1227-23 NY Times Crossword 27 Dec 23, Wednesday

Constructed by: Kareem Ayas
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Thesaurus

Four lines in the grid include shaded letters that spell out types of dinosaurs, but missing THE “-SAURUS”:

  • 33D Writer’s reference … or what each row of shaded letters is missing? : THESAURUS or THE “-SAURUS”
  • 15A “King James” : LEBRON
  • 16A Word before nail or after steel : TOE- (giving “brontosaurus”)
  • 24A Voice of doom : ALARMIST
  • 27A It’s a me problem : EGOISM (giving “stegosaurus”)
  • 44A One dying for a cause : MARTYR
  • 47A Leave a mark on? : ANNOTATE (giving “tyrannosaurus”)
  • 58A Jug unit: Abbr. : GAL
  • 59A Comfy shoe : LOAFER (giving “allosaurus”)
  • 4D What had a major impact on this puzzle’s theme? : ASTEROID

Bill’s time: 10m 17s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Travel requirement, at times : VISA

A visa is usually a stamp in one’s passport, an indication that one is authorized to enter (and less often, to exit) a particular country. The word “visa” comes into English, via French, from the Latin expression “charta visa” meaning “paper that has been seen”, or “verified paper”.

5 Where the 10 countries with the lowest median age are all located : AFRICA

The Carthaginian Republic was centered on the city of Carthage, the ruins of which are located on the coast of modern-day Tunisia. The Latin name for the people of Carthage was “Afri”. When the Romans took over Carthage, they created a province they called “Africa”. That name extended over time to include the whole continent.

14 Book before Romans : ACTS

The Acts of the Apostles is the fifth book of the Christian New Testament. It is believed that the author of the Gospel of Luke was the same person who wrote “Acts”.

15 “King James” : LEBRON

Basketball player LeBron James (nicknamed “King James”) seems to be in demand for the covers of magazines. James became the first African-American man to adorn the front cover of “Vogue” in March 2008. That made him only the third male to make the “Vogue” cover, following Richard Gere and George Clooney.

18 Product of volcanic activity : BASALT

Basalt is a volcanic rock that is created when lava cools rapidly at the earth’s surface.

19 Certain grueling race, informally : TRI

An Ironman Triathlon is a race involving a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon run of just over 26 miles. The idea for the race came out of a debate between some runners in the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay. They were questioning whether runners, swimmers or bikers were the most fit athletes. The debaters decided to combine three local events to determine the answer, inviting athletes from all three disciplines. The events that were mimicked in the first triathlon were the Waikiki Roughwater swim (2.4 miles), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles). The idea was that whoever finishes first would be called “the Iron Man”. The first triathlon was run in 1978, with fifteen starters and only twelve finishers. The race format is used all over the world now, but the Hawaiian Ironman is the event that everyone wants to win.

22 Moccasins, but not oxfords : SLIP-ONS

“Moc” is short for “moccasin”, a type of shoe. The moccasin is a traditional form of footwear worn by members of many Native American tribes.

An oxford is a type of lace-up shoe that originated not in Oxford, but actually in Scotland and/or Ireland.

28 End up OK : PAN OUT

When prospectors pan for gold, they do so by mixing soil and water in a pan. Because gold is very dense, gravel and soil can be washed over the side of the pan leaving the heavy precious metal at the bottom. The gold has been “panned out”, and so we often use “pan out” figuratively to mean “turn out, succeed”.

29 Boring bit : AUGER

An auger is a drill, a boring tool [yawn] … just kidding …

32 “A Doll’s House” playwright : IBSEN

“A Doll’s House” is probably the most famous play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The play deals with the feminist awakening of the lead character, Nora Helmer. “A Doll’s House” is sometimes referred to as the “first true feminist play”.

33 Quattro preceder : TRE

In Italian, “quattro meno uno” (four minus one) is “tre” (three).

38 Father on “Modern Family” : PHIL

The character Phil Dunphy on the sitcom “Modern Family” is played by actor Ty Burrell. Phil is a real estate agent and refers to his role in his family as “cool Dad”.

40 Mary, Queen of ___ : SCOTS

Mary, Queen of Scots ruled over Scotland from 1542 until 1567, even though she spent most of that reign in France where she had grown up. 16-year-old Mary married 9-year-old Francis, the Dauphin of France in 1558, and the following year became queen consort when her husband acceded to the throne. Francis only ruled for a year before dying of natural causes. The young widow returned to Scotland, the country of her birth, in 1561. In 1567, Mary was forced to abdicate the Scottish throne in favor of her one-year-old son James, after an uprising against Mary and her third husband, the Earl of Bothwell. Mary fled south to seek the protection of her cousin, Elizabeth I of England. As Mary had once claimed Elizabeth’s throne as her own, Elizabeth had Mary imprisoned. Mary was held in confinement for over 18 years and eventually beheaded in 1587, having been found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth.

