28966 You might not catch a lot of these.


I did this in 16.23, which indicates that for me it wasn’t too tricky, but I was aware going through that there were words on the fringes of common vocabulary that might cause issues for some. One oddity, especially in the first few clues, was that quite a lot of the required components were in plain sight and didn’t require translating. Another is that we have two clues where the definitions themselves are cryptic, and a meaner setter might have presented them without accompanying wordplay.

Definitions underlined in italics, [] indicates deleted or excluded letters, otherwise all open to interpretation.

1 Is sign of hesitation about position leading to confrontation? (10)
RESISTANCE – IS plus ER as sign of hesitation reversed (about) plus STANCE for position
6 A page gone over for homework (4)
PREP – Roughly 50% of the time these days A cryptically leads to PER, as here. Add P[age] and reverse (gone over) for the stuff you prepare at home for the dog to eat before not presenting it at school.
9 Flair shown by the old man capturing an iconic fighter (7)
PANACHE – Old man is PA, insert AN and add CHE, more elegantly than usual presented as an iconic fighter.
10 Insignificant number getting married in a cathedral ultimately? (7)
NOMINAL – NO for number plus M[arried] IN A {cathedra]L last letter.
12 Most formal mega-performer, I boxed (10)
STARCHIEST – A mega-performer is a STAR. I boxed produces I in a CHEST.
13 First person said to be tiny (3)
WEE – First person plural or royal is WE, which sounds like our answer when said. We are for once spared micturition.
15 Get fine and quarrel, say, for creating litter? (6)
FARROW – F[ine] plus ARROW, one definition of a quarrel. Farrowing is what sows do producing piglets.
16 Something big in the drink — a drink swallowed by idiot (8)
CACHALOT – A cryptic definition for a large sea beast, in this case a sperm whale. A CHA (cup of tea, definitely a drink) within CLOT for idiot.
18 Perhaps sinner and saint going out — they often meet in the dark (8)
CURTAINS – Another cryptic definition for which a CUR, rather loosely a sinner, and an anagram (going out) of SAINT provide the wordplay.
20 One small female in here represented? (6)
HEIFER – I have this down as an &lit: a heifer is a young cow, and I (one) F[emale] in an anagram (represented) of HERE provides the construction.
23 Head dismissing learner as fool (3)
OAF – A LOAF is slang for a head, from which your remove the L[earner]
24 Being unrealistic about claims made by trader and performer? (10)
IDEALISING – So a trader says I DEAL and a performer says I SING.
26 Name in past given to soldiers, eg, The Great(7)
AGNOMEN – The additional name given to certain people to indicate their character or excellence: here, for example, Alfred, Peter or Catherine. N[ame] in AGO from past plus MEN for soldiers.
27 Like some leaves — last bits of the autumn put in box (7)
CRENATE – Such leaves have more or less scalloped edges. Last letters of [th]E [autum]N placed inside another box, this time a CRATE
28 Flower carried by glamorous entertainer (4)
OUSEThat sort of flower hidden in glamorOUS Entertainer.
29 Crane has wing half visible, one in French river (10)
DEMOISELLE – Is it a bird? Is it a fish? Is it an insect? it’s…a bird. I assume wing is SIDE, half gone, then it’s I (one) in MOSELLE, the French river.
1 It’s reportedly packaged and sent (4)
RAPT – Sounds like (reportedly) wrapped
2 Politician beginning to speak with queen about international organisation (7)
SENATOR – Topically the international organisation is NATO, within S[peak] and ER for our late Queen.
3 Sad moralist upset about church putting priests on a pedestal? (13)
SACERDOTALISM – A word you may know without knowing its meaning. One Chambers definition is “the attribution to a priesthood of special or supernatural powers” which will do for us. An anagram (upset) of SAD MORALIST plus CE for Church (of England)
4 Supply help as leading characters (6)
ALEPHS – An anagram (supply) of HELP AS for the first of the Hebrew characters.
5 Start of Christmas with trading opportunity on the up for light units (8)
CANDELAS – Start of C[hristmas] and AND (with) and SALE for trading opportunity reversed (on the up).
7 What’s authentic about modern library facility? (7)
RENEWAL – You can renew your borrowing of a library book to avoid a fine. Authentic gives REAL, insert NEW for modern.
8 Bill’s solution penetrates synthetic materials (10)
POLYESTERS – LYE as a solution (of sodium hydroxide, for example) within POSTERS for bills.
11 Unquestioned supremacy not a condition to set the world alight? (13)
MATCHLESSNESS – So if you’re matchless you can’t set the world, or anything else, alight.
14 Follower’s ace lie — time to go before fuss (10)
AFICIONADO – Which I had last time I blogged. This time it’s A[ce] plus FICTION for lie, without its T[ime] plus a ADO for fuss.
17 Prisoner terribly inert, with deprivation no end (8)
INTERNEE – An anagram (terribly) of INERT plus NEED for deprivation with its D deleted.
19 Makes good wines — merriment in store (7)
REFUNDS – Wines are REDS, into which you put FUN for merriment. In store is just the inclusion indicator.
21 Bird enthusiast wanting story heard (7)
FANTAIL – A FAN is an enthusiast (or an aficionado). Add TAIL which sounds like (reported) TALE for story.
22 Fury a reader fails to finish (6)
ALECTO – The classic Furies are Tisiphone, Alecto and Megaera. Ours is created when a reader, A LECTOR fails to finish.
25 One of the old people, this writer, requiring editor’s intervention (4)
MEDE – Iranian in 7th century BC. ME who is (am?) this writer with ED[itor] included.

