B A R E L Y B A D  W E B  S I T E  
   Previous       See the 48 hardest clues   


Why Trilbies = FEET

Before the folks at CRUCIVERB-L leapt on this problem -- in a veritable tornado of activity over two or three days in late January of 1999 -- this page said,

To this day, eleven years later, I still have no idea why that clue -- Trilbies -- is in any way appropriate for that answer -- FEET.  I looked up both words and their variants in literally every potentially useful reference work I owned at the time, and I have been on the lookout for an explanation since then, but I still don't get it.  If you are the first person to explain to me the relationship between trilbies and feet, and I really will snail you a new $2 bill.

Now, courtesy of Nelson and Stan and Myles, NYT crossword constructors all, I have the answer, to wit:


Top of Trilbies page

I have told both of these people [Stan and Myles] that they may qualify for the $2 prize, and suggested that they contact you to collect.  I knew Cruciverb-L was the place to go to find the answer to your question.  These people thrive on tackling exactly that sort of word-related mystery.

-- from Nelson Hardy

Note: The link above is not to Nelson's e-mail; it's better.

Top of Trilbies page

The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary says that "trilby" comes from the eponymous heroine of George du Maurier's 1894 novel about an artist's model noted for her beautiful feet, but that the jocular sense of "foot" is now rare or obsolete [except in certain U. S. crosswords, apparently]. (The trilby hat is from the stage version of the same work.)

-- from Stanley A. Kurzban

Note: Stanley is a co-author (with Mel Rosen) of the BOOK titled The Compleat Cruciverbalist: Or How To Solve and Compose Crossword Puzzles for Fun and Profit (1981, 1982), as well as the updated and expanded VERSION, recommended by Will Shortz, editor of The New York Times crossword puzzle, titled The Random House Puzzlemaker's Handbook: How to Create and Market Your Own Crosswords and other Word Puzzles (1995).

Top of Trilbies page

Take a look at this page from the Ottawa [Kansas] Daily Republic of 30 Nov. 1911, in which you'll find the following bizarre sentence (it's a bizarre story):

"Baker came to Chanute and had a surgeon log off his little toes and pare down the joints thereof, so that he could get his feet into women's shoes.  His Trilbies were very small for a man."

Here's some independent corroboration: My New York Times Crossword Puzzle Dictionary with copyright dates of 1974, 1977 includes "trilby" as a synonym under "foot."

-- from Myles Callum























Just for the record, Stan's two-dollar bill's serial number is J 20720482 A, and Myles's is J 20720483 A.

Nelson modestly declined my offer of J 20720484 A, and even declined the 10% finder's fee of 40 cents.



B A R E L Y B A D  W E B  S I T E  
   See the 48 hardest clues