ESE is often the answer to the crossword clue
[Language suffix] or [Legal conclusion?]

ESE crossword ESE SSE clue answer secondary intercardinal directions answer suffix language that spanish
After ENE, the answers ESE and SSE are the most popular secondary intercardinal directions in crossword puzzles. ESE direction clue crossword answer suffix language that spanis

Puzzles have three ways to direct solvers to the odd-looking answer ESE. Ranked from the easiest and most frequent to most difficult and uncommon, they are:

  1. as the acronym “E.S.E.,” the [Compass point] that’s [Opposite WNW]
  2. as the [Jargon suffix] “-ese,” which is often seen as a [Language ending]
  3. as the Spanish word “ese,” meaning [That, in Toledo]

As the third sense is exceedingly rare in puzzles–and, frankly, less prone to interesting clues–let’s take a look at the first two of these ways a solver sees ESE.

1. ESE: Crossword puzzles’ second-most popular secondary intercardinal answer

ESE crossword answer clue meaning point suffix language direction
Image credit: Crosswordese

Of all the ways ESE can appear, the easiest is directions call for a [U-turn from WNW]. But as the specific direction that’s [112.5° on a compass: Abbr.], ESE can become a geography quiz. Examples stretch from the obvious to those will be lost on most solvers

  • [Wyoming-to-Missouri dir.]
  • [Cornell-to-Yale dir.]
  • [L.A.-to-Tucson dir.]
  • [Atlanta-Augusta dir.]
  • [Butte-to-Bozeman dir.]
  • [Liverpool-to-Nottingham dir.]

[Direction from Belg. to Bulg.]

Peter Gordon, New York Times, November 10, 2019

Between the four cardinal directions–north, east, south, west–are four intercardinal, or intermediate, directions: NE, SE, SW, and NW. Between these cardinal and intercardinal directions are the eight secondary intercardinal directions: NNE, ENE, ESE, SSE, SSW, WSW, WNW, and NNW. Any of the octet can answer common clues like

  • [Compass point]
  • [Wind dir]
  • [Vane dir.]
  • [Needle point?]

Whiles those clues seem to make the answer a crap-shoot, solvers can still hedge a bit by playing the odds. Of the 55 times that one of the eight was an answer in a New York Times puzzle over the last two years, 38% of the time the answer was ENE, and another 40% of the time it was either ESE, or SSE. (See image at top of page.)

Here’s how it breaks down:


The data doesn’t seem to suggest that solvers should guess ENE–solvers would be wrong 62% of the time.

But it does suggest it’s pretty safe to put an E in the third box: that’ll be right about 93% of the time.

And if you consider that the odds that the middle letter is N are about 57%, and the odds that the first letter is an E is about 58%, then it may make sense to go ahead and at least lightly pencil in ENE as you eenie-meenie-minie-mo choise.

[B.C.-to-D.C. direction]

Karen M. Tracey, NY Sun – Sept. 11, 2008

2. ESE: An essential part of crosswordese

As the [Language suffix] or [Nationality suffix], ESE arrives as

[An end to jargon?

David Steinberg, New York Times – November 2, 2018

[Ian’s relative?]

Robyn Weintraub, New York Times – June 26, 2020
  • [Suffix with Japan]
  • [Suffix with Canton]
  • [Siam suffix]
  • [Language finish]
  • [Legal attachment?]
  • [Legal addendum?]
  • Legal conclusion]
  • [Tip of a tongue?]
  • [Legal conclusion?]
  • [-speak]
  • [Bern or Burm ender]
  • [Brooklyn suffix]–though this clue could also the lead-in to the crosswordese ITE

ESE is also an [Ending with computer or crossword]. In the clue’s second sense, it could be said that ESE could legitimately be called “crossword’s suffix.”

Curiously, as solvers move from the top-left to the bottom-right of a puzzle grid, at times they’ll move in an ESE direction as they move toward the [Crossword’s conclusion].

ESE crossword direction clue  answer suffix language that spanish
image credit: Crosswordese