41 Roman fountain name : TREVI

The Trevi Fountain (“Fontana di Trevi”) is a huge fountain in Rome, one that is the largest constructed in the Baroque style. The tradition is that if one throws a coin in the fountain then one is guaranteed a return visit to the city. Tourists throw in an amazing 3,000 euros (over $4,000) every day. The money is collected and is used to stock a supermarket for the needy of the city.

43 Van Gogh masterpiece : IRISES

Van Gogh painted his “Irises” while he was in an asylum in the south of France the year before he committed suicide. The original owner was a French art critic and supporter of van Gogh who paid 300 francs to purchase the painting. “Irises” was bought for $53.9 million in 1987, making it the most expensive painting sold up to that point. But, the buyer didn’t actually have the necessary funds, so it had to be resold in 1990. It was picked up by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where you can see it today.

51 Japanese exporter of diesel engines : ISUZU

Isuzu is a Japanese manufacturer of commercial vehicles and diesel engines. The company was named for the Isuzu River, with “isuzu” translating into English as “fifty bells”.

53 “___ Fideles” : ADESTE

The lovely Christmas hymn “Adeste Fideles” (entitled “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in English) was written by one John Francis Wade in the 13th century. Well, he wrote the original four verses, with four more verses being added over time. A kind blog reader pointed out to me that the English translation is in fact a little “off”. The term “adeste” best translates from Latin as “be present, attend”, rather than “come”. The verb “come” appears later in the lyrics in “venite adoremus”, meaning “come, let us worship”.

55 Letters that go in both blanks of ___ ___tofferson : KRIS

Singer Kris Kristofferson was born in Brownsville, Texas and was the son of a USAF Major General. Indeed, Kristofferson’s paternal grandfather was also a military officer, but in the Swedish Army. Kristofferson himself went into the US Army and served in West Germany, achieving the rank of Captain.

58 Jug unit: Abbr. : GAL

The name of our fluid measure called a “gallon” ultimately comes from the Medieval Latin term “galleta” meaning “bucket, pail”.

59 Comfy shoe : LOAFER

The loafer slip-on shoe dates back to 1939. “Loafer” was originally a brand name introduced by Fortnum and Mason’s store in London. The derivative term “penny loafer” arose in the late fifties or early sixties, although the exact etymology seems unclear.

60 Bank note made of pure cotton fiber : EURO

The euro sign (€) looks like a letter C, but with two horizontal lines drawn across the middle. Inspiration for the design comes from the Greek letter epsilon.

62 “Enthusiasm is the mother of ___”: Ralph Waldo Emerson : EFFORT

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an essayist and poet who was active in the mid-1800s. Most of the essays that Emerson wrote were composed originally as lectures and then revised for print. He is often referred to as “The Sage of Concord”, as Emerson spent much of his life in Concord, Massachusetts.

63 One may ask for a dinner preference : RSVP

“RSVP” stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît”, which is French for “answer, please”.

Down

2 Hosp. area : ICU

An intensive care unit (ICU) is found in a hospital (hosp.).

3 Friar known for his patronage of animals : ST FRANCIS

St. Francis founded the Franciscan religious order in Assisi in 1208. He died in 1226, and was declared a saint just two years later in 1228. Construction of the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi started immediately after the canonization, and finished 25 years later. The Basilica is now a United Nations World Heritage Site.

4 What had a major impact on this puzzle’s theme? : ASTEROID

Dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for about 135 million years until what’s called the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event. It is generally assumed that this extinction event was triggered when a massive comet or asteroid impacted the Earth. That impact created a dust cloud that led to a prolonged “winter” when plants and plankton could not photosynthesise. Almost all dinosaurs died out. The only survivors were the dinosaurs that evolved into our modern-day birds.

5 Notwithstanding : ALBEIT

“Albeit” is a conjunction meaning “although, even if”. The term dates back to the 1300s, when it was a contraction of the phrase “al be it” meaning “although it be that”.

6 Guinness records, typically : FEATS

“The Guinness Book of World Records” holds some records of its own. It is the best-selling, copyrighted series of books of all time and is one of the books most often stolen from public libraries! The book was first published in 1954 by two twins, Norris and Ross McWhirter. The McWhirter twins found themselves with a smash hit, and eventually became very famous in Britain hosting a TV show based on world records.

