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Solving “What a Shock!” NYT Crossword Clue | An In-Depth Analysis

Solving crossword puzzles, particularly the renowned New York Times (NYT) crosswords, can be a delightful and mentally stimulating pastime. For many enthusiasts, the satisfaction of cracking a challenging clue like “What a shock!” is unparalleled. The NYT offers a comprehensive guide, written by their crossword columnist and senior staff editor Deb Amlen, to help puzzle solvers of all levels tackle even the most perplexing clues and enhance their solving skills.

This article delves into the intricacies of solving the “What a shock!” NYT crossword clue, providing strategies for deciphering tough clues and highlighting the mental benefits of engaging in this mentally stimulating activity. Whether you’re a seasoned solver or new to the world of crosswords, mastering the techniques to unravel clues like “What a shock!” can lead to a highly rewarding and addictive experience.

The Clue ‘What a shock!’

The New York Times crossword puzzle published on Friday, March 29, 2024, featured the clue “What a shock!” with the answer being STUNNER. This particular puzzle, constructed by Mr. Bunch, marked his debut and boasted an impressive 86% freshness rate. The grid consisted of 15 rows, 15 columns, 68 words, and 35 blocks, containing 3 unique words never used before in the Modern Era and 5 unique words previously used.

The puzzle’s theme, “Hammer Time,” cleverly incorporated five rebus squares containing HOLES, with one square featuring the word MOLE. The theme answers were related to the process of stripping, sanding, priming, and painting wood. Interestingly, the puzzle also included a shoutout to Rex Parker in the News.

Known for its challenging clues and clever wordplay, the NYT crossword is available both in print and online. For those seeking assistance, the website NYT Crossword Answers offers a search function to find specific clues and provides a contact page for reporting any difficulties or issues encountered while solving the puzzle.

Common Challenges in Solving Crosswords

Solving crossword puzzles, especially the New York Times Crossword, can be a challenging endeavor for many enthusiasts. While the puzzles are not a test of intelligence, they do require a keen understanding of what the clues are asking for. Shorter answers, typically three to five-letter words, are generally easier to fill in. However, the NYT crosswords are known for their love of “Crosswordese,” which are often three or four-letter words rarely used in everyday speech.

One of the most common challenges faced by solvers is the difficulty in understanding fill-in-the-blank clues. Additionally, the inability to recognize and remember common 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words can hinder progress. Overlooking the rules that clues obey, such as plurals, foreign words, and abbreviations, can make solving crosswords more difficult.

Other challenges include:

  • Struggling with guessing answers and verifying them through crossers
  • Misinterpreting clues due to preconceived notions about word meanings
  • Failure to identify constructors’ use of misdirection and wordplay
  • Difficulty in recognizing multi-word answers
  • Being unable to solve a puzzle and giving up too early
  • Reluctance to look up answers for fear of cheating

Strategies for Unraveling Tough Crossword Clues

Solving tough crossword clues can be a daunting task, but with the right strategies, you can unravel even the most challenging puzzles. Here are some effective techniques to help you tackle those tricky clues:

  1. Start with easy puzzles and gradually move to more difficult ones as your skills improve.
  2. Practice consistently to build up your skills and familiarize yourself with repeated answers and clues.
  3. Look for “gimmes” or clues that you already know or can easily guess.
  4. Use crossings to confirm your answers by solving the entries that cross it.
  5. Expand your solved territory by building on what you’ve already solved.
  6. Don’t hesitate to look up answers; it’s a learning process.
  7. If stuck, take a break and come back to it later. Your brain will continue working on the clue in the background.
  8. Solve with a friend to utilize each other’s strengths.
  9. Pay attention to specific instructions or wordplay that could indicate an alternative meaning.
  10. Break down longer clues into smaller parts, looking for words within words or identifying synonyms or antonyms.

Additionally, here are some tips to keep in mind while solving crossword puzzles:

  • Every clue contains a definition of the answer, which can be found at the beginning or end of the clue, or even in the entire clue.
  • Look at the number of letters in the solution to help guide your thinking.
  • If there is an abbreviation in a clue, then most likely the answer will also be abbreviated.
  • A clue that is contained in quotes represents a word or phrase that is said in spoken language, not necessarily a direct definition.
  • Most crossword puzzles have a theme, and figuring out how the theme works is a major part of the solving process.

Finally, remember that solving crossword puzzles is a skill that can be developed and refined over time. By embracing “crosswordese” (common letters such as E, S, R, etc.), understanding letter frequency, and using external resources like dictionaries or the internet when needed, you can become a more efficient and confident solver. With a disciplined, structured approach and a willingness to learn from your mistakes, you’ll be tackling even the toughest clues in no time.

The Answer to ‘What a shock!’

The answer to the “What a shock!” crossword clue in the NYT Crossword is STUNNER. This particular clue last appeared in the NYT Crossword on January 28, 2024, as part of the larger puzzle for that day.

