MGWCC #726

crossword 3:19
meta –1:30 

 



hello and welcome to episode #726 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “One of These Things Is Not Like the Others”. for this week 1 puzzle of may (even though it came out on april 30), the instructions were entirely unnecessary. what were the theme answers? four ten-letter answers were arranged in a pinwheel pattern:

  • {Recording of someone contacting the dead?} OUIJA AUDIO.
  • {Swampy region where everyone has a protruding navel?} OUTIE BAYOU.
  • {Surrounding glows that freak people out?} EERIE AURAE. AURAS is the more common spelling of the plural, but that wouldn’t fit the theme.
  • {Line of people waiting to purchase a Provencal spread?} AIOLI QUEUE.

as you can see, each of the themers comprises two five-letter words, of which four are vowels and only one is a consonant. (BAYOU gave me some pause, but the pronunciation is essentially “bī” + “oo”, so it fits.) although that by itself doesn’t tell you the meta answer, there was a fifth theme entry lurking in the grid: {What our contest answer means} GOODBYE. that does indeed narrow down the answer to ADIEU. as an etymological aside, GOODBYE and ADIEU are not only synonyms, but they are derived from related phrases: GOODBYE is a contraction of “god be with you”, and ADIEU comes from “à dieu”, literally “to god” in french. (ADIOS is the same thing in spanish.)

serious scrabble players have memorized the words known as “vowel dumps”, which are words that use a lot of vowels and very few consonants. i’d say basically all of the commonly known 5-letter vowel dumps are used in this theme except perhaps AERIE; some of the others i’ve seen in scrabble but not crosswords include:

  • AALII, a small bushy tree
  • AECIA, plural of aecium, a reproductive structure in some fungi
  • AUREI, plural of aureus, a roman gold coin
  • COOEE, an attention-getting shout in australia
  • LOOIE/LOUIE, slang for a lieutenant (of course, i’ve seen LOUIE plenty of times in crosswords clued as a name)
  • MIAOU, a variant spelling of meow
  • OIDIA, plural of oidium, some other fungus thing
  • OORIE/OURIE, dismal and cold, in scottish
  • URAEI, plural of uraeus, a representation of the sacred asp in egyptian art
  • and ZOEAE, one plural of zoea, the larval form of some crustaceans

so there you go. next time you have too many vowels on your rack, drop one of these bad boys on the board, take your 8 or so points and draw 4 or 5 new tiles, and thank me later.

back to the puzzle. the instructions turn out to have been This week’s contest answer is a five-letter word that’s a common first guess in Wordle. interesting. i would not have thought that the instructions would be any more specific than “5-letter word”, but i suppose it makes sense as a tie-in to the story matt shared about the week 5 puzzle that refused to be made. (personally, i start with IRATE.)

i certainly did not know {Bassem ___ (33-year-old Egyptian who in 2012 became the sixth person ever to be both a chess grandmaster and also a physician)} AMIN, but it’s nice to have somebody other than one of history’s greatest monsters used to clue this particular name.

that’s all i’ve got this week. adieu!

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19 Responses to MGWCC #726

  1. Tom says:

    OK, so I’ll ask the question. Was AUJUS, which is a 5 letter word and depending on your pronunciation a homophone of ADIEU really just an accident? I find that very difficult to believe that Matt would allow that word, with that pronunciation to occupy the position of importance (dead center) by mistake. I got the answer from that and the Goodbye, all the rest seemed superfluous (except the confirmatory ADIEU listed as a common WORDLE starting word).

    • Seth says:

      Gotta be honest, I cannot fathom how those two words could be pronounced the same. I know D’s can sometimes be pronounced like J (like the second d in “individual”) but that’s only when the D is followed by a U. Do you say ADIEU with the J sound?

      • joon says:

        the consonant sound in ADIEU isn’t that different from /j/ for me (i rarely say this word when speaking english, but i would pronounce it the same way the von trapp children do in “so long, farewell”). but it’s also definitely not the same as the j in AU JUS, which is /zh/. and the initial vowel (“ah”) is totally different from the initial vowel of the phrase AU JUS, which is pronounced “oh zhoo”.

        to my ear, both ADIEU and AU JUS comprise three phonemes (vowel-consonant-vowel), but share no phonemes in common with each other.

        • Tom says:

          Well, at the risk of starting a “he said, she said”, if one does the typical European slur (and I do speak French) one gets a combined sound very similar (I agree, not exactly) if it is ADIEU or AU JUS (AU shu vs A du). That, it’s 5 letter composition, and its place smack dab in the center certainly had to have somebody else but me wondering abut its importance? I’ll say no more about it since I cannot stand these “How could you possibly….” exchanges.

  2. Wendy Walker says:

    Here’s how this non-Wordle player got it: Each of the themers contains two U’s, except for 11D. So what would it take to make 11D “like the others”? Why, you’d ADD a U. ADD U.

  3. uciphd says:

    I was always taught Y is only sometimes a vowel (usually when no other vowels are in the word), making BAYOU not like the others. Then the 41D clue steers you in a different direction, not related to the title. A bit confusing.

  4. Jason says:

    Greetings from another IRATE person.

  5. Mary Flaminio says:

    I went with Adios since it as different from the others, two consonants. Should have gone with my first inclination. Toss up between the two. Hate to miss a week one!

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      I don’t understand the reasoning behind going with something different from the [rather uncommon] pattern demonstrated by the theme entries. What’s remarkable about that?

      I checked thesaurus.com to see what other 5-letter synonyms for goodbye there might be. Really, there aren’t very many—ADIOS and ADIEU being the only ones I’d really expect to spring to most people’s minds—but, for what it’s worth, the two others that I’d call relatively decent synonyms for GOODBYE were congé and aloha both of which share the “property” of having more than one consonant (and aloha having exactly two, in case that’s significant to you).

  6. Jim S. says:

    I pretty much knew it right from the instructions but then tried to backsolve to see why. Not sure I ever got it other than what Joon said – the goodbye hint and 4 vowels. Also noticed lots of rhymes in there – AUJUS, ADUE, BAYOU, QUEUE – some French references – BAYOU, AIOLI, Provencal, CAJUN. That’s the best I could come up with – lots of French and goodbye.

  7. MaineMarge says:

    I took 58A to be a big hint- aka a spoiler.
    A due is a homophone of adieu.

    • joon says:

      i have to disagree on this one, too. A DUE is “ah doo-ay”, as it’s from the italian. the initial vowel is the same as ADIEU but after that, they’re totally different.

      • MaineMarge says:

        Well, Joon, I guess there’s something to be said for not being bilingual…. Sounded good to me, and brought me home.🤷‍♀️Marge

  8. Adam Rosenfield says:

    I missed the hint at 41D but still came to the right answer. I tried to solve it at first without looking at the instructions, and I assumed we were looking for another 5-5 phrase where each word contained 4 vowels, but that seemed too vague and I peeked at the instructions. Once I did, I immediately thought of ADIEU, and it was a strong enough click that I didn’t feel the need to reread the rest of the grid.

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