7 Some handoff recipients in football, for short : RBS

Running back (RB)

9 Boston, Amherst and others : COLLEGES

Boston College is a private Jesuit school located in Chestnut Hill, just a few miles from Boston, Massachusetts. The list of notable Boston College alumni includes Secretary of State John Kerry and former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) is the largest public university in New England. UMass was founded back in 1863, although it took a while to get the school into service. Construction work was delayed and the college went through two presidents before William S. Clark took charge. He cracked the whip, completed the construction and enrolled the first students in the same year that he took over the reins, in 1867. As a result, although Clark was the third President of UMass, he is regarded by most as the school’s founding father.

10 Immune response trigger : ANTIGEN

An antigen is a molecule recognized by the immune system, one that can be chemically bound and neutralized by an antibody. An antigen used to be called an “ANTI-body GEN-erator”.

11 “Great” 10th-century emperor : OTTO I

Otto I the Great ruled the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) in the 10th century, from 962 until his death in 973.

21 Blue material : SMUT

Blue laws are prohibitive statutes designed to restrict activities on a Sunday for religious reasons. There seem to be a few dubious etymologies published to explain the use of the term “blue” in such a context. The most credible derivation seems to point at the supporters of Oliver Cromwell in the British Parliament of the mid-17th century, who were referred to as “blue-stockings”.

23 “___ favor” : POR

“Por favor” is Spanish for “please”.

25 First dog on an orbital spaceflight : LAIKA

The Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite towards the end of 1957. The first in a series of space missions, the satellite was just a 23-inch diameter “ball” trailing four antennas. Sputnik 2 was launched just a month later, and carried the first living passenger into orbit, namely a dog named Laika. The word “sputnik” means “co-traveller” in Russian.

32 Some W.S.J. topics : IPOS

An initial public offering (IPO) is the very first offer of stock for sale by a company on the open market. In other words, an IPO marks the first time that a company is traded on a public exchange. Companies have an IPO to raise capital to expand (usually).

“The Wall Street Journal” (WSJ) is a daily newspaper with a business bent that is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company. The WSJ has a larger US circulation than any other newspaper, with “USA Today” coming in a close second place.

33 Writer’s reference … or what each row of shaded letters is missing? : THESAURUS or THE “-SAURUS”

The first person to use the term “thesaurus” to mean a “collection of words arranged according to sense” was Roget in 1852, when he used it for the title of his most famous work. Up to that point in time, a thesaurus was basically an encyclopedia. Before being used with reference to books, a thesaurus was a storehouse or treasury, coming from the Latin “thesaurus” meaning “treasury, treasure”.

35 Beethoven’s “Für ___” : ELISE

“Für Elise” is a beautiful piece of solo piano music by Beethoven that is also known as “Bagatelle in A Minor”. “Für Elise” simply means “For Elise”, but sadly no one knows for sure the identity of the mysterious dedicatee.

38 Annual architecture award : PRITZKER

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is an annual award that has been presented since 1979. The award is funded by the estate of Jay Pritzker, the founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain.

41 Pants, but half off? : TROU

“Trou” is short for “trousers”.

48 Crystalline mineral deposits in some caves : NITER

The chemical name for saltpeter (also “saltpetre, niter, nitre”) is potassium nitrate. The exact origin of the name “saltpeter” isn’t clear, but it may have come from the Latin “sal petrae” meaning “stone salt”. The main use for potassium nitrate is as a fertilizer, a source of potassium and nitrogen. As it is a powerful oxidizing agent, it is also used in amateur rocket propellants. Anyone who has ignited one of those “engines” would have noticed the lilac-colored flame, indicating the presence of potassium.

50 Like Beethoven, by his mid-40s : DEAF

Famously, and tragically, composer Ludwig van Beethoven started to lose his hearing in his late 20s, and was basically deaf for the last ten years of his life. As a result of his deafness, Beethoven was forced to use conversation books in which others communicated to the composer, while he generally responded verbally. 136 of those books survive, and provide some detailed insight into Beethoven’s life.

