Spoiler Alert

Photo by Neil Daftary on Unsplash

Working on Thursday’s New York Times Connections puzzle, I stared at the word suede long and hard, wondering what it had to do with broil, watch, blur, timer, hourglass, or any of the ten other words it supposedly might connect to. I stared at the word so long it became a meaningless concoction of letters, lacking any meaning at all.

[In case you’re not addicted, Connections offers sixteen words that break into four groups which have a common thread. A few days ago, for instance, buzz, drone, hum, and purr formed a “monotonous sound” group. Not usually so easy, though.]

Suede looked so strange to me, I began wondering about its roots. Where does that weird word come from?

Turns out suede comes from the name of a country, and if you’re guessing Sweden, you’re right. Before we get there, though, let’s examine the actual meaning–“undressed kid skin,” which has nothing to do with naked children (an understandable mistake). A clearer definition is “leather with the the flesh side rubbed to create a velvety nap.” No doubt much of what passes for suede today is some lab-created dried stretched smoothed soft plastic substance. Which is good news for the actual kids, i.e., baby goats.

Many countries turn out both critters and leather, so why Sweden? The Swedes produced prized, soft leather gloves, or gants de Suede, “gloves of Sweden,” and the term began being shortened to suede in English in the mid-19th century.

This research was merely putting off my struggles with Connections. I then tried looking up suede as a slang word, which is cheating but not really cheating. Sometimes Connections lists four ordinary words with hip new meanings I have never encountered. Suede in hip lingo, I learned, describes a cool, good-looking ladies man, as in suave. I would try to incorporate this term into my everyday conversation, but I don’t think I know anyone who fits the bill at this stage of my life. And none of the other Connections words connected with this meaning. Who calls a cute guy a timer or a survey?

As it turned out, the Connected suede is actually a proper noun (spoiler alert) with a musical link. Its three companions were blur, oasis, and pulp, which some of you smarter people probably recognize as 90s Britpop bands. I arrived at this conclusion only by solving the other combinations first.

Do you play? Thoughts?

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3 Responses to Spoiler Alert

  1. Sarah Becker says:

    I do online crosswords, NY Times and LA Times, almost every day. I look things up while doing them. I don’t consider it cheating; it’s part of the game. I learn something new every day.
    Spoiler alert:
    For instance, I know that “nene” is a goose, because it’s a common crossword noun. But I found out today that it’s the most rare goose in the world! Now that’s something.

  2. Kathy says:

    Jewel–Today’s is hard!

  3. Jewel Moulthrop says:

    Yes, I play Connections every day! And it seems to be getting m ore difficult as the weeks go by, or am I becoming less “connected?”

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