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Finding beauty in (and explaining) cryptic crossword clues
Part four of a nine-part series of blogs

Cryptic crossword clues can be ingenious and witty, as this blog tries to explain. The blog tries to convey this owl's passion for the genre, but also to give a mini-tutorial on how cryptic crosswords clues are constructed.

  1. Finding beauty in (and explaining) cryptic crossword clues
  2. Anagrams
  3. Construction clues
  4. Cryptic definitions (this blog)
  5. Double meaning clues
  6. Lit clues
  7. Hidden clues
  8. Soundalike clues
  9. The overall winner

Posted by Andy Brown on 26 May 2020

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Cryptic definitions

The simplest type of cryptic crossword clue is the one which gives a definition of a word or phrase, in a misleading way.  Here are 3 famous examples (well, famous if you are a crossword fanatic):

Clue Answer
Die of cold? Ice cube (using die as the singular of dice, to represent a cubic object)
The cylinder is jammed Swiss roll (obvious, when you know the answer)
Weapon that quickens the pulse Pea-shooter (a pea is a type of pulse)

Most crossword aficionados' favourite clues would be cryptic definitions, I suspect, even though they are one of the least common type of clue.

Now you've got the idea, here are my favourite cryptic definition clues from the last 30 months of Times cryptic crosswords.  I don't think you'LL need help deciphering these, so I've just given the clue, the answer and a tiny hint.

Clue Answer Hint
Born bully? Taurean Ie born under the sign of Taurus
Script read with feeling (7) Braille It is indeed!
Park surrounded by water (4,6) Drop anchor So Park is a verb, not a noun

The Winner: Zip code

The winning clue in this category is this one:

Concluding part of Gettysburg address? (3,4)

Everything about this clue makes you think of Abraham Lincoln speaking to the Unionist forces.  But any address in Gettysburg is likely to end in a zip code, just as an address in (say) Grantham would end in a postcode! 

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