New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor ‘Apologizes’ for Including ‘BEANER’ as Answer

Jan 3, 2019
1:52 pm

We got this tip from Gustavo Arellano, when he tweeted this on Wednesday night:

For a second, we thought it was a joke, but yeah, it was real, as these screen grabs of the New York Times’ crossword from Tuesday show. See the next two images near 2 Down:

We highlighted the answer in case you missed it:

And this screen grab shows the clue for the answer:

Pitch to the head, informally?


As expected, NYTimes puzzle editor Will Shortz has already issued a half-hearted apology, one that you HAVE to read:

“Maybe we live in rarified circles,” could perhaps be the most NYTimes response ever. Irony noted.

So the editors never heard the slur before, and they didn’t think this was an issue until someone told them.


By the way, here is what Jeff Chen wrote:

I generally think Will does a great job in editing the NYT puzzle — hard to argue with results, with solvership exploding into the hundreds of thousands under his helm. This is one of the less than 5% of things that I strongly disagree with, though. Yes, BEANER is in the dictionary as a baseball term. But a pitch at someone’s head is usually called a “bean ball,” not a BEANER.

And I Googled BEANER to see what came up first — a page full of definitions as the racist term.

I respect Will’s viewpoint that people will see what they want to see in any entry. For example, I personally take offense to CHINK in puzzles, and a couple of readers have bluntly told me “I’m being too sensitive” (and worse). My response is that it’s easy to say that if you haven’t been told to “go home, you dirty f*cking chink” (and much worse). But I do understand this one, since a CHINK in one’s armor is a very common saying. So I shrug it off.

BEANER on the other hand, feels so, so, so very wrong, considering that the alternate definition isn’t much in real usage these days.

Puzzles ought to be enjoyable, a smile-inducing diversion from the daily struggles of life. Even if BEANER punches just a small number of solvers, that makes it worth changing — especially since the fix is super easy. ABEL to AHEM and ANI to ALI is just one of the many ways to revise.

An ugly blot on an otherwise pleasant puzzle.

In addition, a NYTimes spokesperson said this to The Wrap: “Tuesday’s Crossword puzzle included an entry that was offensive and hurtful. It is simply not acceptable in The New York Times Crossword and we apologize for including it.”

Here’s to rarified circles.