Tricky Crossword Clues and Answers Suggested by the Experts

by Max Fragar
0 comment

Cracking a crossword game is not only about wits, the individuals get better as they practice. You have to get accustomed to common tricks and familiar beats.

It is a possibility that most of you get confused when tricky clues pop up in the crossword puzzle. Fret not, we have you covered.

These are the head-scratchers that feel like they live exclusively to be penned. Like seriously.

Here are the tricky 25 clues and answers that the indie crossword editors share their favorites for better online crossword solving:

1) Clue: It’s less rich than the 1% [4 letters]

Answer: SKIM

This one is from a puzzle that was constructed by Aimee Lucido in 2015.

This is the clue/answer pair that is visible in the mainstream puzzle. The indies made contemporary jokes more palatable.

There is a new language of class to mislead you, bring in mind to Mitt Romney, and Sheldon Adelson before alighting on a quart of dairy.

— Ben Tausig

2. Pussy riot? [6 letters]

Answer: LOLCAT

These types of clues are very interesting as they have double meaning in both halves of the clue. In this particular clue, “riot” refers to a laugh riot and not a civil disorder.

What we feel is the Russian feminist group may have kitties on the mind when they used ‘Pussy’ in their name.

–Andrew Ries, Aries Puzzles

3. Craving head? [5 letters]

Answer: HARD C

Crossword clue is the constructor’s way of telling you they’re messing with you.

If you try to interpret the phrase ‘craving head’ literally, the best interpretation is fairly X rated.

The answer is 5 letters long and begins with H. And the funniest part is, most people think that it was “HORNY” before scribbling the right answer.

But this question mark sign depicts that one of the words in the clue has a non-obvious meaning. In this case, you used the word ‘head’ to mean ‘front’ — that is, the front of the word ‘craving.'”

— Andy Kravis, Cruciverbalist at Law

4. Her porn star name might be Socks Pennsylvania [14 letters]


The best porn star name is by using the childhood pet followed by the street where you spent your childhood.

CHELSEA CLINTON had a cat having a unique name Socks while living in the White House (at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington).

“The whole theme had to be made from the porn star names, but there are not popular people whose pet names and street addresses are known. The other one I came up with was Spot Mockingbird for Eddie Munster.”

— Peter Gordon, Fireball Crosswords

5. Journey accompanier, often [9 letters]


“I’m a music geek, so any opportunity to write about music. This can be the clue or the answer.

You can capitalize the first letter in every clue and it can be fun to ‘hide the capital,’ so to speak.

Since the band Journey is already capitalized, I can make you think I’m asking for something you might take on a trip rather than the band, because it’s capitalized no matter what.”

Brendan Emmett Quigley

6. Athletic supporter? [3 letters]

Answer: TEE 

The clue as well as the answer both is unique.

“I like this clue so much because there are two ways to run with it.

If you think about supporters meaning someone who supports, then the clue could be talking about a sports FAN, because that’s three letters long.

But you could also think of a supporter as something that physically holds something else up, then you might think of a golf TEE, which supports a ball.

This clue is special to Neville Fogarty because I wrote it for the first puzzle I ever got published.”

 Neville Fogarty

7. Means of getting high in Colorado? [4 letters]

Answer: TBAR

“As in the structural name for a ski lift, Sam Ezersky, the crossword constructor was particularly pleased with this clue because it involved wordplay of an entire phrase, which was ‘getting high in Colorado’ is, um, definitely a thing by itself.

It usually doesn’t reference skiing. As a constructor who is still in college, Sam always looks for puzzles that give him a racier feel, so coming across any clue or answer along these lines is a huge plus point.”

— Sam Ezersky, The Grid Kid

8. Clue: With “down and shut the fuck up,” take a chair [3 letters]

Answer: SIT

In the newspaper, you must have seen a clue “1975 musical set in Oz with “The” for the answer WIZ, or [International Court of Justice site, with “The”] for the answer HAGUE.

Nobody refers to the musical as just WIZ or the International Court site as just HAGUE. But THE WIZ and THE HAGUE.

Although, there’s nothing flashy about the answer SIT. But I thought it would be funny to write a saucy clue that makes the answer blatantly obvious at the same time.

It is like in those SNL Celebrity Jeopardy sketches where the category basically spells it all out, like Foods That End In ‘amburger’.”

–Evan Birnholz, Devil Cros

9. Clue: Michigan county I promise never to use in a crossword again [6 letters]

Answer: ALPENA

“Sometimes you are stuck using a word that not many solvers are going to know. And you will definitely feel bad about it.

Then you can brazen it out by cluing straightforwardly. Else you can take a contrite tone to let solvers know that you wish you didn’t have to inflict this entry upon them.

