The Times Cryptic Crossword Number: 24043

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 28 minutes

I found this quite straightforward. SYBARITISM and EDENTATE were new to me but both were gettable by the wordplay. I also didn’t know the abbreviation sc. SCREECH OWL was vaguely familiar, but wordplay was difficult so took a while.
I did online so didn’t make any notes, but I am sure there are a few clues that could elicit a moan from some solvers!

Also a couple of nods to my favourite (although currently troubled) football team with SPURS and LEVY.

Warm congratulations to all those participating and placing in the Championship this weekend – I had a quick scan of Peter’s notes and recognised quite a few names. I looked at his unofficial website on Saturday – and thought Mr Goodliffe was about due another win!


24 OPEN – triple definition.
25 SYBARITISM – anagram of ‘BRIT SAYS IM’ – not a word I’m familiar with. It is apparently the love of luxury.


1 IN,CH – I wouldn’t say that was a very short distance, but I guess it depends on what you are measuring.
2 PANT,HER – from The Jungle Book.
3 VITUPERATION – anagram of ‘OUT IN PRIVATE’ – I liked this anagram and clue.
4 R(EAR)ED – I thought the organ might be REED to start with.
5 SEND,DOWN – we had very similar to this a couple of weeks ago.
7 SA,MURA,1 – 1,ARUM,AS reversed.
8 SC,AVENGING – sc is an abbreviation for scilicet (that is to say, namely).
21 MID-AIR – RIA,DIM reversed.
23 1,MP’S – we have IMPS in the final answer and IMPISH in the first.

33 comments on “The Times Cryptic Crossword Number: 24043”

  1. 30 mins for me (which also included eating lunch).

    I didn’t know sloths were edentate, but they really don’t have much going for them so it doesn’t surprise me! I hadn’t come across “sybaritism” but it wasn’t hard to work out from the wordplay and “sybaritic”.

    Otherwise pretty straightforward.

    1. It turns out (courtesy of Google) that the sloths belong to an order which used to be called “Edentata” but is now called “Xenarthra”. They have no front teeth but some primitive peg-like back teeth which have no roots and are continually growing. (I shall refrain from drawing comparisons with elderly relatives.)
  2. 32 minutes with no major problems. MID-AIR was the last in as I had been thinking of AIR as the first word instead of the second. SCREECH OWL took longest to work out the wordplay. QED: 0,7,7.
  3. A gentle start to the week and my first really quick time for a week or so, clocking out at around 6 minutes.

    I’ve started taking up the cudgel for easy crosswords as they are the encouragement for the lifeblood of new solvers, and although there might be a couple of head-scratching moments in this one it should prove to be gettable by most. Plenty of straightforward wordplay, mostly very clear apart from a couple of instances of padding, and some very nice clever moments, my COD a case in point.

    Q-0 E-6 D-5 COD 16

    PS: I see the Times has done what it did last year, i.e. published the three final puzzles with almost indecipherable text for the clues. I’ll wait until my daytime eyesight has kicked in before I have a go.

      1. Fair comment. I’d never make the assumption that if I find a crossword easy it means it IS easy.
        I use two guides; firstly, solving time – it’s rough and ready, but if my solve is particularly quick it probably means I haven’t encountered anything you’d call genuinely tricky.
        Secondly I keep an eye out for wordplay techniques that venture into rarely used or even new territory. Didn’t spot any of that with this one, but if fairness there are a small number of answers – SHEPHERD’S PURSE, SYBARITISM, SCREECH OWL and VITUPERATION that might not come readily to some solvers, and it possibly doesn’t help that they are some of the longer answers.
        I only saw this one as on the easy side because for the most part the wordplay is quite clearly marked. Some setters incorporate reversal/container/anagram indicators etc in such a way that they’re extremely difficult to spot. In a fairly recent Times puzzle:

        Composer of lines for Soviet city (9)
        The answer is PROKOFIEV and I’ll leave you to work out just how superbly the setter has arranged the components. A puzzle filled with clues of this type would be difficult to the point of murderous.

