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(Re: 14 Across) alpha: NOUN 1. The first letter of the Greek alphabet. It is represented in the English alphabet as "a". 2. The beginning of a series or sequence. ADJECTIVE 1. First testing stage of a software or hardware product or an upgrade of an existing product. Similar words: explorative, exploratory. 2. First in order of importance. Similar word: important. PROPER NOUN Alpha The main star in a constellation. Alpha as a proper noun is also used as the radio code word for the letter "A".
(Re: 20 Across) Charles Dickens novel Bleak House was first published as a monthly serial beginning in March 1852. The character referred to in the clue for 20 Across, Inspector Bucket, was one of the first fictional detectives created in English literature. This novel has dozens of both major and minor characters and is considered a "classic."
(Re: 24 Across) sennet: NOUN A trumpet call in Elizabethan theater than announces the entrances and exits of actors. The word is thought to entered English usage language as an alteration of the word "signal," which derives from the Latin signum meaning "mark" or "sign."
(Re: 46 Across) Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city in what is now southern Peru. In the Quechua language, Machu Picchu means "old peak." Sitting high atop a mountain ridge, the site of the ruined city is today considered an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
All the crosswords linked to below have general knowledge clues encompassing a variety of subject areas.
Easy Crosswords for Beginners: Links to Puzzles #001 through #100
Easy Crosswords Level 1: Links to Puzzles #101 through #200
Easy Crosswords Level 2: Links to puzzles #201 through ongoing; similar difficulty to the puzzle offered above.