A personal take on the best dozen Times crossword clues from the last 5 years
Part seven of a -part series of blogs

Posted by Andy Brown on 11 December 2017

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7th position (from puzzle 25442)

Probably the finest (and most-quoted) clues are simple misleading definitions, such as the clue in 7th position in my list:

Met expectations (7,8)

It's obvious what this means, surely?  It must be referring to the phrase "meet one's expectations", and Met must be being used as a verb?

The trick is to think laterally: what else could the words mean?  In this case Met has cleverly been positioned at the start of the clue, to disguise it's initial capital letter.  It could refer to the Metropolitan Police, or (as here) to the Meteorological Office (referred to even on their website as the Met).

And what are the expectations of the Met?  The WEATHER FORECAST, of course.

Here are three other misleading definitions for you to ponder:

Number Puzzle Clue
1 26082 He and I get into such rows! (8,5)
2 26106 Yes-man in the majority in Congress? (10,5)
3 26295 PIN number? (4,3)
4 4743 Have its combatants thrown down weapons? (6,5)

Many of the words are used in unexpected ways in these clues.  Here's an explanation of each clue:

Number Explanation
1 He is the chemical symbol for Helium, and I for Iodine.  You're probably pronouncing ROWS the wrong way.
2 It's sexual congress being referred to here, not anything political, and "in the majority" can mean above the age of consent.
3 A leg is called a pin in slang ("nice pins"), and a number is, here, something which numbs.
4 The combatants aren't throwing their weapons down, they're throwing weapons made of down.

This gives us the answers:

  1. PERIODIC TABLE
  2. CONSENTING ADULT
  3. DEAD LEG
  4. PILLOW FIGHT

All very ingenious!

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