64 comments on “28966 You might not catch a lot of these.”

  1. 45 minutes. I found this entertaining but quite tricky in places. MEDE and ALEPHS were half-remembered but my unknowns were:
    CACHELOT – two appearances in 2018 which passed without comment from me
    and one in 2013 when I said I didn’t know it.
    AGNOMEN – also not known in 2018 and 2020, but on its first appearance in 2014 it passed without comment from me.
    CRENATE – making its debut today.

  2. I found this very hard and took 41 minutes! Several words I didn‘t know (CRENATE, CACHALOT) but they were all gettable from the clue, which I think is important when obscure vocab is used. LOI was DEMOISELLE which was also new to me in this meaning. But despite my slow time today I did enjoy this puzzle a lot. Will look by again later to see how others got on 🙂
    Thanks setter and Zabadak

  3. 50 minutes. I think I’d have taken longer if I hadn’t done yesterday’s Enigmatist in the Guardian, which would warm you up for anything, really. Grateful to the tall ship Kaskelot that used to hang around in Bristol before being renamed Le Français , apparently. Had to trust the wordplay with a few, though at least I knew “palmate” which made CRENATE seem more likely, and I’m fairly sure I picked up FARROWing and HEIFER from The Archers.

    1. Will attempt Henderson’s Guardian effort on the flight to Bergen. A week or so ago I finished a Henderson for only perhaps the fifth time when I tackled a recent Telegraph Toughie Elgar. I was so happy I told the wife. She looked bemused.

  4. Around 60 minutes. Very enjoyable. Caught out a bit by the NE corner with PREP and WEE. Thought only of EVE but not small. Thought of WEE early on but took ages to realise WE was first person plural. Liked the clever devious definitions particularly 16A and 18A. Luckily I had heard of the difficult words.

  5. Unfortunately I did NOT know many of the difficult words, like ALEPHS, MEDE, CACHALOT, CRENATE, ALECTO and DEMOISELLE, and gave it away at 43 with the last two unsolved. Props to Z for explaining PREP, SENATOR and POLYESTER. A tough but enjoyable puzzle, I feel I was beaten in a fair fight.

    From Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again:
    Now the SENATOR came down here
    Showing everyone his gun
    Handing out free tickets
    To the wedding of his son
    And me, I nearly got busted
    And wouldn’t it be my luck
    To get caught without a ticket
    And be discovered beneath a truck

    1. Me with my belt
      RAPT around my head
      And you just sittin’ there
      In your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

  6. 9.55 (with vaguely-remembered ALECTO, SACERDOTALISM and ALEPHS, and guesses at CRENATE and CACHALOT).
    One recalls, does one not, George S. Kaufman’s remark (sometimes attributed to other members of the Algonquin Round Table) “One man’s MEDE is another man’s Persian”.

