Solution: Worst Crossword Ever


Authors: Kris Brown, Benji Nguyen

This puzzle is not actually about solving a crossword, but identifying patterns of "errors" in the clues. The answer to every clue can be found at the end of the clue, and there is a pre-filled grid provided. The flavor text suggests using "six highlighters" to go over errors, implying that there are six different kinds of errors and that some kind of highlighting or drawing will be needed for the puzzle.

Categories for these "errors" are given by the six clues in the "NOT EVEN IN THE GRID?" section of the puzzle. Each clue also has a number that tells you the number of occurrences of each error type.

ClueAnswerError CategoryNumber
A confusing reverend who confused at least seven of his parishioners. I would not recommend attending the services of Spooner. (7)SPOONERSpoonerisms (swapped sounds at starts of words)7
A punctuation mark sometimes used to denote possession (e.g. "John's eleven bad clues"), which is not to be confused with the rhetorical device called apostrophe. (10)APOSTROPHEApostrophe errors11
A language-busting viral internet phenomenon. Try not to use them, as your mom was complaining eight times about English-breaking memes! (7-8 5)ENGLISH-BREAKING MEMESMeme usage that results in improper English8
In his plays, Shakespeare famously used this word form, which normally has ten syllables per line. For instance, Hamlet employs iambic pentameter. (6 10)IAMBIC PENTAMETERErrors in iambic pentameter syllable count10
This is a phenomenon in which people mistakenly misuse a foreign language rule. If you're a diplomat, you should definitely avoid making seven countries mad with a hypercorrection! (15)HYPERCORRECTIONHypercorrections or misapplication of foreign language rules7
There were six conflations between the en and em varieties of this symbol in the text adventure version of the Crash Bandicoot level "Crash Dash." (4)DASHDash or hyphen errors6

Explanations for each clue and what category they belong to are given below:


A big Scorsese movie starring Robert De Niro and Ron Dickles that takes place in a casino. (6)CASINODon Rickles
It's what a parent feels after seeing the children chewing the doors and breathing a sigh of relief. (6)RELIEFdoing the chores
The real first name of popular hip-hop artist Usher, who was named after the final word of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Hall of the Fouse of Usher." (5)USHERFall of the House
This is what you'd fail to hear at church, if some parent fails to brush their hat during the sermon. (6)SERMONhush their brat
When saying 'lingerie' in France, do this.
Remember you must lime with 'raw degree.' (5 4 3 6)
RHYME WITH LAW DEGREErhyme with law degree
Neither an iambic nor hyperforeign error
One whose speech upliftingly fills your hole with soap, as is custom for a good orator. (6)ORATORsoul with hope
This is not a property of candles, so it'd be unusual to receive a package of candles that says "Candle with hair: fragile." (7)FRAGILEhandle with care


Although Grog'u has no confirmed relation to this character, that didn't stop fans from calling him Baby Yoda. (4)YODAGrogu
Not a meme error
It's that which leads the shark straight to it's prey
Between this pair of options: sight or scent. (5)
The titular kind of body of water featured in Dawsons Creek, which does not take place in the Canadian city of Dawson Creek. (5)CREEKDawson's
Not a hypercorrection
What you shouldnt eat while on the altar for your wedding, if you don't want to elicit snickers. (8)SNICKERSshouldn't
A kind of Texan stew that you might make using beans, tomato's, and a chili. (5)CHILItomatoes
I also couldnt believe it, but these are literally the final words of If on a winters night a traveler, by Italo Calvino. (2 2 1 7 5 1 8 2 5 7)IF ON A WINTER'S NIGHT A TRAVELER BY ITALO CALVINOcouldn't
If you don't want to seem like one of these people, just publicly say Thomas Hobbe's quote "Words are the counters of wise men, but they are the money of fools." (5)FOOLSHobbes
Medieval profession featured in such Spanish and/or English works as Don Quixote d' la Mancha and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. (6)KNIGHTDon Quixote de la Mancha
Not a hypercorrection
This is an alternate name of the devils. It is also the namesake for the nickname of the Dragon Ball Z character Mr. Satan. (5)SATANdevil's
This character put up a big façade for our heroes in L. Frank Baums' classic tale The Wizard of Oz. (3 6 2 2)THE WIZARD OF OZBaum's
Not a hypercorrection
This is a common mistranslation of 'hoi polloi' for Spanish speakers (admittedly, its true the general public does want chicken today). (7 5)CHICKEN TODAYit's
Not a hypercorrection


