body part — GUT(S) — is incredible. The 14 solvers who submitted that get full credit.

    ***143 solvers total got the meta, 124 of which submitted a JAWS clue. There were a handful that submitted using a less technical body part (usually “ass”, as in a clue with “pass” in it. I’m taking those as well. The answers to the old “Name ten three-letter body parts” are pretty canonical, but hey, an ass is part of the body, so…

    ***Sorry for the clue change at 24-D. In a last look at the puzzle I was horrified to see that I had ABS at 23-A, so quickly changed that corner. Lots of moving parts to this, though, so I didn’t notice that I had removed the word “ship” from the old 24-D (which was ABAFT).

    If you both a) didn’t see the clue change until after the deadline AND b) had the body parts idea, e-mail me at and I think I have to give you credit since it was my mistake.

    • John says:

      Funny, i’m not crazy about JAWS as an answer. the other 4-letter words are plainly not simply forms of the body-part word, as in a plural. So, scatological concerns aside, JAW as the body part and JAWS as the clue word is pretty inelegant. i went for one of the PASS clues, thinking Matt’s allusion to “vulgar” in the starred clue was another click to a lock.

      i didn’t think of LAP, but then that doesn’t seem like a body part either.

      • Shawn P says:

        Since moving to the Philadelphia area, I learned a slang term (I believe it is local) that replaces any noun: Jawn. As in “The jawn in Jawn falls mainly on the jawn”. It could have been a one word clue for MOVIE.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    PS thanks for posting this, Evad.

  4. Gifo says:

    An alternate solution : the crying game, for gam.

  5. I was almost there, but I wasn’t able to notice that all of the 4-letter clues were 1 letter off from a body part. I sent in a clue for MOXIE with the 4-letter word soda in it (also considered the synonymous ‘soft drink’) as a guess.

    One other thing that bothered me was that the clue for 63D had “Nat.” in it and NAT was in the grid right above it at 47A.

    • dave glasser says:

      Yeah, I found the four letter words but not the body part. Because the middle letter of 1A was ambiguous and the other 9 entries had odd length, I thought we had to somehow order the middle letters of the 10 entries to get a message; that would lock down V vs X. But couldn’t figure out the message so just submitted “film”.

  6. Dan Seidman says:

    I assumed the MOXIE/MOVIE ambiguity was just to add a little extra misdirection. It never occurred to me that GUTS could have been an alternative to JAWS. And it certainly didn’t occur to me that it could have been coincidence. I spent a little time looking for ambiguity around GLOVE in the bottom right, since the tote bag clue was a little iffy.

    I loved how well the multiple steps in this puzzle were executed.

  7. John says:

    I submitted a clue with “jawa” instead of “jaws”, because the other 9 enteries changed etymology when you dropped the letter, plus if you anagram the dropped letters with the dropped a from jawa, you get “Oscar watch”, which relates back to “movie”

  8. Jim S. says:

    I came up with the idea to ID 4 letter words in clues, but I missed a ton of them and didn’t see enough linking the ones that I did find to continue digging deeper. Only this AM did I realize that the clue change mistake probably played a part in the solution, but I was working from the old one. Not sure I would have ever made the leap to body parts, then to Jaws. Youch!

    Assuming I had made the leap, would something like “What ‘Jaws’ was back in the 70s” have done the trick? Basically, as long as “Jaws” is in the clue and the answer to that clue is “movie” it would be considered correct?

    • Evad says:

      It’s a bit inelegant to include non-theme-related four-letter words in your clue, but anything that mentions Jaws (or Jawa or JLaw, etc.) is fine.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Yeah I didn’t penalize for stray 4-letter words in the clue, seemed cruel to do so.

        • Jim S. says:

          Ah, yes – good point on my clue example. I guess that shows exactly why I wasn’t able to find the 9 clues with 4 letter words (I only came up with 6!).

          Very solid meta and not as much of a “did he really expect me to make those connections?” reaction as some of the previous late-month puzzles for me.

        • pgw says:

          Huh; I was careful not to include any additional 4-letter words in my clue, since to do so would have destroyed the theme. After all that hard work on your part to avoid 4-letter words throughout, expecting us to do it in one measly clue doesn’t seem cruel at all.

          Incidentally, the grid does contain four-letter words (FOUR and PLUS), just no four-letter entries. You need to think creatively, but both of those sort of loosely fit the pattern as well.

          I thought about a clue with “jawa” based on the same concern about using a part of the same word as the body part, but I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t sound hopelessly clunky such as “A jawa is a _____ character.”

  9. Ephraim says:

    An observation that led nowhere: the clue for 40a also describes FOUL WORDS, a subset of FOUR LETTER WORDS, and 5d also describes SLANG, a subset of ENGLISH LANGUAGE. But then there’s 10d, “Forced unions” = SHOTGUN WEDDINGS. HOUNDINGS? SOUNDINGS? TWINS? It totally doesn’t work.

    And here I was thinking that the MOVIE / MOXIE ambiguity was part of your devious plan.

  10. Bencoe says:

    Didn’t get this, but I like the JAWS answer with the title “Part Ten” better than the GUTS answer, as it seems to refer to the fact that they made way too many “Jaws” sequels.

  11. Ephraim says:

    Another useless observation: There were a suspicious number of alliterative two-word clues. We had “Djerba deity”, “Dijon denial”, “Mighty Mel”, “Great grade”, and “Pound pieces”. (Which last could be a clue for KIBBLE, don’t you think? Though I first tried POEMS.)