  7. Hardly matters but wondering if the anagrind ‘represented’ in 20ac should be interpreted as ‘re-presented’

    1. Yes, I think that’s a common conceit of that anagram indicator: you’re meant to read it as re-presentation regardless of the absence of a hyphen.

  8. 22:13. I was surprised to see this puzzle had a fairly average SNITCH rating as I found it quite tough. Indeed I wasn’t confident on submitting, largely due to the unfamiliar vocab – CRENATE, CACHALOT, MEDE, ALECTO, SACERDOTALISM. Mind you, I didn’t help myself by carelessly throwing in ALPHAS in place of ALEPHS and taking some time to see my mistake.
    I particularly liked the “sinner and saint” of 18A – very nice spot by the setter.

  9. 22:40. Like Pootle, I found this tricky throughout, with several words on the very fringe of my vocabulary if not beyond. CACHALOT, MEDE, AGNOMEN and DEMOISELLE were constructed purely from wordplay, although I suspect I’ve come across the crane before. ALECTO and CRENATE very vaguely known, the latter I think via ‘crenellate’. I’ve never heard of SACERDOTALISM, and I was grateful for it not being a pure anagram, which removed any doubt about the order of the letters at the end. An enjoyable tussle.

    Thanks both.

  10. 48 minutes with LOI DEMOISELLE which in all truth I thought was a hoverfly. I’d just managed to construct CRENATE and ALECTO but I might have known the former. Prior to that, I’d spent ten minutes stuck in Mobile wondering what the price was I’d have to pay to get out of going through this twice, to paraphrase the last verse of Lindsay’s offering. I enjoyed this but in a masochistic sort of way. Thank you Z and setter.

  11. 59m 06s
    Goodness me, there were some unusual words today. ALEPHS, CACHALOT, AGNOMEN, CRENATE and SACERDOTALISM were all unknown to me.
    But I did know ALECTO.
    Mention of The Furies makes me smile. In a very much non-academic book on Greek and Roman myths that I have, they are described as “…serious young women in black mourning clothes, although when on a case they change into short maiden dresses with knee-high hunting boots and armed with whips”!
    I like the sound of them!

  12. A nice challenge, taking me just under 30 minutes, with CACHALOT and AGNOMEN unknown but worked out from wordplay, the rest of the tricky ones dredged up from somewhere. RAPT my FOI was good. Not sure about CUR to mean sinner though. Thanks Z.

  13. 19:29. Entertaining puzzle. I hesitated at the end over the unknowns CACHALOT, ALECTO and CRENATE, but the wordplay left little room for anything else. I wasn’t aware that DEMOISELLE, as well as being a name for a damselfly is also a type of crane (and a fish and a tiger-shark). SACERDOTALISM and AGNOMEN were dredged from memory but I couldn’t have told you what either of them meant… but I can now. Very educational today. Thanks Z and setter.

  14. 17’42”, pleased to be accurate after the nho ALECTO, also CRENATE. Failed once more to know how to spell AFICIONADO, had to wait for all the crossers and parsing.

    SACERDOTALISM took a while too, until I remembered the Latin (thanks Duolingo).

    Thanks jack and setter.

  15. 15:18. FARROW, CACHALOT, AGNOMEN, CRENATE, DEMOISELLE, SACERDOTALISM, ALPEHS, CANDELAS, ALECTO, MEDE… is this setter on a one-person crusade to put inexperienced solvers off for life? Not to mention PREP to give an added sense that these things are not for the likes of you.
    There’s a place for this sort of thing but in the daily puzzle it’s a bit much.

    1. Something similar crossed my mind. Is someone playing tricks with us?

      Went to Medlar last night. Excellent, if half empty on account of the football.

  16. Im with you on this matter. It certainly seems sometimes that the setter is using the first dictionary off the original caxton press in 1476!
    I usually do well with the cryptic but one glance today and i decided to give it a wide berth. So many obscurities my head was spinning!

    1. Can’t say I agree myself. One crossword per day is enough, and this is the one for me. An occasional taste of obscurity like this, therefore, doesn’t go amiss.

  17. “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no SENATOR’S son” (Creedence Clearwater Revival : “Fortunate Son”).

