Edited by: Will Shortz
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. Like a hermit : ISOLATED
The Greek word for “uninhabited” is eremos, which is the root for “eremia” meaning both “desert” and “solitude”. The Greek word eremites then means “a person of the desert”. This was absorbed into Latin as “ermita”, meaning someone who lived in solitude or in an uninhabited area. We use “eremite” to mean the same thing, although the derivative term “hermit” is more common.
9. Response to a sophomoric comment : GROW UP
The term “sophomore” has been used for a student in the second year of university since the 1680’s. The original meaning of the word was “arguer”. The term has Greek roots, from two Greek words that have been artificially combined in English. The Greek “sophos” means “wise”, and “moros” means “foolish”.
15. Score after opening with an ace, informally : FIVE-LOVE
In tennis, “five-love” is an informal way of announcing the core “fifteen-love”.
In tennis the score of zero is designated as “love”. Some people believe that this usage originates from the French “l’oeuf” (meaning “the egg”). The idea is that the written character “0” looks like an egg.
18. Singer of the Wagner aria “Liebestod” : ISOLDE
“Tristan und Isolde” is an epic opera by Richard Wagner (Wagner … not one of my favorites!). Many see the work as the first serious move away from the traditional harmony and tonality of the classical and romantic eras.
21. Looks forward to the next spring? : DOWSES
Dowsing is the practice of divining, not just for water, but also for buried metals and gemstones. Often a dowser will use a Y-shaped or L-shaped rod as a tool, which can also be called a dowser. Here in the US, the tool used might be referred to as a “witching rod”, as it is usually made from witch-hazel.
22. Feature of Namibia and Libya : ARIDNESS
The Republic of Namibia is a country in southern Africa on the Atlantic coast. The Namibian War of Independence fought from 1966 to 1988 eventually resulted in independence for Namibia from South Africa, and a transition from white minority apartheid rule.
The Italo-Turkish War was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy from September 1911 and October 1912. At the end of the conflict the Ottoman Empire ceded to Italy the three provinces of Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. These provinces became Italian North Africa, and ultimately the country that we know today as Libya. The name “Libya” comes from the Ancient Greek “Libúē”, the historical name for Northwest Africa.
24. Root used in perfumery : ORRIS
Orris root is a basic ingredient in many perfumes, providing a so-called “base note”. It is also an ingredient in some brands of gin.
25. James ___, 1990-94 New Jersey governor : FLORIO
Jim Florio governed New Jersey from 1990 to 1994, after serving in the US House of Representatives from 1975 to 1990. Florio lost the 1993 gubernatorial election, and entered the private sector. He served on the board of directors of Trump Entertainment Resorts until the company filed for its third bankruptcy in 2014, at which time all board members were forced to resign.
26. Noodle soup noodle : UDON
Udon noodles are made from wheat-flour and are very popular in Japanese cuisine like tempura.
27. Joint flare-up? : PRISON RIOT
The cooler, the pen, the joint, the slammer … prison.
32. Method of fishing : SEINING
A seine is a type of fishing net. It is long and thin, with floats along one long edge (the top) and weights along the bottom edge so that it hangs down in the water. A seine is usually paid out into the water from a boat called a seiner, as the vessel moves slowly in a circle driving fish into the center of the net.
33. Station that people once looked up to : MIR
The Russian Mir Space Station was a remarkably successful project, with the station still holding the record for the longest continuous manned presence in space, at just under ten years. Towards the end of the space station’s life however, the years began to take their toll. There was a dangerous fire, multiple system failures, and a collision with a resupply ship. The Russian commitment to the International Space Station drained funds for repairs, so Mir was allowed to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in 2001. “Mir” is a Russian word meaning “peace” or “world”.
36. Company added to the Dow 30 in 2013 : VISA
Visa doesn’t actually issue any credit or debit cards. Visa just sells the electronic systems and infrastructure to banks who then put the Visa logo on their own cards. And so, both the customer and merchant know to use the VISA system when making a transaction.
Dow Jones & Company was founded as a publishing house in 1882 by three newspaper reporters, Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser. Today, the company’s most famous publication has to be “The Wall Street Journal”. In 1884, Charles Dow started reporting the average dollar value of the stock of eleven companies, an index which spawned a whole host of metrics that carry the Dow Jones name to this day, including the renowned Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), also known as the “Dow 30”.
37. Dr. Brody of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” : MARCUS
In the “Indiana Jones” series of films, Dr. “Indy” Jones is played by Harrison Ford. Dr. Marcus Brody is played by the veteran English actor Denholm Elliott.
39. Scenery chewer : HAM ACTOR
The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is apparently a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.
“To chew the scenery” is to overact, to ham it up.
42. Grinders, of a sort : MOLARS
Molars are grinding teeth. The term “molar” comes from the Latin “mola” meaning “millstone”.
43. Tree favored by giraffes : ACACIA
The giraffe is the tallest terrestrial animal on the planet. The giraffe’s main source of food is acacia leaves that they eat from high, high up in trees, where other herbivores cannot reach.
44. Dubonnet or Campari : APERITIF
An apéritif is an alcoholic drink served before a meal, to stimulate the palate. A digestif is an alcoholic drink served after a meal, to aid digestion.
49. Lowdown sneak : CONNIVER
To connive is to conspire with, to cooperate in secret. The term comes from the Latin verb “connivere” meaning “to wink”, the idea being that connivers might give each other a sly wink.
50. Quick shots : SNORTS
A quick shot of whiskey, perhaps, might be called a quick snort.
