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The Greek alphabet makes a plethora of puzzle clues

In Monday’s puzzle, 27-Across read [Greek letter X], which was either a gimme or a “Now which one is this again …?” for most solvers. CHI it used to be, but sometimes it’s hard to keep track.

Four of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet do not appear in standard crosswords because they are too short (MU, NU, PI, XI), while others are too long to appear more than occasionally (OMICRON, EPSILON, UPSILON, LAMBDA).

In this sweet spot of three and four letters in length, we see the regular crosswords: ETA, RHO, TAU, PHI, CHI and PSI, plus vowel-rich IOTA and the useful twins BETA and ZETA. Many of them can be deduced from their Greek letter, as ETA being [Airport pickup info] or CHI being [Life force, from the Mandarin]. Many letters also have meanings in science, which can lead to more interesting clues than the norm [Tenth Greek letter] etc.

The spelling of some of these letters can also be confusing. UPSILON or EPSILON? BETA or ZETA? And the PHI-PSI-CHI complex is especially tricky if you don’t know the answer, because you might have “HI or P” I and still not be sure.

If you speak Greek, or are / were in a sorority or fraternity, then clues like [X, in Athens] will be a breeze. But if not, then each Greek letter clue has the potential to be a Naked frustration.

Are you an alpha solver when it comes to these letters, or is it all Greek for you? Talk to #beastxword.

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