    I biffed my way through and was left after post-solve parsing with POLYESTERS and AFICIONADO unclear to me, so my thanks to Zabadak for those. It’s not been a great week on the crossword front for me (an error in the QC again this morning!) so I was glad to escape a pink square here (especially with the “cachelot” trap).

    TIME 11:27

  18. I enjoyed the puzzle, and was happy with my 11 min time, but unaccountably put REFINED instead of REFUNDS, on account of not reading the clue. I just saw the words “makes good” and biffed it. I knew nearly all the vocab, though I would have put CACHELOT if I hadn’t parsed the clue carefully. I don’t recall ever seeing the word CRENATE before, but it’s obviously related to crenellations, and has a similar meaning, so it wasn’t difficult to work out from the word play. COD to RAPT.

  19. 29 mins. Actually I was impressed, all the NHOs were gettable from the cryptic and SACERDOTALISM was obviously an ISM which helped. LOI CACHALOT which didn’t sound likely but turned out to be French for sperm whale. Who knew?

  20. I found this delightfully tricky, but failed, having put REFINES (makes good — or makes better, at least), rather than REFUNDS, despite earlier having toyed with FUN and dismissed it, and even though I couldn’t parse the rest of it, thinking I was missing something.
    FOI RAPT, LOI ALEPHS, COD is moot. Too many good ’uns.

  21. I also thought a DEMOISELLE was some sort of insect and that a crane was, apart from all its other meanings, a term for a cranefly, so I never checked this. Not that it mattered.

    61 minutes for this, having ground to a halt with some to do (IDEALISING, CRENATE, DEMOISELLE) and using aids. STARCHIEST entered without understanding — ‘boxed’ just seemed to be an inclusion indicator and I never realised that there was more. Nice crossword, some good clues and nothing that seemed to be controversial.

  22. 28.19. A pretty stiff work-out but it transpired that I had most of the required General Knowledge. However, I think that I have only encountered ‘demoiselle’ as a dragonfly rather than a crane, but the answer was clear from the wordplay.

  23. DNF, defeated by CACHALOT and AGNOMEN, neither of which I’ve heard of.

    Didn’t know that meaning of FARROW and only vaguely remembered quarrel=arrow. CRENATE, DEMOISELLE, ALECTO and MEDE were all also unknown, but I managed to construct them from wordplay.

    Thanks Zabadak and setter.

    COD Idealising

  24. Completed in around 55 mins but checked as I went along due to quite a few NHOs or VHOs. New to me were CACHALOT, CRENATE, DEMOISELLE (as a bird) and MEDE. Had vaguely heard of SACERDOTALISM. Needed help parsing POLYESTERS and PREP (must remember per for a!). A few years ago I set about learning the Fates, Furies, muses, Graces etc – great when it pays off. LOI was IDEALISING (very clever). Much to enjoy, especially the obscure vocab. Thanks for the blog Z.

  25. Lots of words either unknown or lurking at the fringes of my ken today. RAPT was FOI, followed by SENATOR and ALEPH, which led to RESISTANCE and the vaguely remembered SACERDOTAL. POLYESTERS lurked in the grid for quite some time before I manged to parse it and concentrate on LOI, CACHALOT, where I suspected the T at the end might be wrong. I knew I was looking for a classical Fury but had to rely on wordplay for the ALECTO. DEMOISELLE I knew as an insect, so the association with crane fly was enough to stop me worrying about it. AGNOMEN was a lurker constructed from the recipe, as was CRENATE. 20:54. Thanks setter and Z.

  26. HEIFER was easy enough from the wordplay, but “small”? Heifers are generally fully grown, they just haven’t calved yet.

    Not my finest hour, a big fat DNF – I had no trouble with the eastern half, but started to flag and gave up with most of the NW corner missing, even though, seeing the solutions above, some were very gettable. My problem, as ever, was synonyms that are a bit of a stretch; for example RAPT – it occurred to me that it was the answer because of wrapped/rapt being homophones, and it also occurred to me that one can be “sent into raptures”, but I had no checkers and couldn’t convince myself that it was right. Similarly, “resistance” and “confrontation” are not close enough in meaning to me for the latter to suggest the former. It’s time I learned!

    That said, I would have had to be on a very good day to get “ALEPHS” (a word I do know, although I’ve only ever seen it in the singular) and “AGNOMEN”, which I’ve NHO and could only possibly have got from wordplay; unfortunately, apart from “-MEN” the pennies didn’t drop.

