Mephisto 2418/Mike Laws

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As has been stated before, Mephisto is an excellent bridge between the more difficult daily puzzles and the barred weekend puzzles such as the Listener. The clues in this one were not particularly difficult, and the less common words could all be worked out fairly from the wordplay involved. Once you get a few answers in place, other words “suggest” themselves to you from a spark of recognition somewhere in the clue.

If you are not bold enough to write your guesses in straight away, either pencil them in or go check the dictionary. Sometimes, checking the dictionary is a good idea even if you have completed the crossword, because you can often pick up a nugget which sticks and which could be of benefit later. For example, URTICA appeared in the Mephisto set by Tim Moorey a couple of weeks ago, so when I came to answer 13dn this week, the answer sprung immediately to mind. Also, see my comment for 9dn, where checking the web not only confirmed that I had the correct answer, but taught me something I didn’t know as well.


1 – GO(SSAM)ER – The sexy little number is a GOER, covering MASS reversed.

7 – GLIA – the supporting tissue of the brain and the spinal cord.

10 MONANDROUS – MONA-N(DR)OUS – a mona is a West African monkey, and monandrous means “having one mate at a time”.

14 – BARBECUE – I got this without knowing why “barbe” = “strict teacher”. A little post-crucuverbal research turned up that a barbe is a teacher of the Waldensian Christian community, which promotes an austere lifestyle and strict adherence to the Gospels.

17 – ULULATE – I once got into trouble at school, when in my Latin class, we were asked to come up with an English word from the root “ululare” – to hoot or wail. I offered Lulu.

21 – CARINA – Car. in A(ustralia). Have never come across A being Australia before – although it could be AustraliaN as in ANZAC, so I suppose there must be an abbreviation out there somwehere that has A=Australia.

27 – LEVIGATE – The certain Strauss is Levi Strauss (1829-1902), the jeans baron, and “levigate” can be smooth (noun) or to make smooth (verb)


32 – TAKA – clever hidden clue, the taka being a unit of currency in Bangladesh


2 – OCEAN BASIN – AS (when) in (CABIN ONE)*

3 – SMARM – “SM” = sergeant-major

5 – MANCUS – MAN (piece, as in chess piece) followed by CU (copper) and S (shillings), an old English coin worth thirty pence

6 – ENGULF – (LUG<=) in (fen)*

9 – ASSIENTO – ASS-I(E)NTO – where “enthusiatic about”. An assiento was a treaty for the supply of African slaves, prevalent in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The word comes from the Spanish for agreement, which is how I came to answer it, without knowing its full meaning.

13 – URTICATION – U-R(TIC)ATION – see preamble.

15 – PACIFIST – PACT with IF I’S included &lit.

20 – LEWISIA – A genus of North American herbs, including the bitterrrot. Wordplay is LE(WIS(e)-I)A

25 – FARSI – language in Iran. The wordplay will only work in a down clue here, because one drops (ie appears lower) in the answer, so fairs = bazaars, becomes FARSI. The “is it heard” bit of the clue led me on a wild goose chase, because I was looking for a homonym, and played wirth PURSE and purrs, before I checked in the letter A.

One comment on “Mephisto 2418/Mike Laws”

  1. For those who only get the Mephisto online, they’ve missed out the preamble to today’s puzzle:

    Six unclued solutions (two words each), are possible “18 across” (one word) in a seasonal item (two words) that can be arranged from the letters in shaded squares, and should be written out beneath the grid.

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