23,675 – tricky

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time : 29:59

I found this very difficult, mainly because I was slow on all the long clues. 11D took ages, and left with 15A, I decided I had to finish within 30 minutes and chose BUSINESS as my best guess. (Well it means “outfit” and it’s better than JUNIPERS, PUNINESS or QUAILERS.) But I don’t get it, and hope that someone will explain it or tell me the correct answer.

Nor have I been able to work out how 4D (THRIFT) works, though at least I am confident that it is right.

Explanations for BUSINESS and THRIFT now added following comments below


1 CA(R I)CATURE – ie R and I in (ACCURATE)*
6 D(A)UB
9 AUDIT + O + R(I)UM
10 (r)AVER
14 RA(rev) + DOUR
15 BUSINESS – Two meanings – “baby” in the sense of “pet project” – thanks to Peter
26 (r)ELAY(rev)


1 COAX – two meanings. I think I have seen something rather similar recently
2 RE(DUC(t))ED
3 C(AT A MOUNT)AIN – never heard of it, but with crossing letters and wordplay, more accessible than much of this crossword
4 THRIFT – Two meanings, the second being: Thrift, also known as sea pink, grows on cliffs by the sea – Thanks to Conrad
5 ROUGH (=rocky) CUT (=score)
11 DELIBE(s) + RATION – took me ages, mainly considering CON then DEN for “study”. And Delibes is not one of the first ten composers I think of
13 HANKY-PANKY – is it just that the two parts rhyme? If so, what is the word “dirty” for?
20 INCENSE (=”inn sense”) – straightforward, for this puzzle, but does it work perfectly? “Inn sense” is no sort of phrase, so would you not expect two homophone indicators?

19 comments on “23,675 – tricky”

  1. A tough one for me. On first look, got all the way to 24 before writing in an across answer. But then got all the bottom four acrosses and worked upwards, finishing off with 1A/D. ‘Face home truths’ = ‘scum of the earth’ was a good find. Time – 14:16
    1. Forgot to add below that I thought ‘Face home truths’ <=> ‘scum of the earth’ was absolutely brilliant.
  2. A real nightmare for me! After 3 minutes of blank staring I didn’t have a single answer, and only had 6 after ten minutes. 37:34 in the end, last one to go in was 11d.
  3. Best I can offer on BUSINESS is 2 mngs – the second being baby = project/affair = business, though this seems a bit of a stretch and suggests we might get “Baby pigeon” one day as another double def for the same word (maybe we’ve had it already…). 13: ‘dirty’ is a bit puzzling, though it probably helped me a bit. I wonder whether it started as ‘manky’ and got changed.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve come across CATAMOUNTAIN somewhere in xwd solving. A puzzle: the dictionaries all say that catamount means the same thing. None of them mention the “equivalent” usage I’ve seen for ‘catamount’, as in “voting Bush back into office is catamount to inviting more violence against innocent American citizens”. Is this just an obscure or erroneous usage?

    1. …as opposed to tantamount?
      I failed to get 19a, which wasn’t listed above. I’m probably being obtuse.
    1. I think both “keep” and “living” can mean something like “enough money to live on”, though perhaps it is a bit approximate. And “time” can mean “life” as in “If I have my time again”.
  4. What was 19A? I had so many half-explained clues today I thought this might be another one so I bunged in RAVINE. You’ll have gathered I didn’t get DELIBERATION though I had the RATION bit.

    1. DEFILE – another cratfy double def, though I suspect I’ve this or very similar before.
      1. I spent the best part of 10 minutes at the end on DEFILE, not knowing the ‘gorge’ meaning and wondering about ‘bemire’ for ‘soil’ – and I’d already nearly written in ‘ravine’ from ???I?E, having struggled badly on BUSINESS and DELIBERATION. Probably 20-ish but for those 3 (and the ‘cut’ of ROUGH CUT), 32:30 total.

        Did anyone else nearly fall for ‘niqabs’ at 21dn?

  5. I found this pretty tough as well (18:42). Strangely the clue that gave me most trouble was 12A, even though I was almost certain that it had to be an anagram of “face home truths” – I suppose because the better the original, the harder it is to see the anagram.
  6. Nobody I think has said what a brilliant clue this is (Smear name with cutting article). So elegant and economical.
  7. I commented earlier in the week that I prefer the tougher puzzles. Well – thanks very much! I consider having finished this in 55 minutes over 3 sessions a major success. Catamountain and hijabs unknown, oblational an eventual guess.Difficult but fair and very enjoyable.
  8. Wow – what an epic. As I dip in and out of x-words whilst relaxing I don’t have an accurate time spent solving. This one lasted on-and-off from a Monday evening to the Wednesday morning but getting a correct solution in the end was worth every moment spent.

    Some of the “easies” left out of the blog are discussed above but here they are in full:

    6a Smear name with cutting article (4)
    D A UB. This one is in the blog but not fully explained. For the bunnies it is DUB = name with A being the cutting article. Took me ages to see this – just biffed DAUB from Smear at the time.

    12a (Face home truths)* after review is rubbish (4,2,3,5)
    SCUM OF THE EARTH. Possibly the best disguised anagram I have seen!

    17a Living life – as rhythm section in jazz band must do (4,4)
    KEEP TIME. Maybe keep as in “earn ones keep” = “earn a living” and “time” = “prison sentence” could be = “life”?

    19a Soil found in gorge (6)
    DEFILE. Double definition the verb “to soil” = defile and defile is another name for a gorge or ravine – the latter word would have fitted until I got Delibes losing his son at 11d.

    24a Number over twelve (4)
    NO ON

    16d Open area used by guys getting fit (8)

    18d Run with wretched (mobile)* ringing and catch up (7)

    23d Good word for stop up (4)
    PLUG. Double definition – to put in a good word for = PLUG as in advertise and to stop up a basin or bath = PLUG?

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