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Cryptic Crosswords

How many of you out there are interested in cryptic crosswords?

I am sure most of you must have seen those grids of white and black boxes in the newspapers.

There are two types of puzzles - cryptic and straightforward. And, there are two types of grids - American and British. British grids are more pleasing to the eye, as they have a beautiful symmetricity to them. Most British grids are cryptic in nature. I am a big fan of cryptic crosswords of the British grid variety.

Cryptic crosswords enhance your vocabulary and also your out of the box thinking capability.

In my next post, I will post some sample clues, and then you can decide for yourself as to whether you want to get interested in this hobby, if you already are not addicted to it! Very Happy
Cryptic crossword clues are usually made up of two segment. Each clue has a direct part (which is also termed as the required definition) and a cryptic part (which is the word play). In this post, I will analyze the different types of word play usually used in cryptic clues.


Anagrams refer to the letters of a word being jumbled up. The solution length and the clue words would in all probability make the anagram fodder (meaning, the words which need to be jumbled up) and the anagram indicator obvious.


See grim possibility for those leaving the country (7) EMIGRES

See grim: Anagram fodder
possibility: Anagram indicator
for: Connector
those leaving the country: Required definition

Cryptic Definitions

These are also termed 'click' type clues, where the clue wording is straightforward, but calls for 'out of the box' thinking!


They ignore national customs (9) SMUGGLERS

Here, customs should be interpreted as the tax imposed on imported goods by a country, and not the culture and practices of a nation. This is where 'out of the box' thinking comes into the picture.

Double Definitions

These are clues with double-barreled meanings, but usually no cryptic construction.


Game to make a connection (3) TIE [2]

Game: Definition 1
to make a connection: Definition 2


These are clues whose solutions are composed of two or more words clued separately.


Night filer on staff (5) BAT ON

Night flier: BAT
on : ON
staff: Required definition (A baton is a type of staff)

Embedded Construction / Container Type Clues

These are clues which require the placement of a letter or word inside another word or set of letters to get the answers.


Crazy lot of seamen within limits of sobriety (6) S{CREW}Y

Crazy: Required definition
lot of seamen: CREW
within: Container indication
limits of sobriety: S Y

To be continued...

These are clues in which a portion of the wordings lead to one solution, while other portions lead to a different solution which is pronounced similar to the first one.


Tool that provides more hearing (4) ADZE {~adds}

Tool: Required definition
that: Connector
provides more: Adds
hearing: Homonym indication, indicating that the previous word must be 'misspelled'.

Hidden / Telescopic Clues

These are clues in which the solution is contained directly within a word or a phrase in the clue.


Second person to carry out insider (3) YOU [T]

Second person: Required definition
to: Connector
carry out: Telescopic fodder
insider: Telescopic indication


These are clues to which the solution is a word that is backwards - either by being hidden backwards in some other word or by being another word indicated by another part of the clue.


Backwards - Therefore, a monster! (4) OGRE <-

Backwards: Reversal indicator
Therefore: Synonym is Ergo: Reversal fodder
a monster: Required definition


In this type of clue, a letter (or sometimes a group of letters) is deleted from a word to yield the solution.


What the fellow owns is right out of the past (3) HIS{-TORY}

What the fellow owns: Required definition
is: Connector
right: TORY (English party with right political leanings)
out: Deletion indication
of: Connector
the past: Synonym is History: Deletion fodder

Special Indicators

A number of words in cryptic crosswords often - but not always, have special significance, and these inferred letters are annotated within curly braces as {Inferred Letters}.


Bird embracing one lover (5) SWA{I}N

Bird: SWAN
embracing: Container indication
one: I (Roman numeral one)
lover: Required definition: SWAIN


Most clues in cryptic crosswords are a combination of the above types.

Example: Special Indicator + Anagram

Hangs around the Left when Tories are in disarray (7) {L}OITERS*

Example: Reversal + Charades

If returning calls on college ground they'll make a killing (6,5) FI<- RING S QUAD

To be continued...
Miscellaneous Clue Types are summarized below. They are very rare in cryptic crosswords. You might encounter one clue of the type below, in, say, 50 clues:


A letter in a given word is replaced with another letter to create the solution. Annotation wise, these are indicated as follows: {-Letter to Replace}{Replacing Letter}


Nobleman exchanging 500 for 5 in discount (Cool {-D}{V}ISCOUNT

Nobleman: Required definition: VISCOUNT
exchanging 500 for 5: Replace D with V (Roman numeral 500 is D and 5 is V)
in: Connector
Discount: Substitution fodder

Selected Letters

Certain combination of letters from the wordings of the clue are selected to determine the solution.


Tosses for letters in postal stations, initially (5) F L I P S

Tosses: Required definition
for letters in postal stations: Selected letters fodder
initially: Selected letters indicator

& Lit Clues

Any cryptic clue will have a “straight” definition as well as a tricky subsidiary to guide the solver to the clue answer. Sometimes the entire clue is both the definition and the wordplay. This is annotated with the original wordplay annotation indicator, followed by &.


Terribly evil! (4) VILE*&

Terribly: Anagram indicator
evil: Anagram fodder
Terribly evil: Required definition

God incarnate, essentially! (4) ODIN [T]&

God incarnate: Telescopic fodder
essentially: Telescopic indication
ODIN is an incarnation of god in Norse mythology, so, he is essentially God, incarnate, and the whole clue becomes the required definition!
Guys, if any of you are interested, we can start a clue writing thread here, where people can frame clues and other members can try to answer the clue and classify it according to the categories mentioned in the posts above!

If anybody is interested, I will put in a clue that I framed in the next post, so that someone can attempt to crack it.

Looking forward to having some fun here!
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