According to Rex Parker’s crossword answers, the solution to this clue was provided along with a comprehensive list of answers for the entire crossword puzzle on January 28, 2024. The clue itself was updated on January 27, 2024.

It’s worth noting that the NYT Crossword puzzles often feature clever wordplay and challenging clues, making the solving process an enjoyable and mentally stimulating experience for crossword enthusiasts. Encountering a clue like “What a shock!” and ultimately discovering the answer, STUNNER, can be a satisfying moment for solvers as they work their way through the puzzle.

The Role of Crossword Puzzles in Mental Exercise

Crossword puzzles offer a wide range of mental benefits that can positively impact cognitive function, memory, problem-solving skills, and overall brain health. Regularly solving crossword puzzles can:

  1. Improve vocabulary and language skills by exposing solvers to new words, idioms, puns, and analogies.
  2. Enhance cognitive functioning, including critical thinking, memory skills, and overall brain health.
    • Studies have shown that crossword puzzles can improve working memory, short-term memory, and executive function.
    • Participants in a study who did web-based crossword puzzles showed improvement in cognition and experienced less brain shrinkage compared to those who played web-based cognitive games.
  3. Strengthen neural connections and form new ones, contributing to a healthier brain.
    • Crossword puzzles engage multiple brain regions, stimulate new connections, and strengthen the hippocampus and cortex.

Solving crossword puzzles requires logical thinking, pattern recognition, and creative problem-solving, which can help improve problem-solving abilities in other areas of life. Additionally, crossword puzzles can provide stress relief, relaxation, and a valuable distraction from worries or stressors. Engaging in crossword puzzles with friends and family can foster social connections, improve quality of life, and lift spirits.

The New York Times (NYT) Crossword, a cultural icon and beloved pastime, offers puzzles with varying difficulty levels throughout the week. Features like the Mini crossword, Autocheck, and the Wordplay column help solvers build confidence, verify answers, and understand tricky clues. By regularly solving crossword puzzles, individuals can maintain cognition levels equivalent to someone 10 years younger and potentially lower the risk of cognitive decline, including conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.


The New York Times Crossword, particularly clues like “What a shock!”, offers a delightful and mentally stimulating experience for puzzle enthusiasts. By understanding the intricacies of solving tough clues and employing effective strategies, solvers can enhance their skills and derive immense satisfaction from the process. Moreover, engaging in crossword puzzles regularly provides a myriad of mental benefits, including improved cognitive function, memory, problem-solving abilities, and overall brain health.

As we navigate through life’s challenges, finding enjoyable activities that simultaneously exercise our minds is crucial. The NYT Crossword serves as a cultural icon and a beloved pastime that not only entertains but also contributes to maintaining a sharp and healthy brain. So, the next time you encounter a perplexing clue like “What a shock!”, embrace the challenge, and remember that with each solved puzzle, you are not only enjoying a moment of triumph but also investing in your cognitive well-being.

FAQs about “What a Shock!” NYT Crossword Clue

  1. What does “What a shock!” signify in the NYT crossword puzzle?

    • “What a shock!” is a clue in the NYT crossword puzzle indicating a word or phrase that represents surprise or astonishment.
  2. How often does “What a shock!” appear in NYT crossword puzzles?

    • The frequency of “What a shock!” as a clue varies, but it can appear periodically in NYT crossword puzzles.
  3. Is “What a shock!” typically a challenging clue to solve?

    • Depending on the context and surrounding clues, “What a shock!” can range from straightforward to more challenging for solvers.
  4. What are some possible answers to the clue “What a shock!”?

    • Possible answers may include words like STUNNER, JOLT, or SURPRISE, among others, depending on the puzzle’s theme and grid.
  5. Are there specific solving strategies for deciphering “What a shock!” clues?

    • Solvers can employ various techniques such as considering synonyms, analyzing letter patterns, and exploring word associations to unravel “What a shock!” clues effectively.
  6. Can I find past instances of “What a shock!” clues and their solutions?

    • Yes, past instances of “What a shock!” clues and their corresponding solutions can often be found in crossword puzzle archives and solving communities.
  7. Are there any tips for approaching “What a shock!” clues as a beginner solver?

    • Beginners can start by looking for common themes and patterns in NYT crossword puzzles and gradually develop their solving skills through practice and exposure to different clue types.
  8. Are there online resources for assistance with “What a shock!” clues?

    • Yes, online crossword-solving communities and websites often provide hints, tips, and discussions related to solving specific clues, including “What a shock!”
  9. How can I recognize when “What a shock!” is being used as wordplay in a clue?

    • Awareness of wordplay techniques such as puns, double meanings, and cryptic clues can help solvers identify when “What a shock!” is employed creatively in a crossword clue.
  10. Where can I seek help if I’m stuck on a “What a shock!” clue?

    • Solvers can consult crossword-solving forums, ask fellow enthusiasts for assistance, or utilize crossword puzzle-solving apps and tools for hints and guidance.

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