Times 23834 Ancient Arcane Alphabets

Solving time : 40 minutes

Some obscure stuff today and one or two clues such as 24 down that would not be out of place in Mephisto.
We have two old alphabets and an old Greek coin plus some unusual meanings like Ishmael for outcast.
One really excellent clue for me today, thats 8 down.

1 DISGUISE – DIS-GUISE; DIS=slang for disrespect; GUISE sounds like “guys”
5 DIPPER – (big) dipper is US for star formation the plough; dipper=bird
10 CHATSWORTH,HOUSE – (he throws out cash)*; home of Duke of Devonshire
11 OPERATE – O-PE-RATE; run=operate; PE=physical education
12 DIALECT – DIAL-ECT; ECT=electro convulsive therapy
13 TORE,INTO – TO(REIN)T-O; to tear into is to censure
18 AIMED – AI-ME-D; ME=this person; to train a gun is to aim it
20 MASTHEAD – M-AS-THE-AD; M=motorway; AD=advert=notice; MASTHEAD is a banner headline
23 STOICAL – S-TO(I)C-AL; SAL is our girl and COT is the bed
25 PHILTRE – an aphrodisiac after Sal in bed that sounds like filter
26 ATHANASIAN,CREED – (the canadians are)*; old creed by Anathasius who lived circa 350AD
27 FAMISH – F-AM-ISH; bleak=type of fish
1 DOCTOR – DOC-TOR; Doctor Who is iconic TV character; COD=fake; TOR=a hill
2 STATEROOM – STATER-O-OM; STATER=old Greek coin; OM=Order of Merit=gong
6 ISHMAEL – IS-H(MA)E-L; MA=old woman as in grandma; ISHMAEL,son of Abraham, =an outcast
7 PRUNE – P-RUNE; PRUNE=dullard; RUNE=ancient German alphabetic character
8 ROENTGEN – (one gent+r(adiation))*; discoverer of the X-Ray; excellent clue
9 STUDIOUS – STUD-IOUS; boss=STUD; an IOU is a note recognising a debt
14 NAMELESS – undistinguished=anonymous; I don’t yet see the rest of it
16 APARTHEID – (pair hated)* besotted=anagrind
17 FALSTAFF – FAL-STAFF; flower=river=FAL (Cornish river enters sea at Falmouth); FALSTAFF was a jolly chap
19 DECANTS – DEC-ANTS; DEC=December; to decant is to rehouse people
21 HAIRCUT – H-AIR-C-UT; Bob=hairstyle;
24 OGHAM – OG-HAM(let); turn=GO reversed; Hamlet is the play; OGHAM=old Celtic alphabetic characters

26 comments on “Times 23834 Ancient Arcane Alphabets”

  1. Another puzzle of two halves. I romped through the RH side and thought I might finish in well under 30 minutes but it wasn’t to be. I struggled a bit with the NW quarter but then came to a grinding halt and took ages to crack the SW including 13 and 14 which were the very last to go in.

    As things turned out I didn’t think much of “jolly party” as the definition for 17. It had me playing with RM and DO for far too long before eventually giving up on the idea and looking for another explanation.

    Nothing distinguishes itself as a COD.

  2. If you remove the N(name) from band, you get bad.
    This had me scratching my head too. It was my last entry.

      1. Aren’t the ‘undistinguished band’ the nameless, which then equals those who are bad, as in ‘those who shall remain nameless’?

        By the way, I didn’t know that you UK folks call the Big Dipper constellation The Plough, so I got that wrong, guessing ‘ripper’. Everything else eventually fell in place, though it took well over an hour. Regards.

  3. I too solved the right half fully in reasonable time.

    The left half took more time and at the time of my visiting here some holes remained in it.

    FALSTAFF yielded itself after I got ‘staff’, and veered away from ‘party’ = do, treat; Dee, Exe were known to me but Fal? These three-letter British rivers are forever rising.

    After solving STOICAL, I thought it was rev of CIOT in LASS and was wondering why there was that extra S before I realised that the container is SAL without any reversal.

    Rishi in Madras (Chennai), India

  4. I too guessed NAMELESS but the justification was not apparent immediately. I find that it still remains to be deconstructed.


  5. Come to think of it, I should have cottoned on to ‘party’ = ‘individual’ more quickly.

    The use of the word in this sense is very common in Madras.

    Even Tamilians speaking in their mother tongue would use the English word instead of any Tamil equivalent.

