Our February 2nd puzzle had a (hopefully amusing) twist: the clue for 12-Across was [Star of 1993's "Groundhog Day" whose character keeps experiencing the same thing over and over] for BILL MURRAY. Nothing unusual so far, but then the clue for 27-Across was [Star of 1993's "Groundhog Day" whose character keeps experiencing the same thing over and over (like you just did on this clue)] for, again, BILL MURRAY.
You were supposed to laugh there, since the repeated clue and answer breaks a firm crossword rule that the same word can't appear twice in a grid. This rule is mostly there for the sake of elegance and aesthetics, and there are some gray areas.
Not a gray area is using the exact same entry, like BILL MURRAY twice here, in the same grid. Just plain not allowed (unless you're breaking the rule on purpose to be funny, as I was there). But then things get murky: could you use BILL MURRAY and BILLS in a grid, if BILLS were clued as [Monthly payments]? Some editors might say that's too close, while others wouldn't have a problem with it since the two BILLs don't share the same root.
Short words repeated as parts of phrases wouldn't bother most editors, so you'll commonly see two entries like FADE IN and IN TIME coexisting peacefully in the same grid. Even if the two IN's crossed each other, most editors (and solvers) wouldn't find it objectionable (or even notice).
The longer the word, the more noticeable it is, and so the more reluctant a crossword constructor will be to use it in two entries in the same grid. FADE IN and IN TIME, as I mentioned, are OK since IN is only two letters long. But STRETCH OUT and THAT'S A STRETCH repeats a 7-letter word, which is likely to be noticed and evoke frowns of crossword disapproval.
Spot a repeated word in a grid? Report it to the crossword authorities by tweeting atl #beastxword.
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