That’s what Matt Gaffney did here, and he kept my promise in the intervening five years.

— Matt Gaffney, Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest

10. Turndown for Watt? [3 letters]

Answer: NAE

“James Watt, the inventor who improved the steam engine, was Scottish and NAE is ‘No’ in Scottish. If you don’t know that song, getting the right answer is next to impossible.

— Matt Jones, Jonesin’

11. U.S. national anthem [21 letters]

Answer: Lift Every Voice & Singh

“This was the marquee answer in a jumbo-sized puzzle. In that particular puzzle, the theme was ‘legends,’ so every theme answer started with a word that could follow ‘leg’ (a ‘leg’-end, if you will): WORK MIRACLES, LOCK HORNS, WARMER CLIMES etc.

I’m proud of this clue/answer because I’m proud of my heritage, and also because, as I later found out, there’s another 21-letter song title that fits the clue. Who knew?”

Erik Agard, Glutton For Pun

12. Winds up on a cliff? [6 letters]

Answer: Breeze

“This clue, from a May 2015 puzzle titled ‘Mailing Addresses,’ is a fave. For me, the cornerstone of puzzle-making is: writing twisty clues for simple, un-glitzy words.

This clue hangs on the pronunciation of a single word. Solvers wrote in, saying they hated me until they got to the ‘aha.’ Then all was forgiven. Until the next time, of course!”

Elizabeth C. Gorski, Crossword Nation

13. They pass gas… stations [6 letters]

Answer: TESLAS

“There’s been a lot of discussion about everything Elon Musk has been doing and creating. So, Chris King wanted to make a pun on that.

So, tried making a “hybrid” clue, which would use two definitions of gas. Maybe it’s the inner teenager in me, but I love that I get to include this fart joke in my puzzle. Never gets old.”

–Chris King, Chris Words

14. How to get a thong for a song? [4 letters]

Answer: LISP

“There are certain words that show up in a crossword constructor’s grid that want to be cleverly embedded in the insidiously clever way.

It may be the subject matter of the word, the word may have a lot of synonyms, it may be easily adaptable to a clever bit of wordplay, or whatever other reason.

ELOPE and RHYME is two of them and another one is LISP is another.

I was brainstorming for some suitably giggle-worthy pairs of  ‘s’/’th’ words (that represent a lisp) when I came across ‘thong’/’song’. This was very interesting.

–Tim Croce, Club 72

15) STYE

This runs amok in the world of black and white boxes and inside the walls of doctors’ offices.

The red, painful lump can pop up on the eye-lid. This is also known to be a pain when completing the crossword as it’s sometimes spelled without the “e.”

The confusion that may arise is, don’t stop there because “sty” can also be a place where pigs reside.

16) SOHO

London residents and New Yorkers both have a neighborhood bearing this name.

The Brits it’s “Soho” and for the Yankees, it’s “SoHo”. But Connor notes can also be used as an exclamation.

17) SMEE

This is commonly associated with Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s right-hand man in Peter Pan.

This term can also refer to a duck, which means the common threads there are water and a general sense of being underappreciated.

18) PSST

This can be very tricky as well as interesting. Maybe because it doesn’t have any vowels.

All-consonant words are increasingly hard to come by when you get beyond a few letters. Although abbreviations can often pop up in their place.


Shakespeare is why we all know about iambic pentameter. But the Greeks came up with it and after multiple mentions, here is a safe pattern suggesting that a working knowledge of the ancient civilization will serve you well in the crossword game.


One of the Greek muses she is a favorite both because of the number of vowels in her name and for the convenient double meaning of “muse” depending on whether it’s a verb or a noun.

21) EMU

As you might have noticed by now, vowel-heavy words are popular in the crossword world. Connor notes that while the flightless bird often gets the attention, eau (as in the French word for water) and ECU (or European Currency Unit, the precursor to the euro) are similar and oft-used alternatives.

22) ASEA

This one is both easier and harder than you think. Intuitively, it means “on the sea” or “to the sea,” but is often used in intentionally misleading clues like “puzzled.”

23) ARGO

You’re not a crossword master if you only know the 2012 film or the cornstarch brand. Argo is also the name of the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed in search of the Golden Fleece.

24) ALEE

The side of a ship that’s sheltered from the wind, this word can also be an adverb meaning “away from the wind” or an order to steer toward the lee.

25) The flower of Glasgow’ (5)

Answer: The CLYDE

If you start thinking about ‘tulip’, ‘daisy’ or ‘pansy’ then you’ve been led up the garden path (literally!). 

It’s really talking about a ‘flow-er’ as in something that flows. What flows through Glasgow?

There will be many clues and answers that you will find when you sit down next time to solve a new puzzle.

Hope you have a good online crossword puzzle-solving experience.

You may also like