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Finding beauty in (and explaining) cryptic crossword clues
Part seven 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
  5. Double meaning clues
  6. Lit clues
  7. Hidden clues (this blog)
  8. Soundalike clues
  9. The overall winner

Posted by Andy Brown on 26 May 2020

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Hidden clues

These are probably the simplest clues to understand, but perversely they can also be the hardest to solve.  Here's an example:

Type that exasperates, somewhat (3,4)

This is also an &Lit clue, as it happens, since the clue is both the wordplay and the definition.

OK, let's look at the clue again:

TyPE THAT Exasperates, somewhat (3,4)

So if you take some of the letters in order in Type that exasperates you get the answer (pet hate).

That one was from puzzle 27366 on Saturday 1st June 2019.  Here are some more gems, ending with my winner in this category (I've put the definition in blue and the hidden letters in red).


The clue for this one is:

Some open it with a jerk! (6)

Notice that there must be some indicator to show that you're not taking all of the letters (in this case the word Some).


The clue here was:

Had spiced up editorial content (5)

A beautifully smooth surface reading summons up the image of someone making a newspaper a bit racier, and the definition (had as in conned) is well hidden.  I also like the use of the word content to indicate you should take the content of the three preceding words.

Litmus test

The winner is this clue (also, again, an &Lit clue too as it happens):

What's contained in chemical it must establish? (6,4)

Who would have imagined that you could describe a Litmus test so well by hiding its letters in sequential order in a sentence? 

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