Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Plurality” — Conrad’s writeup.
This week we’re looking for a four-letter plural noun. There were four long theme entries:
- [Allegro]: BRISKTEMPO
- [Leader of deliberations]: FOREWOMAN
- [Simple accounting method]: CASHBASIS
- [One of 43,560 in an acre]: SQUAREFOOT
The key to the meta was pluralizing the themers, which formed new down entries:
- TEMPI: TIPPLED
- WOMEN: ELMS
- BASES: BORES
- FEET: TENS/REDS
I Googled TEMPI and BASES to make sure I had the correct pluralizations, but the crossing down entries removed any ambiguity. The new down words mapped to five other entries,
- [Hit the sauce]: TIPPLED -> DRANK
- [Trees with serrated leaves]: ELMS -> ASPENS
- [Makes yawn, perhaps]: BORES -> TIRES
- [___ place (one of the positions to the left of the decimal point)]: TENS -> UNITS
- [Team in the 1973 National League Championship Series]: REDS -> METS
The mapped letters spell DATUM, which is the singular form of DATA, our contest solution. I’ve used “data” as a singular noun for my entire information security career, but remembered that datum is actually the singular form. “The data are…” always sounded stuffy and wrong to me.
Another impressive feat of construction by Mike. There are fourteen(!) thematic entries: looking at my graphic above: a significant portion of the grid is thematic, but the fill didn’t seem forced to me. I may have been fortunate in catching the theme quickly, but for me: one step flowed logically to the next, and I didn’t notice any ambiguity. Solvers: please share your thoughts.