Goading the Goliaths: Secrets of NYTimes Crosswords’ Most Dreaded Clue

For die-hard New York Times Crossword enthusiasts, there’s a singular word that sends shivers down their spines: Goad. It’s not the difficulty – Goad clues can range from straightforward to bone-chillingly cryptic – but the sheer unpredictability that makes it a harbinger of both frustration and, ultimately, triumphant discovery. This post delves deep into the mysterious realm of Goad clues, unveiling their history, dissecting their tactics, and equipping you with the tools to conquer them with confidence.

A Historical Haunting: Goad’s Ghostly Origins

The legend of Goad dates back to the golden age of crosswords, attributed to puzzle editor Emily Cox and her penchant for obscure literary references. While the first “official” Goad clue appeared in 1942, its spirit was present much earlier, lurking in clues with unusual wordplay or unexpected answers. Over time, Goad evolved into a deliberate stylistic choice, a mischievous wink from the editor to seasoned solvers.

The Chameleon of Cryptics: Deciphering Goad’s Deceptive Disguises

God doesn’t discriminate – it can appear in any corner of the puzzle, cloaked in various disguises:

Homophones: A seemingly straightforward clue might involve a wordplay on a homophone that’s not the most common meaning (e.g., “Goad with a point?” for “STING”).

Double Entendres: Brace yourself for playful ambiguity, where one answer seemingly fits, but a hidden layer reveals a more devious solution (e.g., “Provide a goad?” for “INCITE”).

Archaic Meanings: Dust off your dictionary! Goad might delve into obsolete word definitions, demanding you think outside the box (e.g., “Goad for horses?” for “WHIPPIN’ POST”).

Literary Allusions: Prepare for a deep dive into obscure literature, mythology, or historical references – Goad loves to test your erudition (e.g., “Goad of Erinys?” for “TORCH”).

Weapon of Wits: Tools to Tackle Goad’s Torments

Facing a Goad clue doesn’t have to be an exercise in masochism. Here are some strategies to outsmart its riddles:

Think laterally: Don’t jump to the first answer that fits. Consider alternative meanings, homophones, and double entendres.

Embrace ambiguity: Goad thrives on playful language. Don’t be afraid to explore multiple interpretations.

Expand your knowledge: Brush up on your literary references, historical tidbits, and old-fashioned vocabulary. Every bit helps!

Consult resources: Don’t hesitate to reach for dictionaries, thesauruses, online references, or even fellow crossword enthusiasts for hints and brainstorming.

Embrace the struggle: Remember, the joy of solving a Goad clue lies in the process of unraveling its mysteries. Enjoy the challenge!

Tales of Triumph: Conquering Goad’s Peaks

The satisfaction of cracking a Goad clue is unlike any other. It’s a testament to your puzzle-solving prowess, perseverance, and bottomless well of curiosity. Here are some inspiring stories of Goad-slaying success:

The Literary Linguist: An avid reader used their deep knowledge of Shakespearean vocabulary to solve a Goad clue referencing a lesser-known character.

The Crosswordian Collaborators: A group of online friends pooled their diverse knowledge and witty insights to tackle a particularly fiendish Goad clue.

The Tenacious Novice: A new solver, undeterred by the Goad label, spent hours researching historical references and finally unearthed the perfect solution.

Goading Forward: The Enduring Legacy of a Cryptic Mastermind

Goad is more than just a crossword clue; it’s a cultural phenomenon, a badge of honor for dedicated solvers, and a testament to the power of language. It pushes us beyond the boundaries of our vocabulary, tests our knowledge of the obscure, and ultimately rewards us with the thrill of intellectual discovery. So, the next time you encounter a Goad clue, don’t shy away. Embrace the challenge, sharpen your wit, and embark on the exhilarating journey of unraveling its cryptic secrets.


Goad – a mere four letters capable of sending shivers down the spines of seasoned crosswords. But beyond the initial trepidation lies a world of intellectual treasure. Each Goad clue is a meticulously crafted puzzle, a tantalizing invitation to flex your mental muscles and delve into the hidden depths of language.

To conquer Goad is not just about solving a crossword; it’s about embracing the journey of discovery. It’s about stretching your vocabulary, exploring the forgotten corners of history and literature, and ultimately, celebrating the sheer joy of outwitting a master of cryptic craft.

So, the next time you encounter a Goad clue, don’t run away. Take a deep breath, sharpen your wit, and dive headfirst into the exhilarating challenge. Remember, it’s not just about finding the answer, it’s about the thrill of the chase, the triumph of the aha moment, and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve outmaneuvered a cryptic mastermind.

Goad may be the Goliath of crossword clues, but with the right tools and a spirit of adventure, you, the nimble David, can slay it with your intellectual blade.


1. Where can I find more Goad clues to practice on?

Several online resources like CrossWordInfo and XWordInfo archive past NYT crosswords, making it easy to search for specific clues or constructors like Emily Cox.

2. Does cracking Goad clues make me a better crossword solver?

Absolutely! Goad challenges you to think differently, expand your knowledge, and approach puzzle-solving with a more creative lens. These skills will enhance your ability to tackle all kinds of clues, not just Goad.

3. Are there any online communities dedicated to Goad clues?

Yes! Several online forums and social media groups bring together Goad enthusiasts to discuss past clues, share solving strategies, and celebrate their triumphs.

4. Is Goad always used by Emily Cox?

While Emily Cox popularized the Goad style, other NYT crossword editors have adopted it, each adding their own unique twist to the clues.

5. What’s the most challenging Goad clue you’ve ever encountered?

The beauty of Goad lies in its subjective difficulty. What one solver finds impossible, another might crack with ease. Share your most challenging Goad experience in the comments below!

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