Times 27241 – Et Tu, Duodecime!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A puzzle with enough quirk to keep things interesting, with one word ready to take its place in the competition for ugliest word in English alongside moron, bigot, numeronym (thanks to Paul in the comments) and cognitive dissonance.

27 minutes.


1 Very dry American senator in Rome once (6)
5 Steal whiskey for large singer (8)
HAWFINCH – HALF-INCH (Cockney for ‘pinch’, knowaddimean?) wiv da L changed to a W. Awigh’?
9 Protestant with stringed instrument managed to capture hearts (8)
10 Judge’s wine imbibed by molecular biologist briefly (6)
CRITIC – IT (‘It’ is a rather dated way of referring to vermouth, which is a fortified white wine) in CRIC[k] – Francis of double-helix fame.
11 Arty type recalled main article, having time and energy (8)
AESTHETE – SEA reversed (main recalled) THE (article) T E
12 High wind trapping fighting men in great numbers (6)
GALORE – OR (Other Ranks) in GALE
13 Old word revealing a right rift around India! (8)
15 Aquatic bird shot for speaker (4)
TERN – sounds like ‘turn’ (shot in golf or snooker, say)
17 Lamb primarily associated with priest (4)
ELIA – ELI A (first letter of associated); besides being a crossword staple, Charles Lamb (AKA Elia) is well worth reading for his gentle yet insightful reflections. His New Year’s Eve is a particular favourite of mine.
19 Dealings shelved? It’s a compromise (5-3)
TRADE-OFF – a charade of TRADE (dealings) and OFF (shelved)
20 Posh headgear rejected by a North American statesman (6)
UTAHAN – A HAT reversed A N
21 Drove back the Spanish in place surrounded by grass (8)
22 Lyrical piece a Portuguese-speaking city thus presented (6)
23 Book couple’s got about little folk mostly male (8)
TWELVEMO – A horrible back-formation (presumably) from duodecimo: ELVE[s] (little folk mostly) M in TWO. If you’re still mixing up your elves and your pixies, it’s time you sat at the feet of David Brent and co.
24 Exciting item in sports programme for unfit layabouts originally (8)
EVENTFUL – EVENT (item in sports programme) F[or] U[nfit] L[ayabouts]
25 Game in farm vehicle caught by East European? (6)
ECARTE – CART in E E. It is rumoured that some people play it outside crosswords.


2 Native of Baltic State stopping debauchee’s game (8)
ROULETTE – LETT (Latvian who made his fortune producing desk diaries) in ROUE (as in eager young lads and roues and cads).
3 Islander’s cry of pleasure welcomed by famous artist (8)
4 Desire the name of this transport across the pond? (9)
STREETCAR – this side of the pond a tram; a reference to Tennessee Williams’s play
5 Fairy-tale siblings represented in Helen’s grand tale? (6,3,6)
6 Sack member producing dangerous weapon (7)
FIREARM – simple charade of FIRE ARM. First thing I would do if I became POTUS would be to rescind the 2nd amendment.
7 Knight of sound mind beheaded citizen (8)
NATIONAL – N (knight in chess) [r]ATIONAL
8 Eccentric had a nice ranch — in Mexico, possibly (8)
14 Turn up with baked food at church? A fine example! (9)
15 Bill you reportedly delayed, set out systematically (8)
TABULATE – TAB (bill) U (you reportedly) LATE
16 Single verse cutting about deceased kinsman (8)
RELATIVE – I V in (‘cutting’) RE (about) LATE
17 Finally diagnose brief illness through smells? (8)
EFFLUVIA – [diagnos]E [brie]F FLU (short for INFLUENZA) VIA (through)
18 During school time it’s temporarily suspended (8)
19 Poles carried in characteristic conveyance (7)
TRANSIT – N&S (poles) in TRAIT

73 comments on “Times 27241 – Et Tu, Duodecime!”

  1. I mistakenly took ‘Lamb primarily’ as L, and flung in LAMA, which slowed things down in that neck of the woods. I also started with ‘game’ at 25ac being either GO or RU; it isn’t. DNK HAWFINCH, but fortunately vaguely remembered ‘half-inch’. I didn’t realize that EFFLUVIA included smells. And isn’t one of the Fs unaccounted for? Also, am I missing something, or is there a problem with INTERMIT (present tense) and ‘suspended’ (participle)?
    1. I wondered about that too. Collins has a second definition: to be suspended temporarily or at intervals; and Merriam-Webster too, as an intransitive verb: to be intermittent.

