In Monday's puzzle, 27-Across read [Greek letter X], which was either a gimme or a "Now, which one is that again..?" for most solvers. CHI it was, but it is tough to keep track sometimes.
Four of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet don't appear in standard crosswords because they're too short (MU, NU, PI, XI), while others are too long to pop up more than occasionally (OMICRON, EPSILON, UPSILON, LAMBDA).
In that sweet spot of three-and-four letters in length, we see the crossword regulars: ETA, RHO, TAU, PHI, CHI, and PSI, plus vowel-rich IOTA and the useful twins BETA and ZETA. Many of these can be clued away from their Greek letter-ness, such as ETA being [Airport pickup info] or CHI being [Life force, from the Mandarin]. Many letters also have meanings in the sciences, which can lead to more interesting clues than the standard [Tenth Greek letter] and the like.
How close some of these letters are in spelling can also be confusing. UPSILON or EPSILON? BETA or ZETA? And the PHI-PSI-CHI complex is especially tricky if you don't happen to know the answer, since you could have ?HI or P?I and still not be sure.
If you happen to speak Greek, or if you are/were in a sorority or fraternity, then clues like [X, in Athens] will be a snap. But if not, then every Greek letter clue has the potential to be a Nu frustration.
Are you an alpha solver when it comes to these letters, or is it all Greek to you? Sound off about it at #beastxword.
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