A Club, or a Spice NYT: The Mystery of the Crossword Clue

What is the clue about?

If you are a fan of crossword puzzles, you might have come across this clue in the New York Times Mini Crossword on November 11, 2022: “A club, or a spice”. The answer is four letters long and starts with M. Do you know what it is?

The clue is a clever example of a word that has more than one meaning, depending on the context. A club can be a weapon, a group of people, or a place to dance. A spice can be a flavor, a variety, or a zest. The word that fits both definitions is MACE.

What is mace as a club?

Mace as a club is a type of blunt weapon that has a heavy head, usually made of metal, attached to a handle. The head often has spikes, flanges, or knobs to inflict more damage. Mace as a club was used in ancient and medieval times as a weapon of war, especially against armored opponents. Mace as a club is also a symbol of authority and dignity, often carried by ceremonial guards or officials.

What is mace as a spice?

Mace as a spice is a fragrant spice that comes from the same plant as nutmeg, the Myristica fragrans tree. Mace as a spice is the outer covering of the nutmeg seed, called the aril. It has a reddish-orange color and a delicate, sweet, and warm flavor. Mace as a spice is used in both savory and sweet dishes, such as pies, cakes, soups, stews, curries, and sauces.

Why is the clue interesting?

The clue is interesting because it plays with the ambiguity of language and the multiple meanings of words. It also challenges the solver to think of a word that can fit both categories, which is not very common. The clue is also a bit tricky, because mace as a spice is not as well-known as nutmeg, and mace as a club is not a very common word in modern times. The clue is a good example of how crossword puzzles can test your vocabulary, knowledge, and creativity.