      So to INTERMIT can apparently mean “to be suspended from time to time.”
      Neither source gives example sentences.

      Edited at 2019-01-07 05:45 am (UTC)

      1. I thought of that, and ODE gives as an intransitive meaning “(especially of a fever or pulse) stop for a time.” (And gives a bunch of example sentences, like “Students…who intermit or withdraw will only pay for the time they are resident”. But does that help? Transitive or in-, INTERMIT is a regular verb: If the def is ‘temporarily suspended’, it should be INTERMITTED; if, following Ulaca’s underlining, it’s ‘IS temporarily suspended’, it should be INTERMITS.
        1. to stop for a time; cease at intervals; make or be intermittent; discontinue

          Seems to me that one could say (not that I would) “the class will intermit throughout the fall term,” and this would mean “the class will be suspended from time to time throughout the fall term.” Not sure that works perfectly for this clue.

          And I’m not sure Ulaca meant to underline the apostrophe-s. I thought that was just connecting the wordplay, of which “it” is a part, to the definition.

          If we talk about this enough, the editor may appear to tell us what he was thinking.

          Edited at 2019-01-07 06:45 am (UTC)

          1. I was just hedging my bets with the underline. Anyway, I don’t see how your example helps. Now, if the clue read “During school time it be temporarily suspended”, …
  2. Nice crossword, with a few unknowns. Also didn’t know effluvia included smells, thought just waste flowing outwards. The first F is the last letter in brieF, Kevin. Failed on unknown HAWFINCH, putting HALFINCH for steal and wondering how to parse. Should have got it, HAW is common enough round these parts. Suffering a bit of cognitive dissonance myself – read “Baltic” and was thinking Serb, Croat, Montenegran; read “Siblings” and was thinking two girls, then; read “Baked” and was thinking orast. Mental dyslexia rools.
  3. I knew 5ac HALFINCH wasn’t quite right – but persisted.
    HAWFINCH! Damnation!


    LOI 25ac ECARTE

    COD 23ac TWELVEMO (of the ‘Ikean Ilk’)

    WOD HALFINCH!! prefered

    17dn EFFLUVIA sounds like a rather nice Victorian girl’s name as does CHLAMYDIA. I feel a Limmerick coming on!

    Edited at 2019-01-07 04:13 am (UTC)

  4. Under 15 minutes, which is about as fast as it gets for me. Surprising too, since there were about half a dozen words I didn’t know: HAWFINCH, TWELVEMO, ECARTE, ARIOSO, EFFLUVIA (as a smell rather than a discharge). But the wordplay was Mephisto-precise.
  5. FOI was HANSEL AND GRETEL, a fine start! I didn’t know quite what was going on with HAWFINCH, thanks for the explanation. Had never heard of TWELVEMO, but got it from the wordplay. Fine puzzle!
  6. 27 minutes and very lucky trusting to wordplay to arrive at two unknowns TWELVEMO and HAWFINCH. Also didn’t know CRIC{k} (sorry, Jim!).
  7. If you’re going to put twelvemo on your rather selective list of ugly English words, surely you should add eighteenmo?
    1. Sorry – wasn’t allowing for inflation.

      And what would human life be without selectivity?

      Edited at 2019-01-07 06:31 am (UTC)

        1. The great problem with induction is that data must be selected and that selection argues for deduction, since it is according to a premise or theory that such selection takes place.
  8. 41 minutes for me. Thought I was going to be faster, but the bottom half was much slower than the top.

    Started with 1a BRUTUS, finished with the double-unched crossers of 16d RELATIVE and 24a EVENTFUL, though I had my fingers crossed on ELIA, EFFLUVIA, TWELVEMO and ECARTE as I built my tower of mostly-unknown cards in the southeast.

  9. 35 mins with yoghurt, granola, blueberry compote.
    DNK Twelvemo, but do-able. And a Major MER at Intermit for the reasons given by Kevingregg above.
    Thanks setter and U.
    1. I’m going to see Rick Kemp play at the Twice Brewed Inn near Bardon Mill by Hadrian’s Wall later this month:-)
  10. I had most of this done in 10 minutes but then struggled in the SE corner, mainly with TWELVEMO. Often I come across an obscure word when solving and think to myself that it’s never used in the real world only to come across it soon after. This time I’m confident I won’t be coming across TWELVEMO (famous last words).
  11. 8:47. Strange for a puzzle with so many funny words to be so straightforward. The one that gave me most trouble was INTERMIT, where the wordplay seemed very clear but I couldn’t see how INTERMIT could possibly mean ‘suspended’. I still can’t. Looks like an error to me.
    1. I had similar reservations about INTERMIT but justified it on the grounds that it could be at the root of intermittent.
      1. It is at the root of intermittent, but that doesn’t really help. None of the possible definitions (depending on whether you include the S and what it is short for) give INTERMIT as far as I can see:
        Temporarily suspended => INTERMITTED*

        *which should be INTERMITTEN I think.