    1. ‘Send’ does, in isolation, mean ‘to move to excitement or rapture’ (Collins). This is something I’ve learned from doing these things, I’ve never encountered it IRL.

        1. Very much a word of that era. I haven’t heard it since. So people less than a certain age might have had trouble with it.

  27. 42:08

    Did all but the SE corner in about 30 mins after which a long gap until IDEALISING (easy in retrospect) dropped in. Gave me the L for NHO ALECTO (note to self: learn furies and muses etc) pencilled in, but enough to settle on DEMOISELLE and NHO CRENATE. Finally a big meh for another NHO MEDE which I’d parsed very early on but waited until the checkers were both in before committing.

    Earlier, had no idea what was going on with POLYESTERS – no idea what LYE is, and couldn’t have told you what a CACHALOT was, nor what exactly SACERDOTALISM is (though undoubtedly been here before).

    Thanks for unravelling Z

  28. 26:25 – much arcana, fortunately accompanied by reasonably unambiguous cluing, including my LOI, the suspiciously convenient-sounding CACHALOT.

  29. 28ac I always think of the Moselle as a German river so I parsed this clue as DE (half of side) MOI (one in French) followed by the river SELLE.

  30. Excellent puzzle but I felt that a lot of the vocabulary was bordering on mephisto territory. In most instances the word play was kind but you are kind of crossing fingers when entering Mede, cachalot, alephs, Alecto.

    I was still defeated by Demoiselle though. I had Lemoiselle which exactly fitted the definition (half of left rather than half of side) and if you don’t know, you don’t know.

    Thx z and setter

  31. 18:24

    A veritable cornucopia of vocabulary today, which took some careful teasing out in places, but all was fairly clued. A slight hmm at LYE for “solution”: I’m only aware of it meaning specifically an alkaline solution, so I’ll keep it in mind for future reference.

    Alecto, if anyone is interested, derives from the verb ἀλέκω (or ἀλέξω), which means to ward off or requite/avenge, which alludes to the avenging nature of the Furies in mythology.

  32. I think DEMOISELLE was my LOI—if memory serves, but that was on the other side of a long night’s sleep. I was glad to think of ALECTO. Some of these did seem baffling for a minute.

  33. I enjoyed this puzzle, completed in two bites in 32 minutes. Yes, there was plenty of recondite vocabulary but I found it all reasonably manageable from the clueing. I always get held up by ALECTO as I remember her from my schooldays as ALLECTO. And I was also held up by 2dn as my go-to international organisation for crossword purposes is the UN, but daylight finally dawned.
    FOI – PREP
    Thanks to Zabadak and other contributors.

  34. Got there in the end but I found this hard. I did not know SACERDOTALISM, even without knowing its meaning, so I needed all the checkers and still there were other arrangements of letters that we somewhat plausible. I had a vaguely remembered CACHELOT for a time, without fully understanding, before twigging it must be CHA in the middle to get a drink. No problem with ALEPH since “aleph 0” comes up in math and computer science (it is the cardinality of a countable set like the integers, and perhaps surprisingly, the rationals too). My LOI was CACHALOT since I fixed my error at the end. I think DEMOISELLE was the one before that, only guessing it must be a bird. I thought it was a fish (it is). A few others were vaguely remembered words that I couldnl’t tell you the meaning of, created from the wordplay.

  35. Too many obscure words for me to enjoy. I just got annoyed and heifer led me astray as they are not small.

  36. The last time we had CACHALOT I misspelled it, as so many of us seem to do. Not this time round, oh no. DEMOISELLE cranes had me thinking of a wonderful book recently read, THE YEARLING, which has a magical description of dancing cranes seen through a child’s eye in 19th century Florida. Done in 22’05”. Good fun. Thanks.

  37. 36.13. I found this pretty tough and needed to dredge up some long forgotten words as well as finding new ones. Cachalot was my LOI but I didn’t find much of it easy, illustrated by only filling in two across clues on a first pass and one of them was ouse.

    Cluing was very fair but did require some trust in unknowns. Crenate was another example. But feel good about persevering so thanks setter and blogger.


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