WEN is often the answer to the crossword clue
[Cyst] or [___ Jiabao, 2003-13 premier of China]
WEN is another word for the [Benign growth], or [Cyst]. I’ll save you photos, but there are images and info on this Wikipedia page.)
Unlike “CYST” [Dermatologist’s concern], which tends to show up fairly often in many papers’ crosswords, WEN is considered a bit too unsightly for most puzzles.
For instance, the last time a New York Times puzzle used WEN as an answer was 2017–when in fact it showed up as [___ Jiabao, 2003-13 premier of China].
In the meantime, CYST showed up 10 times, including six appearances in 2020.
The Wall Street Journal also eschews WEN: there, too, it’s only showed up once since 2017.
Yet over the same period, WEN has shown up in four Universal puzzles and eight The Los Angeles Times crosswords. Perhaps there are just more dermatologists in L.A., or more people concerned about their skin, or more skin problems.
Speaking of cities, I suppose if one insisted on cluing WEN as a cyst, perhaps the most preferable is to do so indirectly, via one of London’s less lovely nicknames: “The Great Wen.”
Clues like [Crowded city, to the English] and [Crowded city, to the English] aren’t easy, and the blight they suggest is more malignant an eyesore than a [Benign growth]. But at least they’re more poetic.
Somewhat surprisingly, as far as I can tell WEN has never been clued as the name of the old hair care product everyone seemed to be so wild about a decade ago. If memory serves, Wen was pretty pricey, but someone gave me a bottle of the conditioner and it seemed all right. (Though I went back to DOVE [Went off the deep end?]). But it seems not everyone had a pleasant experience with Wen:
Perhaps the least bad way to clue WEN is as the [Old English rune, replaced by w], even if the name of the [Runic double-u] is more often spelled wynn or wyn.
Having an alternate spelling of a word as an answer in a puzzle is never pretty, let alone when it’s the name of an ancient rune. But considering how unattractive the other options are,
Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia entry:
The letter “W”
While the earliest Old English texts represent this phoneme with the digraph ⟨uu⟩, scribes soon borrowed the rune wynn ᚹ for this purpose. It remained a standard letter throughout the Anglo-Saxon era, eventually falling out of use (perhaps under the influence of French orthography) during the Middle English period, circa 1300. It was replaced with ⟨uu⟩ once again, from which the modern developed.