        1. I didn’t give it that much thought (which proved to be a good decision in this case)!
  12. 11:43. DNK TWELVEMO, puzzled by INTERMIT and forgot to go back and parse 10A. TABULATE my LOI, but nothing held me up much. COD to GALORE, thinking of the Scottish version of the liquor referenced at 5A. Thanks U and setter.
  13. 26 minutes, held up in SE with EFFLUVIA, SHOWPIECE and INTERMIT having cracked ELIA earlier. Once these fell into place with no little headshaking, ECARTE could be seen and the unknown LOI TWELVEMO constructed. ARIOSO was also unknown but readily constructed. The molecular biologist had to be either CRICK or WATSON for me to get CRITIC, although I seem to remember that Rosalind Franklin was done out of her share of the glory. COD to TABULATE. STREETCAR was the nicest clue but was a bit obvious. Martin Luther couldn’t get a seat when he was in San Francisco. He said to Mrs Luther: “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Thank you U and setter.
      1. I should have put New Orleans, where Desire was a streetcar. I goofed with San Francisco, the little cable-cars displacing the right memory. I was just about to hide my sins with an edit, but Rob had posted and the edit button had disappeared. Thank you for adding to my sense of shame!
  14. About sixteen minutes. Knew quarto, octavo, so twelvemo not such a stretch. Not convinced by ulaca’s Cockney, and I am a real one. Intrigued by the clue though, change the enumeration to (4-4) and would you need to change the clue to get HALF-INCH? Had also bunged in LAMA, but this quickly became unsustainable.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

    1. ‘Whiskey for large’ (as opposed to ‘large for whiskey’) seems unambiguous to me.
  15. A nearly straight through 15 minute solve, the lower right proving slightly more resistant. I’ve met 12mo before, temporarily suspended grammar for INTERMIT, and had SHOWPIECE as my last in. Though Mrs Z might disagree, my EFFLUVIA are sweet and fragrant, but then the clue doesn’t insist the smells are unpleasant.
    Fairy-tale siblings? Remind me, what was the rest of the clue? Thanks, U for noticing, and for an informative and entertaining report.
    1. Somehow Helen induced a crossed wire in my brain and I spent a little bit of time trying to think of siblings from antiquity. Then I reread the clue.
  16. Very fast, despite the unfamiliar words, but with a careless mistake that I am too embarrassed to admit.
    I thought the whole puzzle was a bit of a 13a with no evidence that the last 40 years actually happened.
  17. There was a small chap in my form at school called Halfacre who was invariably called Halfinch (similarly but slightly off piste, the unfortunate Fernando Burgarolas was simplified to Fred Bogroll).

    Anyway, though I saw both HAWFINCH and HALFINCH, I opted for the latter rendering my first day back 55 minutes somewhat pointless. Did learn some new words though….

  18. There was a small chap in my form at school called Halfacre who was invariably renamed Halfinch. He was luckier though thsn Fernando Burgarolas who became Fred Bogroll.

    I went for Halfinch over HAWFINCH rendering my 55 minutes somewhat pointless though I did learn a few new words

  19. Enjoyed this gentle, but not too easy, Monday puzzle. 25 mins. Paulmcl was spot-on, I think, in noting that though several of the solutions were rare or unusual words the mechanistic clueing enabled most of us to get them without much difficulty. Like everyone else’s eyebrows, mine lifted slightly at INTERMIT, but it just had to be.
    Ulaca: I assumed that your candidate for the most ugly word in the English language would be UTAHAN — eeugh — rather than 12mo; that was the word that jumped out at me in its awfulness. I think we’ve had OHIOAN fairly recently, haven’t we? What can you do with these New World names? (Well, you can use ’em in crosswords, I suppose…) Yes, with ELIA, AESTHETE, ARIOSO, ARCHAISM, TWELVEMO and CRITIC, this definitely had a belles-lettres feel about it.
    Thanks, U, for the excellent blog.
  20. ….by entering HALFINCH. Wondered why there was no hyphen indicator. Sheer carelessness.