54 West Coast airport code : SFO

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

56 Music producer Gotti who worked with Ja Rule and J.Lo : IRV

Irv Gotti is a record producer, and the founder of the The Inc record label. Gotti was born Irving Lorenzo, and took the name Gotti after the Boss of the Gambino crime family.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Travel requirement, at times : VISA
5 Where the 10 countries with the lowest median age are all located : AFRICA
11 Sounds of surprise : OHS
14 Book before Romans : ACTS
15 “King James” : LEBRON
16 Word before nail or after steel : TOE
17 Cluster, as of grass : TUFT
18 Product of volcanic activity : BASALT
19 Certain grueling race, informally : TRI
20 Factory ___ : RESET
22 Moccasins, but not oxfords : SLIP-ONS
24 Voice of doom : ALARMIST
27 It’s a me problem : EGOISM
28 End up OK : PAN OUT
29 Boring bit : AUGER
31 Not forbidden : LICIT
32 “A Doll’s House” playwright : IBSEN
33 Quattro preceder : TRE
36 “Joking!” : I KID!
37 Secret traders : SPIES
38 Father on “Modern Family” : PHIL
39 Prof’s helpers : TAS
40 Mary, Queen of ___ : SCOTS
41 Roman fountain name : TREVI
42 Digital money : E-CASH
43 Van Gogh masterpiece : IRISES
44 One dying for a cause : MARTYR
47 Leave a mark on? : ANNOTATE
49 Put up : ERECTED
51 Japanese exporter of diesel engines : ISUZU
52 Coastal inlet : RIA
53 “___ Fideles” : ADESTE
55 Letters that go in both blanks of ___ ___tofferson : KRIS
58 Jug unit: Abbr. : GAL
59 Comfy shoe : LOAFER
60 Bank note made of pure cotton fiber : EURO
61 Bow-making timber : ELM
62 “Enthusiasm is the mother of ___”: Ralph Waldo Emerson : EFFORT
63 One may ask for a dinner preference : RSVP

Down

1 Acid container, maybe : VAT
2 Hosp. area : ICU
3 Friar known for his patronage of animals : ST FRANCIS
4 What had a major impact on this puzzle’s theme? : ASTEROID
5 Notwithstanding : ALBEIT
6 Guinness records, typically : FEATS
7 Some handoff recipients in football, for short : RBS
8 Some investments, in brief : IRAS
9 Boston, Amherst and others : COLLEGES
10 Immune response trigger : ANTIGEN
11 “Great” 10th-century emperor : OTTO I
12 Features of many ceratopsians : HORNS
13 Something possibly triggered during a mass extinction event : SEISM
21 Blue material : SMUT
23 “___ favor” : POR
24 Accelerated H.S. English course : AP LIT
25 First dog on an orbital spaceflight : LAIKA
26 Novelist King who wrote “Caretakers” and “One on One” : TABITHA
30 Applications : USES
32 Some W.S.J. topics : IPOS
33 Writer’s reference … or what each row of shaded letters is missing? : THESAURUS or THE “-SAURUS”
34 It helps keep a tight ship tight : RIVET
35 Beethoven’s “Für ___” : ELISE
37 Spooked by : SCARED OF
38 Annual architecture award : PRITZKER
40 Ancient method of encipherment with a message wrapped around a cylinder : SCYTALE
41 Pants, but half off? : TROU
42 List follower : ETC
43 Newspaper supplement : INSERT
44 Come together : MERGE
45 Common typeface : ARIAL
46 Ruler’s dimensions? : REALM
48 Crystalline mineral deposits in some caves : NITER
50 Like Beethoven, by his mid-40s : DEAF
54 West Coast airport code : SFO
56 Music producer Gotti who worked with Ja Rule and J.Lo : IRV
57 Soak (up) : SOP

8 thoughts on “1227-23 NY Times Crossword 27 Dec 23, Wednesday”

  1. 17:40. Felt a lot harder than most Wednesdays to me.

    THESAURUS was easily the smartest dinosaur of them all as we all know. I think he wore glasses.

    Sitting here waiting for my flight home. It’s already been delayed 4 times for a total of 10 hours. Fortunately they let us know, and I’m in my hotel room and not the airport. Oh how I love holiday travel.
    9 AM flight taking off at 7 PM….Sheesh.

    Best –

  2. 22:11, just my typical, slow, methodical, more enjoyment per dollar than the rest of you, solve.

    Jeff, have a safe trip back to LV when you finally depart!

  3. No errors but I was all over the place to Stat with.

    I looked for the hint to the theme. Found 4D then thought all those shaded areas were named asteroids and thought …. WHAT? working left to right, I didn’t see 33D until late then things made sense.

    But when I hit ALLO, that’s my fiber internet contractor? But I guess there is a ALLOSAURUS? hmm.

    Also didn’t know SCYTALE. Hope I remember that for later!

    1. Apparently, five weeks ago, I got SCYTALE from crossing entries and never noticed it. So I just looked it up on Google and I found it very interesting … 🧐.

  4. The print edition had 42A as daying for a cause.
    Raise your hand if you really enjoyed this one….me either.👎👎
    Stay safe😀

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