  4. Can’t quite understand the word play for 16D – place = stead I can see but don’t get latter part – the yon


    1. YON = “that”
      Yon is a bit archaic but still gets used a lot in the north of England; north Lancs, Yorkshire way. Am I right in thinking it also has currency in the West Country?
  5. Stopped the watch at 5:48. I guess the right rating is “easy for old hands”. I jotted down ‘test/overs’ next to 1A for ‘some cricket’, but moved on, so this was completed later with the V from 3. Then AS IS and CONSTRAINT were both solvable on first look and led to about four of the downs. EMMA was easy too, also SHEPHERD’S PURSE which has appeared quite a few times over the years – as have CURARE and EDENTATE. I was a bit surprised to see that ‘sc.’ was new to foggyweb – maybe the setters rely on it less than they used to. I was a bit baffled by 7D’s woprdplay but put it in lightly, let the checking letters confirm, and then assumed that ‘ARUMAS’ was some plant I’d never heard of. Best bits of deception for me were 2D’s ‘Lady Bagheera’, not knowing my Jungle Book well enough to ignore this fake character, and 27’s nicely done wordplay and def.
  6. 12:30. Might have been faster but I threw in ‘vituperative’ for 3d which caused some problems.

    In 16d, I can see the components, but I still don’t quite get it as a whole. Could someone lay out the clue in baby steps for me? Ta.

    Q-0, E-6, D-6

    1. Place = STEAD
      that = YON
      so “might calm you down” must be the def. But “that might calm you down” seems to be a better def, but overlaps with the wordplay. For strict Ximeneans, this is verboten, but Richard Browne doesn’t mind bending the rules a bit.
      1. Thanks, PB. It makes more sense now, but it’s a strange clue – like staring at an abstract painting (I need someone to tell me what it ‘means’!).
      2. I’m all for bending the rules where it may be obvious or fairly obvious what the setter’s intention is, but the YON doing double duty to me makes for needless and possibly unfair obscurity.
  7. 9.25. The main problem was STEADY ON, which I just wasn’t able to see for some reason, and which took a few minutes all by itself at the end.
  8. 9:15 and no spelling mistakes. About 100 years ago, Edentate caught me out in a crossword so I looked at my dic which said something like “animal with no teeth eg a sloth”. Now whenever I see “sloth” I check whether edentate will fit. Thanks to foggy for reminding me of Spurs’ woes this season. It really cheered me up 😉
    An enjoyable one today, some quite tricky words but the wordplay left no doubt.
  9. A very fast 25 minutes, with only 21d causing any problems (_i_/air perhaps not being as obvious as it should have been). A bit of a relief, I thought, after a week or two that have quite hard.
  10. I took 30 minutes, but from the speed with which I solved 7 out of the first 8 across clues (12a had to wait) and a few of the crossing downs, I thought it was going to be under 15. However, 16 and 25 held me up for a long time; in fact most of the delays were caused by the SE corner.
    Nice puzzle to start the week.

    Thanks, sotira, and anyone else who advised me last week how to retrieve my password.

  11. Maybe I got started on this too late, 30 minutes, and should have been faster, because I kept thinking the setter was trying to lull me into writing false answers. I saw CORPORATION TAX fitting the spot, but wasn’t sure if it fitted (yes, it was late). SHEPHERD’S PURSE was new from wordplay. I did myself in early by confidently writing D,ON,T in as the answer to 26. (D’OH’N,T). Where’s the coffee?
  12. 20:55, didn’t enjoy this a great deal – too many imps and 22 felt a bit unsatisfactory – corporation tax is a levy on companies so to include company in the wordplay (albeit as a military reference) seems a bit weak. 26 felt a bit weak for a CD too.

    On the easy/medium/hard continuum I’d put this about halfway for one who has only been regularly tackling the Times daily for 8 months or so.

