Mephisto 3248 – “The staminate and pistillate….

Tim Moorey puzzles are typically more difficult – he likes to work the unlikely definitions of common words found in Chambers.     This puzzle was no exception.     Even the easy ones, like eras and rummy, were not that easy, just because you’re expecting something tricky.

I managed to solve this one in only one sitting, taking around an hour and a half.   I did have to ply my trusty copy of Chambers, and look at the entries very closely.     Some of the longer answers could be easily biffed, which allows the solver to bypass some of the more tortured wordplay.    It took me a few seconds to put Hieronymus, but nearly half an hour to figure out how the cryptic works.


3 Leader in Turkey silences rowdy fairs (10)
MUTESSARIF – MUTES + anagram of FAIRS.   Once you see mutes, you can look it up.
10 Important dates mostly put out of one’s mind (4)
11 Picked up solitary mineral (8)
ANKERITE – Sounds like anchorite.
12 Assistant with a cotton fabric (4)
AIDA – AID + A, an assistant that is not a person, which would be an aide.
13 Char is ready to fill lamp (7)
TORGOCH – TOR(GO)CH, a kind of bird.
15 Taiwan back in energy dispute (5)
SCRAP – S(R.C. backwards)AP, where R.C. = Republic of China.  Sap can mean deprive of energy, but as a noun it can mean energy.
17 Classy Arab lady announced is member of religious sect (6)
SHAKER – Sounds like sheikhah, in non-rhotic dialects.
18 Quiet boring capital of Arkansas? Little Rock (6)
APLITE – A[rkansas](P)LITE.   A rather forced clue, in my opinion.
20 Checker protects border for several months (9)
22 Labour pal’s skit about leader of Conservatives is low comedy (9)
SLAPSTICK – Anagram of PAL’S SKIT around C[onservatives], where labour is a verb.
25 Hot and spicy shakes in drinking cups (6)
SCYPHI – Anagram of H + SPICY…not to be confused with sippy cups.
27 Meanly treated, they’re not experts (6)
LAYMEN – Anagram of MEANLY, my FOI.
30 It’s not good when short of clubs for game (5)
31 Idea kid developed to become an itinerant dealer (7)
DIDAKEI – Anagram of IDEA KID, a Romany word.
32 Thong shown by Golda, perhaps in retreat (4)
RIEM – Golda MEIR backwards.
33 Effeminate types not once seen in raunchy pieces (8)
EPICENES – Anagram of PIECES around NE, where once indicates that the word for not is archaic.   See Chaucer’s description of the Knight.
34 Low-down on universal joint (4)
GENU – GEN + U, the Latin word for knee that managed to infiltrate English.
35 Lots including a phone number for woven fabrics (10)
1 Thought again about clots, pronounced for an oldie (10)
REASSESSED – RE + ASSES + SED, Miltonic spelling of said.   Presumably, Milton is now an oldie.
2 Brass one church introduced in arrangement of carol (8)
ORICHALC – Anagram of CAROL around I CH.  A strange-looking word, but sure enough it’s there in Chambers.
3 Medium curry accepted for Islamic college (7)
MADRASA – MADRAS + A.  The last definition of madras in Chambers is a medium-hot curry.
4 Work in Finnish city not quite finished (6)
TAMPER – TAMPER[e] – work as a verb.
5 It’s supporting record complaint (9)
ENTERITIS –  ENTER + IT IS in a down clue.
6 Energy cuts coming up — blanket needed (6)
SERAPE – E PARES upside-down.
7 So wrongly, wild sheep tail cut off (5)
ARGAL – ARGAL[i], referring to the mangling of “ergo”  by the semi-literate characters in Hamlet.
8 Joke about Italy’s great success (4)
RIOT – R(I)OT, where joke in the sense of nonsense is one of the last meanings for rot given in Chambers.   Riot is similar.
9 Long green border lacking depth (4)
ITCH –  [d]ITCH.
14 Fancy Siemens in your home, nothing excluded — or Bosch? (10)
HIERONYMUS –  Anagram of S + IN YOUR H[o]ME.   I suspected S might be the stock symbol for Siemens, but it is actually the abbreviation of the siemens electric unit.   Great surface, but the answer is highly biffable.
16 Armies switching right to left take heart from brilliant victory (9)
RAMILLIES –  ARMIES with the R moved to the left around [bri]LLI[ant].
19 English guys in temporary accommodation to get flat? (8)
21 Preposterously, I am seen in scholarly books showing privates (7)
TOMMIES – TOM(anagram of I AM)ES.
23 Shell as before holding kronor in foreign currency (6)
SHEKEL – SHE(K)EL.   Sheel is a variant spelling of sheal, which means to shell or husk.
24 Nurses screening son for a stroke (6)
26 Quiet on river before church produces this? (5)
PEACE – P + EA + C.E., a compendium of cryptic cliches.
28 Spot a toad in Suriname (4)
29 Nurse Cavell lacking husband? Correct (4)
EDIT – EDIT(h).    This clue originally had Cadell, but the editor got it corrected in the online version.

12 comments on “Mephisto 3248 – “The staminate and pistillate….”

  1. I did, indeed, biff 14, but thought I had solved it. I decided this clue was a reverse letter bank (a device somewhat pioneered by my friends who do the Out of Left Field puzzles available via Patreon), but I did try mightily to parse it as an anagram—an attempt thwarted by my ignorance of the unit of electric conductance, susceptance, and admittance (I also didn’t, initially, know that a company named Bosch made washing machines).

    Still, just my second Mephisto and I got ’em all right. And I plunged in with great confidence, entering as my first one the previously unknown, certifiably obscure CYPHIS (ha!). I had three-fourths of this finished before turning again to the SW and correcting that.

    I didn’t know the nurse from the movie.
    As I have not yet bought Chambers, SHEKEL was a half-biff.

    Coincidentally, the New York Times crossword for today (Saturday, 3 December) has the clue “Carpels’ counterparts” for STAMENS… but I haven’t figured out the reason for this entry’s head…

  2. I got distracted by something and left the timer running so don’t have a record of my time but it was definitely tougher than the previous week’s.
    ‘An assistant that is not a person, which would be an aide’: not according to the gospel of Chambers, which has AID as a noun meaning a helper.

  3. Managed to avoid the elephant trap at 12a. Felt this was slightly easier than Tim’s usual.

  4. Two pink squares from mis-transcribing from my paper copy, which is annoying as I had it all correct on paper. MER at 21D. How can TOMMIES be an anagram of I AM in TOMES? It must be I’M reversed… but how is that prepsterously? Still puzzled after the blog! About 1:33 for me – about 3 times as long as last week’s! Thanks Tim and vinyl.

    1. Latin praeposterus, literally, in the wrong order, from prae- + posterus hinder, following

      1. Well the Mephisto is not O Tempora but I see “having or putting the last first” is a (rare) definition for preposterous in Chambers, so I guess that means turn I’M into M’I. Interesting. But I don’t think we’ll be seeing “preposterous” as a reversal indicator in the QC or 15×15 any time soon!

        1. It’s actually in Collins online, tagged as American:
          1. Rare
          with the first last and the last first; inverted

  5. Enjoyed this one – as above, for those newer to Mephisto be on the lookout for preposterous. I rather liked the clue for APLITE – the constraints of Mephisto clues make it difficult to come up with a fun surface like that.

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