    An expression that is notoriously used in Tamil films and magazines is “jollu party” which means “someone who drools over women”, ‘jollu’ being a Tamil word meaning saliva.

  6. 9:39 for this. 13A held me up a bit at the end until I realised that INTO was the most plausible second word. Minor quibble at 20 – the masthead is the newspaper or magazine’s name at the top of page 1 or the front cover. 10A is my suggestion for COD.
    1. As you can imagine Collins received a bit of a pounding writing the analysis for this puzzle. I too was a bit puzzled by Masthead but when I looked it up Collins says not just the name of paper but also its propietors, staff, etc. “printed in large type at the top of the front page”. Jimbo.
      1. Yes indeed, the masthead includes other stuff – I meant to contrast with “banner headline”, which for me belongs to a story.
  7. If 15 ac is lease (= hire) I don’t see the rest. Initial deposit of pound = D or P? If P then “please” appears somewhere but…….
    18 ac: why is “this person” = me?
    1. It’s me as in the setter of the puzzle.They’ve been using variations of this quite a lot lately. Jimbo.
  8. I filled all of the top half except 13 reasonably quickly (for me), but as the minutes ticked by I still had 13, 14 and 17 to solve after 50 minutes. I should have seen FALSTAFF since I was sure of the STAFF ending, but was looking some unfamiliar word meaning a rave of some kind, while the O ending for the second word of 13 suggested a Latin phrase. At this point I conceded defeat, I’m afraid.
  9. My 30 minute lunch break came and went and I had 3 still to fill in. I should have got 13a, this “may” have led me to 14d (far too devious for my liking), an on a better day I may have seen the “filter” homophone at 25a. My one and only Shakespeare book came up today. I was forced to trudge through Henry IV Part 2 for my Eng Lit O level, which I failed with flying colours. I haven’t read an old book since.
    8d gets my COD nomination, but I also liked the use of “diss guys” in 1A
  10. I got bogged down with this, having 6 left after 12 minutes and taking another 12 to finish it (24:37). Last to go in was 3dn UPSTAGE (which doesn’t really mean “be haughty towards”, does it?).

    My COD was 8dn, also liked 11ac.

  11. Didn’t get tore into. Had three stabs at this during the day, and just could not see that one. Oh well..
  12. Polished off the top half pretty quickly but got totally stuck on Falstaff, nameless, ogham, philtre, famish and whotsit creed. Gave up after 35 mins.

    Agree with linxit on 11ac for COD – brilliant surface. Liked 21d too.

    Although it was the first answer I filled in I was surprised to see “dis” for “show contempt” in a Times crossword. We’ll be having txt spk next.

  13. I liked this clue, but what is the purpose of “This”? The clue seems to read perfectly well without it. It seems to me that it makes for slightly uncomfortable wordplay without improving the surface.
  14. ‘This’ is absolutely necessary to make the clue sound. It is THIS (word meaning) undistinguished which applied to BAND makes it BAD. If you took away the THIS you would have a definition but the subsidiary indication in the rest of the clue would be inadequate. The surface meaning is fine either way, but soundness is the prime concern and must never be sacrificed. An alternative version separating out the Def and SI more clearly would have been :
    Undistinguished? This band is bad!
    but the clue as written is fine.
  15. First time in ages I’ve not finished and it’s the one clue you haven’t included in your list.
  16. Some comments seem to be over complicating 14d. Barbara – in the second comment above – explains it perfectly!

    This was a cracker in my view. I learned a new fish, a previously unknown Christian doctrine and managed to use the clue – yes, ReadTheFlippingClue npb – to dissuade myself from biffing CODE ZERO at my LOI at 13a to get TORE INTO. Lovely.

    There are a mere 4 omissions by the revered Jimbo and some of these have been covered above. I never let that get in the way of putting my bunny-like oar in:

    15a Hire facility requires initial deposit of pound (5)
    £ EASE. Where facility = EASE and pound = £ or L.

    28a Huge animal could spell (ant’s doom)* (8)
    MASTODON. An ancient prehistoric elephant?

    4d Hospital getting cross about support being only temporary? (5)
    S H ORE. Where H = hospital, SORE = cross and to SHORE something up is only temporary although my garden shed has been like that for decades.

    25a Drama on a piece of land liable to flood (5)
    PLAY A. Playa lakes are fascinating places where you can get huge flocks of Flamingoes and all sorts of valuable minerals including Lithium-rich brines for making Li-ion batteries that will soon charge our entire world coupled with solar energy.

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