    Q-1, E-5, D-5

    1. Is this a CD? It seems a regular clue: Dead = late, and ‘on time? No!’ also means late.
      1. Quite so – but the extra bit – “Dead on time? No!” also being a def for LATE – means that there’s a bit of &littery in there too.
  13. A straightforward 20 minutes with a number of old chestnuts such as EDENTATE that Peter has already mentioned. If “that” is doing double duty in 16D (and I suspect it is) then it’s no surprise that I don’t like it.

    Anax, I always think of “yon” as Scots rather than “the north” so I’ve learned something there. I’m not aware of it as a southern expression.

    1. I’d forgotten the Scottish usage – yes, far more prevalent north of the border. Quite common in Yorkshire, of course, but I wasn’t really aware of its Lancastrian use until my early teens when I heard Mike Harding frequently using the word in his routines. For those who don’t know the name, Mike Harding was most popular in the early to mid 1970s as a folksy comedian/songwriter. Most of his work centred on the north Manchester and Lancashire areas.

      He gradually moved away from comedy and I can’t find any stand-up clips, but I did find this rather moving song:

      1. Totally O/T this, but enjoyable anyway. Memories of Mike Harding brought back some 1970s nostalgia as he had a number of “regional equivalents” doing much the same thing; Jasper Carrott, Max Boyce, Blaster Bates, Billy Connolly – even the late Fred Dibnah did a bit. Anyway, back to Mr Harding and one of his fortes was humorous poetry, such as the unforgettable Napoleon’s Retreat From Wigan:


  14. An exellent puzzle with plenty of unususal words…I must say i rather liked Vituperation and 19 across Dragon and Sybaritism as lovely clues…around 40 minutes off and on!

  15. ‘… might calm you down’ is fine since the ‘that’ or ‘this’ is understood elliptically. Ximeneans (of whom I am one, but not the setter of this puzzle incidentally) would have no problem with that clue -it’s fine to define nouns using verbs in this way. Azed would agree too, though he won’t go as far as to accept a noun and a verb elliptically, despite the fact that he did so years ago in two prize-winning clues for ‘vinegar'(my Manual covers all this). DFM
    1. Defining a phrasal interjection in this way feels like slightly different territory and more of a stretch than if the solution was, say, ‘sedative’.
    2. Thanks Don – this must be one of those areas where Azed occasionally shocks me, by doing things I wrongly think he doesn’t allow.
  16. What I particularly liked about this well crafted puzzle was that you could race through placing answers from part clues, and keyed letters, then go back and enjoy it all over again as the full subtlety of the clues was unveiled. A great great way to start the week.
  17. Yon must have had wider currency in the past. After all: “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous”. I don’t think whatshisname spent too much time in the North.
  18. 10:00 exactly for me, although I had to stop the clock a couple of times for interruptions. Pretty easy start to the week, nothing too tricky although I guessed a few answers and figured out the wordplay later.

    Incidentally, depending on how you read it, the wordplay for 13D can just as legitimately be read as SC(o)(RE-ECHO)WL.

  19. I enjoyed this one – especially as it included words just beyond my knowledge – SYBARITISM, VITUPERATION – but that were clued so I could get ’em anyway. Ta setter.

    There are 9 “easies” including one that seems to have the communal knickers in a bit of a twist?

    6a In the current circumstances, I will have to board a ship (2,2)
    A S I S. Long old clue for a 2,2 though.

    9a Check carton isn’t damaged (10)
    CONSTRAINT. Anagram of (carton isn’t)

    10a Excerpt from poem “Marmion” featured in book (4)
    EMMA. Hidden answer in 3rd & 4th words.

    19a Continue slowly, and arrive at the Lizard (6)

    26a Dead on time? No! (4)
    LATE. Dead for sure but not on time.

    11d Two nuns rig pad, working – and working properly (2,3,7)
    UP AND RUNNING. Anagram of (nun nun rig pad).

    16d Place that might calm you down (6,2)
    STEAD YON. See quite a bit of discussion above.

    18d 18d Receive electric shock treatment? That’s serious (7)
    EARN E.S.T.

    20d In great shape, showing determination (7)
    GRANITE. Hooray – a rock to end it.

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