• cruciverbalist •
kru-sê-vêr-bêl-ist • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A crossword puzzle creator. 2. A crossword puzzle enthusiast or a word game enthusiast in general.
Notes: Today's is a Good Word that we should have run long ago, since I am sure most of our readers are word game fans. This word is so new that none of its derivations have reached print yet, so far as we know. However—you read it here first—we can tell you what they will be. The noun for writing or filling in crosswords will be cruciverbalism, and solving problems as though they were crossword puzzles will be done cruciverbalistically (the adverb).
In Play: Most of us will use this word most often in referring to a crossword puzzle enthusiast: "My father is a cruciverbalist who holds up the whole family when he gets the New York Times before the rest of us." A good cruciverbalist will be able to take the word startling and remove one letter at a time in such a sequence that the result of each deletion is a word, ending up with one letter which is also a word, e.g. startling > starting > . . . . How good a cruciverbalist are you?
Word History: Today's Good Word is one recently contrived from bits and pieces of English and Latin. It first appeared in print in the February 1975 issue of Games & Puzzles. The archaic English word verbalist "someone skilled in the use of words" was conjoined to the root of the Latin word crux (cruc-is) "cross". We cannot trace the history of all the components of this word, so let's take a closer look at -ist, the suffix on verbalist. This suffix is composed of the verbal suffix -ize in verbalize (verbalise in the UK) plus the suffix -t. Of course, you may replace -t with -m and produce an abstract noun, verbalism "verbal or linguistic expression". (Now let's verbalize our gratitude to Jerry Gault, a cruciverbalist himself, no doubt, for suggesting today's Good Word.)