A personality type characterized by the following traits: having a strong desire for social stability, being amogusly sus, and totally acting like a Taurus. (6)TAURUSsus
7h15 k1nd 0f 'f1' 74k35 p14c3 d33p 1n 7h3 5ky.
7h1nk 451m0v 4nd 1377325 5-C-1. (3)
Not an iambic error
A Shiba Inu might describe this as
a wow amaze such puzzle very clue. (4)
CLUEvery clue
Not iambic error
A word that elicits one's updoots from every wholesome 100 Keanu chungus. (7)CHUNGUSKeanu chungus
Er Mah Gerd Thert Ferlin Whern Yer Kers A Hert Ger Ernd Ferl Ser Herper. (5)HAPPYErmahgerd
The number 🔢 of tracks 🔥🔥 with 'Crocodile' 🐊 💦 😱 in their title in David ✡️ Wise's 🤔 soundtrack 🎶💯 😩👌🏻 for 🙈 Donkey 🐵 Kong 🙉 Country 🇺🇸🙊 2. (3)TWOemojipasta
The part of speech of the first word of the sentence "I enjoyed 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.'" Incidentally, I don't think Tlön is pogchamp since I'm very pro-noun. (7)PRONOUNpogchamp
Not a hypercorrection
Yo dawg, I herd you like self-reference, so I put self-reference in this puzzle, so you can self-refer while solving the crossword. (9)CROSSWORDyo dawg


A prefix that comes from a German word.
It sounds like the car service Uber. (4)
UBERNot a hypercorrection
It's something you both have to decide on
In order to go out on a date. (4)
One common breakfast food, enjoyed by most
(This may include Sir Francis Bacon). (5)
The number you would have to guess if told
its value is between one and one. (3)
The person in control of the cute sheep,
When solving logic puzzles in Baba Is You. (3)
This word is the past tense of the word 'will.'
You use it subjunctively, as anyone would. (5)
Here is another clumsy crossword clue:
The starting letter of the word 'a.' (1)
In Zelda, Link does this with Ganon's blights.
The room is filled with water in one such fight. (5)
This '90s show will teach you one good thing—
It's how to make a posse of friends. (7)
FRIENDSNot an apostrophe nor dash error
This golden chest sought by a man named Jones
Was the MacGuffin of Raiders of the Lost Ark. (3)


A spicy sauce with a Spanish name that might include jalapeño peppers (or even habañero, if one wants a really picante salsa). (5)SALSAhabañero
As a first line of defence against one of these British scallywags, get a bright-coloured sign that says "No loitering! Stand back a few metres" to detre a ciggie seller. (6)SELLERdetre
In Moore's Proof of an External World, acknowledging this body part delivers a coup-de-gras to those French postmodernists, summarized by the proclamation "This is one hand." (4)HANDcoup-de-gras
After years of moonlighting as a baristo, this Italian actor finally made it big in Leaving Las Vegas, starring Nick Cage. (4 4)NICK CAGEbaristo
Even the most intelligent octopi never beat the Latin grandmaster José Capablanca at this game, on account of them being unable to play chess. (5)CHESSoctopi
This language may not be your true forté,
But say ""oui oui"" to act like you speak French. (6)
Not iambic
Some German loanwords like 'doppelgänger' are perfectly fine English, but sometimes we write them without the ümlaut. (6)UMLAUTümlaut


