03.30.08 -- Fool -- the Acrostic

From the cover of “Fools Are Everywhere…”
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Click here for abridged post in LARGE PRINT.
Puzzle by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon, edited by Will Shortz
This delightful Sunday acrostic anticipates the advent of April Fools’ Day with a quotation from a paragraph of FOOLS ARE EVERYWHERE: The Court Jester Around the World” by Beatrice K. OTTO:
“The connection between the jester and the poet worked both ways, and THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A GOOD JESTER INCLUDED THE ABILITY TO EXTEMPORIZE VERSE AND TROT OUT RHYMING RETORTS OR CRINGE-INSPIRING DOGGEREL. POETIC SKILL WAS A VITAL PART OF THE JESTER’S RAGBAG OF TRICKS AT ALL TIMES and in all places. The Elizabethan comic actor and jester Richard Tarlton was so renowned for his ability to extemporize witty verse that he gave his name to a verb, “to tarltonize,” and William Kemp, another Shakespearian clown, actor, was also known for this ability. Actors such as Kemp, needing the actual skills of the jester rather than the ability simply to play the part from a script, came very close to being jesters in their own right.”
The defined words: OAFISH (A. Crude and not very clever); TATTLED (B. Made like a blabbermouth); TAROT (C. Reading material for a cartomancer); OPERETTA (D. Lyrical form of amusement); FORECASTING (E. Weatherman’s job); OSTRACIZED (F. Banished by votes, cast on potsherds, once); OVERACT (G. Indulge in caricature); LITTLEJOHN (H. One of the Merry Men [2 wds.]); SIGHTGAG (I. Clown shoes or a fake arrow through the head, e.g. [2 wds.]); AMPLIFIED (J. Plugged in for playing; explained further); REJOINDER (K. Comeback from a wag); ESTRAGON (L. “Waiting for Godot” role for Robin Williams); EPIGRAM (M. Pearl of wisdom from Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker); VESTS (N. Garb often worn by magicians and jugglers); EXCALIBUR (O. Weapon thrown into a lake by Sir. Bedivere); RISIBILITY (P. Laughter, or an inclination to laugh); YORICK (Q. Fellow “of most excellent fancy,” to Hamlet); WOLFGANG (R. Puck seen on the Food Network); HUMORIST (S. Will Rogers or Ogden Nash, e.g.); ESPRIT (T. Jeu’___ [witticism]); REDSKELTON (U. Member of the first class of International Clown Hall of Fame inductees, 1989 [2 wds.]); ELOQUENT (V. Silver-tongued; expressively stated).
I wish I were a clever-enough ass to express what a wonderfully cheerful and brilliant acrostic that Emily Cox, Henry Rathvon & Will Shortz have given us -- but then how could I be taken seriously? Suffice to say that this acrostic is enormously entertaining -- and one up on the April Fool!
Click on image to enlarge.
Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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Leon said...

Thanks for the write-up. I was inspired to do my first acrostic knowing that your site would help explain my missteps which were esprit and Red Skelton.

DONALD said...


I am very fond of the acrostic, it's one of the few extra puzzles I indulge myself -- did you do it electronically or on paper? I use the internet and transfer to paper -- because of the "bookkeeping" involved with letters & numbers, etc.