    • TimM says:

      I also got thrown off by:

      – The weirdly worded clue for PUN (A favorite Shakespeare device). The “A” seemed superfluous.
      – The clue for SIS referred to the old commercial for Connect Four, which led me to look for ways to connect the four letter words together to make phrases? other words?
      – There seem to be a lot of Ys in the cluing this week.
      – The answer to “It’s currency is the U.S. Dollar” could also be GUAM.

      After a lot of blind alleys, I just wrote all of the four letter clue words in a list, and it popped out. This one seemed to have more misdirection than most.

    • Jeff M says:

      Ditto on the alliterative clues. There were eight of them…and i seem to remember a ninth being something like, “k– ch– (with the k sound)” so spent weekend wondering if it was worth extra effort…(see?)

    • Flinty Steve says:

      There were also nine fill-in-the-blank clues, not that they led to anything. Oh, the time I waste . . .

  12. Shawn P says:

    I also got just as far as figuring out that there were nine four letter words in clues, but did not figure out the body part theme and submitted a clue with a four letter word in it as my submission (I also had MOXIE as 1 Across). I still don’t see anything body part related in the name of the puzzle, the theme entry, or anywhere in the puzzle, but kudos to those who did. One thing I did notice, though, is that A PLUS (26 Down) contains a four letter word.

    • TimM says:

      The title refers to the canonical ten three-letter body parts, so you’re looking for (body) part ten to complete the theme.

      • Shawn P says:

        Thanks Tim. I don’t recall hearing of that, but when I Googled “Ten Three”, it was the third thing that came up. Oh well… I’ll get em next week.

    • Bob Kerfuffle says:

      @pgw and @Shawn P – I believe neither FOUR-LETTER nor A-PLUS contain four-letter words; in both cases the four-letter parts are just that, pieces of a single though hyphenated word.

      I, too, thought that the MOVIE/MOXIE ambiguity was the key to the meta. I also didn’t solve the meta. I toyed with submitting “Film” as my answer, but only because that would have been a tenth four-letter word appearing in the clues. (If it were MOVIE.) (“Part Ten”?) But the X would have been Roman numeral ten, if it had been MOXIE, and I couldn’t see a clear connection to either!

  13. Dave and Tilly says:

    We found the four letter words but didn’t make the body part connection. But even before that, we were led astray by all the two-word alliterative clues. There were 7 or 8, depending on whether you count “Stephen Strasburg, e.g.” Checking the last few MGWCC puzzles, I only found about three per puzzle, so 8 seemed like enough to be significant, and a similar clue for 1 Across would make 9. “Shotgun Weddings” made us look for ways to force words or clues together. As time ran out, we forced together the alliterative clue idea with the four-letter word idea to come up with “Feature Film.” (It didn’t help that I momentarily got confused about the numbers, and thought this would be the 10th alliterative clue.) We knew we must have missed something, but that answer seemed plausible enough to submit.

  14. Spongeamy says:

    Was it intentional to have nine fill-in-the-blank clues? And yes, I went with that even though I knew it had to be wrong. Never dreamed there would only be 9 four letter words in the clues. Clue-based metas get me every time!

  15. Norm H says:

    Took me a long time to figure out the link from four-letter clue words to body parts.

    Once I did, I considered clues with both gut(s) and (s)ass for MOXIE, but ultimately decided to base mine on the more canonical list of three-letter body parts, which includes jaw but not lap, gut, ass, gam, etc.

    I decided to go with J-Law (Jennifer Lawrence) in my clue, because I wasn’t crazy about the simple pluralization of Jaws. Ms. Lawrence being primarily a film actress, creating a clue for MOVIE was easy, but I was tempted to create one for MOXIE because most of her characters have lots of it, and by outward appearances she does herself as well.

    This was a good one — not only was it a hard meta, but it left room for creativity in the response. Matt, please share some of your favorites in your write-up this week.

  16. Abide says:

    I took the same path as Evad, but it was a slow crawl compared to his brisk walk.

    I didn’t start looking at the clues until Day 2. Somehow after checking the clues twice I had only eight four letter words, with “ship” unnoticed. So I thought I needed two four letter words to define MOVIE or MOXIE. I considered “True Grit” (which defines both!) but there wasn’t a click yet.

    Since I had eight words, I considered deleting one letter from each to spell out my eight-letter, two word entry. Fortunately “True Grit” didn’t work, although I could get to 7 of the 8 letters.

    In the course of deleting letters I eventually noticed the body parts, and a quick Google told me I was missing jaw and hip. So now my entry was going to be “Jaws ship”, which is a neat inside joke for ORCA. Verrrry clever Matt! But since 1-A was NOT “orca” (which would have violated the puzzle), I did a slow read through the clues–marking out words as I went–and eventually found my ghost ship.

  17. Eduardo says:

    I submitted “True Grit” thinking it was a clue to both MOXIE and MOVIE, in four letters. Never saw the body part thing. I need to get out more.

  18. bwouns says:

    Perhaps we’ll never know, but I’m wondering how many people who got this correct would have missed it if they weren’t clued in by the change in clues due to Matt’s initial mistake. It was certainly a cue that the clues were key to solving. One way of avoiding this would be if Matt made other irrelevant changes so as to camouflage the ‘hint’.

    • Evad says:

      I never opened the first version of the puzzle, but I would say that it’s pretty clear clues are involved based on what we were asked to supply as our meta entry. I doubt the change in a clue from 326.1 to 326.2 made that any more obvious to solvers.

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