5. Force in the Battle of Dunkirk : ALLIES
Dunkirk is in the very north of France, on the coast just a few miles from the border with Belgium. The beaches and harbor of Dunkirk were used for a massive evacuation of British forces early in WWII after they were surrounded by the German army. Over 330,000 mainly British and French combatants were picked up by 900 vessels that made repeated journeys over several days.
6. Shakespeare’s First and Second Folios, e.g. : TOMES
“First Folio” is the name commonly used for a collection of William Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623 under the title “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies”. The “First Folio” originally sold for one pound, which is about $230 in today’s money. About 750 copies were made, and there are just under 230 copies believed to still exist. A copy stolen from Durham University in 1998 was recovered in 2008, and was valued at about 15 million pounds.
7. Spacewalks, in NASA lingo : EVAS
Extravehicular activity (EVA) is the name given to any work done by an astronaut outside of his or her spacecraft. The term would encompass walking on the moon, as well as making a space walk i.e. floating around in space tethered to spacecraft.
9. Primitive cooking equipment : GRIDIRONS
We never used the word “gridiron” when I was growing up in Ireland (meaning a grill used for cooking food over an open fire). So, maybe I am excused for finding out relatively recently that a football field gridiron is so called because the layout of yard lines over the field looks like a gridiron used in cooking!
11. Alito’s predecessor on the Supreme Court : O’CONNOR
Sandra Day O’Connor is a former associate justice on the US Supreme Court. O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the court, and was in office from 1981 after being appointed by President Reagan. As the court became more conservative she was viewed as the swing vote in many decisions. As a result, O’Connor was known as one of the most powerful women in the world. She retired in 2006 (replaced by Samuel Alito), and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009.
Associate Justice Samuel Alito was nominated to the US Supreme Court by President George W. Bush. Alito is the second Italian-American to serve on the Supreme Court (Antonin Scalia was the first). Alito studied law at Yale and while in his final year he left the country for the first time in his life, heading to Italy to work on his thesis about the Italian legal system.
12. Toon who uses his middle initial : WILE E
Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner are two much-loved cartoon characters from Warner Bros. Wile E. Coyote was created first, and Road Runner was invented as someone for Wile E. to play off. I love this cartoon; definitely one of the best …
14. Ones always banging their heads against things? : PEENS
The peen of a hammer is on the head, and is the side of the head that is opposite the striking surface. Often the peen is in the shape of a hemisphere (as in a ball-peen hammer), but usually it is shaped like a claw (mainly for removing nails).
23. Female factory workers in W.W. II, informally : ROSIES
Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon that represented women working in factories across the country during WWII as part of the war effort. The term “Rosie the Riveter” first appeared as the title of a 1942 song that was a national hit. The image that we bring to mind today that supposedly depicts “Rosie” is a wartime poster with the words “We Can Do It!”, which shows a woman in blue overalls and a red and white polka-dot headscarf. However, this image was used by Westinghouse as an internal motivation tool only for a two-week period in 1943, and was never associated with the Rosie the Riveter persona. The “Rosie” association to that image came decades later, in the 1980s. The best-known WWII representation of Rosie the Riveter was a “Saturday Evening Post” cover drawn by Norman Rockwell in 1943. This image shows a female worker with a rivet gun, and a lunch box bearing the name “Rosie”.
25. West Coast locale mentioned in “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” : FRISCO
“Frisco” is not a term you’d hear used in the San Francisco Bay Area for our main city. Acceptable nicknames are “the City by the Bay” and “Fog City”. We usually just refer to it as “the City”.
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” is song that Otis Redding started composing in 1967 while sitting on a houseboat in Sausalito, on San Francisco Bay. Redding finished the song soon after, with the help of co-writer Steve Cooper. “The Dock of the Bay” was released in January of 1968, just one month after Redding was killed in a plane crash. The song became the first posthumous single to reach number in the US charts. As an aside, Janis Joplin’s recording of “Me and Bobby McGee” achieved the same feat in 1971.
28. Like store brands vis-à-vis name brands, typically : IMITATIVE
We can use the French phrase “vis-à-vis” as a preposition meaning “compared with”. When used as an adverb or adjective, it means “face-to-face”, which is a more literal translation from French.
29. Waterway that lent its name to two French departments : OISE RIVER
Those two departments are Oise and Val-d’Oise.
The River Oise rises in Belgium and joins up with the River Seine just outside Paris.
35. Clam : SMACKER
“Smacker” is American slang for “money”, with “smackers” often being used to mean ”dollars”. It is suggested that the term might come from “smacking” a banknote into one’s hand.
“Clam” is a slang term for “dollar”. It has been suggested that “clam” is a throwback to the supposed use of clams as units of currency in ancient cultures.
36. T.S.A. requirement : VALID ID
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks that check passengers and baggage at airports.
38. ___ Ochoa, 2017 Golf Hall of Fame inductee : LORENA
Lorena Ochoa is a retired professional golfer from Mexico who was ranked as the number one female golfer in the world from 2007 to 2010.
39. Papa Bear of the N.F.L. : HALAS
The NFL’s George Stanley Halas, Sr. was nicknamed “Papa Bear”. He also earned the well-deserved nickname of “Mr Everything” as he was a player, coach, inventor, jurist, producer, philanthropist, philatelist and NFL owner. He led the Chicago Bears from 1921 to 1967.
41. Photog’s lens : MACRO
A macro lens is one that is used for shooting very small subjects, so that the resulting image is usually larger than life size.
45. “How ___ are they that have not patience!”: Iago : POOR
Iago is the schemer in Shakespeare’s “Othello”. He is a soldier who fought alongside Othello and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. Iago hatches a plot designed to discredit his rival Cassio by insinuating that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, Othello’s wife.