PIEDFORT \pee.AY.for\ n. a specially minted edition of a coin that is much thicker and heavier than normal. Also PIEFORT
A piedfort is traditionally twice the weight of its standard version, and historically was used as either a ‘proof’ for minting the public version of the coin, or as a showy presentational piece.
Nowadays piedforts are usually made as commemorative editions aimed at collectors. The 1982 silver 20 pence coin in the picture is the first piedfort printed for public consumption in the UK. They must have made quite a few of them, because you can still snap one up on eBay for under 50 bucks.
Interestingly, the piefort spelling is based on a misspelling of the original word that occurred in a famous coin catalog. The catalog was so widely circulated over several decades that the misspelling became an accepted variant.
Coincidentally enough, both spellings of today’s word have more common anagrams that might make them easier to spot in a game…
I hope you PROFITED from that PIEDFORT you bought way back in 1982.
Why not melt down your PIEFORT in a FIREPOT and then make two of them?
Just thinking aloud there ;-)
Scrabble players should pay particular heed to the French pronunciation of this word, as I’ve heard more than one player pronounce it as if it was some kind of military fast-food joint. I’d hate to see you embarrass yourself in a television interview about how well educated Scrabble players are(n’t).
ECU \AY.kue or ay.KUE\ n. the name of an old French gold coin, adopted by several others since
First introduced into France by King Louis IX in 1266, the ecu was France’s first gold coin. The name has been reincarnated several times since, but mostly as a silver coin. Like this outstanding 1767 specimen I spotted on eBay this morning for around $US300…
No, I didn’t buy it!
Ecu has appeared in many American newspaper crossword puzzles, so it is definitely one the avid solver will need to remember. The sorts of clues you should now be able to quickly decode include…
Antique French coin
Calais coin of old
Coin depicting Louis XVI
French coin during the Renaissance
Old coin worth five francs
I’m sure you get the idea.
By the way, if you do decide to go eBay shopping for an ecu, don’t get too excited by all the perfect shiny-looking specimens going for a few bucks. The label on those coins will almost certainly refer to the other ECU (European Currency Unit).
And if that tip saves you a few hundred bucks, I think you definitely owe me another beer!
Collins/CSW/SOWPODS players get to extend today’s word to form another old French coin: the CARDECU or CARDECUE
ASSIGNAT \ass.in.YAH\ n. a paper note issued during the French Revolution that was secured by church properties
When revolutionaries took over France’s government in 1789, they immediately faced an insurmountable debt and were unable to fund their continued work. Talleyrand, a powerful French diplomat at the time, proposed a scheme whereby they would confiscate all of the Vatican’s property and use it to secure a paper bond called an assignat.
Below is an excellent short video explaining how the assignat worked. Or more accurately, why it didn’t…
ECRU /EH.kroo, AY.kroo, eh.KROO or ay.KROO/ n. an off-white color reminiscent of unbleached linen or silk
Example: “They have recently opened a new spinning department initially producing Aran and chunky yarns in both ecru and naturally coloured British wools, such as Black Welsh, Suffolk and Wensleydale.”
You’ll see plenty of giveaway synonyms in the crossword grid, including…
Light brown color
Napkin shade, maybe
If nothing else, today’s word will impress your Scrabble or Words With Friends opponent a tad more than its common anagram. And speaking of those games, here’s a puzzle closer for you…
What anagram of PICTURES contains the letters E-C-R-U in that order?
EPEE /AY.pay or EP.ay/ n. a sword used for dueling and fencing
A few words you’re likely to see in the same crossword clues as the epee include the FOIL and SABER/SABRE (the other two common swords used in fencing), the RAPIER (a cousin of these swords used for thrusting attacks), and the PISTE (the strip of ground on which a fencing competition takes place; pronounced /peest/).
In rare situations you might even encounter the PASSADO (a forward thrust movement) or the FLEURET (an alternative name for the foil).
Although the epee will usually be clued in a straightforward way (once you’ve learned the above lingo of course), some of the more playful clues I’ve encountered include…
It serves a duel purpose
It may be waved at the Olympics
Of course, it always helps being told the answer in advance ;-)
If you see an epee on the board in a game of Scrabble or Words With Friends, don’t hesitate to capitalize on the front hook opportunity of TEPEE (a conical shaped Native American tent), which can also be spelled TEEPEE or TIPI.
And don’t forget that the person actually doing the fencing can garner you an easy 50 points too; the fencer is called an EPEEIST!