MGWCC #508

crossword 4:31 
meta 2 minutes 


hello and welcome to episode #508 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Lost in Translation”. for this week 4 puzzle of share the love month, the instructions tell us that we are looking for 5-letter capitalized word. what are the theme answers?

  • {Creole breakfast dish} EGGS SARDOU. not familiar with this dish. is it anything to do with french dramatist victorien sardou, who wrote la tosca (on which a puccini opera is based) and fédora (which became the eponym of a hat)? apparently the answer is yes.
  • {Activity} THING TO DO.
  • {Many movies revolve around them} ROAD TRIPS. you wouldn’t believe how long i had ACID TRIPS in the grid. seriously.
  • {Second-greatest TV program of all time, per TV Guide} I LOVE LUCY. what’s #1? apparently seinfeld. eh.
  • {“I hate saying this, but…”} TO BE HONEST.

the title was, prima facie, a big nudge that we’d be dealing with a foreign language, and i guessed ab initio we might be translating the start of each theme answer. (you certainly can’t translate SARDOU.) viz:

  • EGGS = OVA
  • I LOVE = AMO
  • TO BE = ESSE

also check it out:

  • {Figure without a corner} OVAL.
  • {Fighting god} ARES.
  • {Concentration of a solution, in chemistry} TITER.
  • {French mine} À MOI.
  • {Mayor Thomas Kufen’s city} ESSEN.

taken in order, those letters that were “lost in translation” spell out LATIN, the relevant language. it’s arguably easier to guess the correct answer from the title and instructions and then, ex post facto, figure out the mechanics of the meta. does that make it inelegant? not to me, but de gustibus non est disputandum.


  • {Right page} RECTO. bonus latin content.
  • {Right-handed} DEXTRAL. bonus bonus latin content. and both latin translations of “right”!
  • {“I could give more examples, but won’t”} ETC. this is almost a bit much. the REX of {“Jurassic Park” beast} T-REX, too.
  • {Women’s hockey gold medalists in Pyeongchang} USA. sure, fine. how about {Women’s cross-country team sprint gold medalists in Pyeongchang}? my favorite moment of the olympics, hands down.
  • {Maleska’s predecessor} WENG. the deep cut of nyt crossword editors.

i’d write more, but tempus fugit, and all that. how’d you all enjoy this one?

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14 Responses to MGWCC #508

  1. Todd Dashoff says:

    Matt, I’m curious. What did you have to do to this one that required the extra time? Was it just to complete the grid, or to refine it?

  2. PatXC says:

    Ugh! I found Latin right off the bat (and I have my worksheet and friends to prove it.) HOWEVER, I thought that was too easy for week 4, since I rarely get week 4, AND I mistakenly thought the entire word was capitalized. So after I got Latin, I searched for a long time for the final answer. Never found on, so I submitted an Ave Maria. Oh well.

  3. Heidi Birker says:

    I got the Latin words to start (ova, res, etc.), but didn’t know what to do next. Now I know! I almost submitted Latin, but thought it was too obvious. I also looked up what “lost” was in Latin, which was Perdita, which was a film starring Emily Bruni, so I almost submitted her last name. Amazing the weird twists my brain will do!

  4. Paul Coulter says:

    I knew those high school Latin classes would pay off some day. Miss H. may have been a terror, but after 50 years, some good has finally come of it. Actually, I still remember a lot of Latin root words. And I think my fascination with words in general started in that class.

  5. Craig Mazin says:

    A MOI and SARDOU sent me down a French rabbit hole for quite a while. Just couldn’t let it go. OEUFS and RUE and VOYAGE and ETRE and FAIRE…

    OVA turned out to be the big break for me. Not just for this puzzle, but in terms of my overall existence.

    But I am still furious at SARDOU. In a good way. Because I mean… if you see SARDOU in a meta grid, how can you not think, “Okay, that needed to be there.”???

    I mean it *did* for length purposes, but… ahhh, you know what I mean…

    Lovely puzzle, Mr. G.

    • Matthew G. says:

      Yep, I went down the French rabbit hole with the same French words you cite. Sadly, unlike you, I did not come back out again.

  6. BarbaraK says:

    Early on, I noted the two “right” words – RECTO and DEXTRAL and went looking for others. Found just one more (ORA)TORY but also two “left” – PORT(ICO) and WEST(ON). So 3 rights and 2 lefts, but I couldn’t figure out how to go any further with that thread.

    Then when I eventually thought of translating _to_ Latin, I saw that three of the lost letters were on the right and two on the left! That felt like it couldn’t be just a coincidence but was also not really necessary to find LATIN, so ???

  7. Bill2RD says:

    My 4 years of high school Latin helped a lot, especially when I saw the words “to be” and “I love” in the answers. Latin was my first thought. I tried playing around with the Latin translations of the five key words, and then finally noticed the “esse” and “amo” portions of other answers. Great construction, Matt. It was worth the one day delay!

  8. Jack Sullivan says:

    I saw the five words/phrases that needed to be translated and tried Latin, French, Spanish, German, and Italian. Nothing seemed to work so I put everything aside for a day. The second look led me to ESSE(N), but I was stuck on VIA as the Latin word for road. The aha moment came on finding TITER/ITER. Glad to have a little extra time on this one. Thanks, Matt!

  9. Amy L says:

    That ESSEN started me off in German, so I looked everywhere for “to eat.” Then the AMO jumped out and I connected it with I LOVE LUCY. I easily found all the matches, but I got the order wrong. I was looking at the order of the Latin words and got “ITALN.” I wondered if I got an N instead of a Y by mistake. I submitted Latin, but had doubts because Matt doesn’t usually have the answer out of order. I had to come here to learn the correct ordering of the letters.

    Fun review, Joon.

  10. Mike says:

    I’m curious if the extra time Matt talked about was adding red herrings? Like if you thought of French RUE for road, there was RUSE to match it. If you had German SEIN for “to be”, there was STEIN to match it.

    • rmac says:

      Even more red herrings, even if you were looking for Latin words:

      AVA = misspelled OVA
      ADO = misspelled AMO
      ERSE = misspelled ESSE

  11. kaes says:

    I was also stuck on ROAD = VIA for some time. Then I started looking at the other parts of the theme answers. Luckily, TRIP (i.e. “journey”) also translates, perhaps even more closely, to ITER. I took that path to the answer without giving ROAD another thought!

  12. John says:

    Great meta and puzzle. My only comment beyond though is a resounding agreement with Joon on THE highlight of the Olympic Games and maybe one of the best sports moments ever (i’m 58, so i’ve seen a few). The announcer coming unglued really added to the thrill. Way to go USA ladies!, whose numerous heroics saved this Olympics for us.

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