Monday, January 19, 2015

Six letters ending with UES

19 across: Provides with a quality[Six letters ending with UES]
The NYT Easy Crossword Puzzle Omnibus Vol 10

I confidently went for IMBUES. A Latinate word from the Latin imbuere meaning to stain. Imbue began as a humble word to describe dyeing fabric, and later took the metaphorical meaning suggested in this crossword clue. Imbue is a popular word with over 7,000,000 Google hits in its most popular form.

I was wrong.

The grey lady wanted ENDUES, which is so obscure that Google often suggests "Did you mean: endures" and Wordnik cites examples that are clearly misspellings of endure "Unfortunately Apple costumers have to endue the inconveniences and pain."

Even though it has been defeated in the public lexicon, this Latinate word from inducere, meaning to lead, has the more legitimate claim to its meaning. It shares its etymology with induce.

I don't know how often this happens, but in this case we see a public preference for metaphor over direct meaning. The great language podcast Lexicon Valley has a nice episode on the pervasiveness of metaphors.

In closing, the NYT easy puzzles are a wonderful diversion and I'd recommend them to anyone looking for a well-written and edited crossword collection.

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