A Broadway play – written by Lin Manuel Miranda – that dramatizes the life of Alexander Hamilton. (8)HAMILTONem dash needed + Lin-Manuel
A period of childhood where telling your teacher to spell I⁠—C⁠—U⁠—P every day may land you another year in kindergarten. (12)KINDERGARTENhyphens needed to spell out words
"In London lies a knight a pope interred,"
Is one of these from The Da-Vinci Code. (4)
Not an iambic error
The surname of the author of the multi-part quote “'You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky' - Michael Scott.” (5)SCOTThyphen not used for quotes
This model named Bianca on the cover of a June—July issue of British Vogue revealed her secret to success is her diet of pure roe. (3)ROEen dash needed for date range
A get—out—of—jail—free—card for any wrongdoing whatsoever, although you'll first have to inform the judge, "I was just being ironic." (5 6)BEING IRONIChyphen or nothing is better

There are six more clues than the sum of total clues that should be sorted into an error category. One may note there are 55 clues and the sum of the numbers in the category-announcing clues is 49. The six leftover clues are also not in the grid and describe methods of extraction for each error type.

ClueAnswerExtraction for ...
In contractions, apostrophes connect one of these head-to-tail to another word. (4)WORDApostrophe
The particular shape of the Big Dipper and Little Dipper is the subject matter of this field, which is practiced in departments of astronomy. (9)ASTRONOMYSpoonerism
The Shape of Dash, an unsuccessful sequel to The Shape of Water, didn't form any of these on opening night outside theaters, as audiences got bored fast by a bunch of horizontal lines.LINESDash
A meme that causes some to laugh uproariously at six vertical lines and one horizontal one, while everyone else is at a loss. (4)LOSSMeme
The place one's web browser will store data from the Wikipedia page on scansion after solving this puzzle, if you don't clear your cache. (5)CACHEIambic
What one typically is looking for while assigning words in a jumble to European countries; what to do is a question that basic geography answers. (7)ANSWERSHypercorrection

If you highlight the answers in the grid corresponding to a category, you should be able to make out a picture that can fit one of the extractions. Each extraction will have exactly one answer that doesn't seem to fit the intended picture (further hinted by the editor's note claiming there always seems to be one thing off).

Spoonerisms: The picture forms the little and big dippers. The answer that is out of place is RHYME WITH LAW DEGREE.


Apostrophe: Every answer is linked to another answer, except for an extra answer, which is SNICKERS.


English-Breaking Memes: The picture forms the meme "loss," aside from an extraneous answer, which is TAURUS.


Iambic Pentameter: The answers for this category form a pictorial representation of the scansion for iambic pentameter, except for WOULD, which breaks this pattern.


Hypercorrection: If you overlay a map of Europe on top of the answers, they will be in the approximate spot of the country mentioned in their clue, except for the answer SELLER.


Dash: The answers form a straight line (or dash), save for BEING IRONIC.


The final step is to observe that the extra clues all form a nice pentagon, save for one clue that seems to be off. This is the answer to the puzzle, SELLER. And much like the crossword clues themselves, the answer to this puzzle was a part of the puzzle. Commence the groaning.


Sinful Extraction

This puzzle's sin is sloth. "Why slog through a whole puzzle when you can solve it without looking past the first sentence? (5)" The first sentence of this puzzle is the flavor text. If you solve it as you would with the clues in the crossword, you can simply take the last word. The answer isDRAFT. Cue more groaning.

Authors’ Notes

This puzzle probably went through the most iterations (and significant overhauls) out of any puzzle in the hunt. It turns out it is very hard to write and edit a puzzle that relies on finding specific forms of errata. Most things in the puzzle can be attributed to being an artifact of an older version of the puzzle. The puzzle used to have:

  • Many, many red herring clues that weren’t used in a final extraction
  • Clues that indicated error categories used to blend in with the other clues
  • No indication of how many of each category existed
  • Red herring numbers and homophones
  • A host of other categories besides Across and Down, including Rough, Christmas Tree, Financial

This is what we settled on, and it still managed to have some errata.