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What does it mean when a crossword clue is in quotes?

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2007-02-20 19:57:09
2007-02-20 19:57:09

When a clue is enclosed in quotes, it is often a familiar quotation or title containing an underscore. The underscore indicates a missing word or words that must be filled in by the solver, which will be the clue's answer. If, however, the clue contains no missing words -- for example, "Egad!" or "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!" or "Forget about it!" -- the answer will be a similar expression or interjection. What confuses most novice puzzle solvers are the clues with question marks. The question mark indicates that the clue is far-fetched or has an unusual interpretation, or that the answer is a pun or play on words. Metal worker is a straightforward clue that is not the same as Metal worker? The answer to the former could be machinist, tinner, founder, or blacksmith, whereas the answer to the latter will be more eccentric -- robot or automaton, for example. It can mean many things. One would be it is quoting a famous or wellknown saying. Another could mean its exemplifying it, like when we coin a phrase in speech or want to make a strong point. It also could be wanting you to think out side the box of the original clue and use other words in clue to get to answer. I do the NY Times and my daily two/weekly and have found that they try to trick you and get your brain really thinking.

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