    CRITIC parsed post-solve.

    TIME N/A

  21. 19 mins. Started confidently with ESTONIAN and KNOT without reading the rest of the clues (it is a Monday puzzle after all), and promptly and inevitably seized up. Fortunately I was able to rattle through the NE which brought me back to 1D, where I realised that I had missed our very old friend, the LETT.
  22. Whisking along but spent the last 15+ minutes on intermit which I couldn’t help trying to puzzle out the grammar of, and don’t believe it’s legit., and twelvemo, ending in a bit short of the half-hour. Cheered by the thought of the magical T. Williams play nonetheless.
  23. First full week of the New Year and my benchmark is set – 8.32 and I doubt if I’ll match it in the next TWELVEMO. I’m pretty sure we’ve had the word before but not at all recently.

    I recognized Crick quickly because his partner Watson has been in the news again very recently thanks to a new documentary about him (Decoding Watson) and his unreconstructed views about race and intelligence. “Double helix” is the term that was coined on the Club forum for a certain type of crossword clue in which it’s difficult to see which of the 2 possible strands is intended by the setter. Recent editors seem to have got wise to the problem and it now happens much more rarely. I was trying to recall an example but came up blank.

      1. A technical question: do you run the SNITCH, or does it run itself? Have you set up a program that logs into the Times Crossword Club, reads all the results, calculates the stats and outputs them. Or is a labour-intensive labour-of-love by yourself?
        Just curious.
        1. I’m a very un-tech solver (although I do now solve online while I used to print a few years ago) so I have no program and nothing is automatic, although I can’t say it takes any effort. The Snitch website is bookmarked in a group with TFTT, the Times Club site and the Guardian cryptics and I glance at it on the day more often than not. I like it for comparison because the Club stats are swamped with neutrinos.
        2. Thanks for the question. Yes, as vinyl notes, the process is definitely automatic (written in Ruby on Rails and published on heroku, if you like further detail). I certainly wouldn’t have the time or inclination to do it manually.
          1. Thanks. Trying to learn php/javascript/ajax/mysql and get a handle on what’s possible.
        3. Belated apology. I should have seen your question was for Starstruck – no wonder I didn’t make any sense of it! Duh.
  24. I started off at a gallop with the NW and our domicile munching children entered very quickly. The NE went in more slowly, with TRADE OFF precluding lama, and ELIA eventually surfacing. I didn’t know the HAWFINCH, but the wordplay was clear. The SE found me becalmed so I moved on to the SW which succumbed apart from ARIOSO, which was my antipenultimate, before INTERMIT and finally TWELVEMO, which was constructed purely from wordplay. An enjoyable start to the week. 22:01. Thanks setter and U.
  25. 13m 07s. I made heavy weather of a number of these, spending far too long on EVENTFUL, RELATIVE & NATIONAL, none of which should have caused as much trouble as they did. Getting NATIONAL opened up the NE corner, which fell pretty quickly after that.

    TWELVEMO is indeed horrible, but I might vote UTAHAN as the least pleasing word of the day. Something about it.

  26. I think TWELVEMO (and EIGHTEENMO etc) came about because they are long in Latin, so actual printers trying to get things printed would just write 12mo or 18mo. People seeing that would just pronounce it “twelve-mo”. So i don’t think it was back-formed directly from the Latin word.

    We do something similar in computer science with words like INTERNATIONALIZATION which becomes i18n (and LOCALIZATION becomes l12n). There is a well-known venture capital company here in Silicon Valley called Andreessen-Horowitz, or more commonly just a16z (ay-sixteen-zee in American). Apparently, these are all known as numeronyms.

    1. Nowt new – in 1939 Ian Fleming became 17F and signed himself thus throughout WWII – from memory he worked in section 17z (Z Section)
  27. A third of which time was taken up with the last two – twelvemo and intermit – which I have to admit I ended up checking. What a horrid word is twelvemo. Does it really exist? Elia I put in out of some vague association in my brain with a writer called Lamb, but I couldn’t have said what. Otherwise it all slotted in very easily, and at one point I thought I was heading for one of my rare under 10-minuters.
    1. Exactly the same holdups as you. Twelvemo indeed!!

      Edited at 2019-01-07 10:56 pm (UTC)

  28. Did it all bar 1 ac and 2dn in about 8 mins. Then – couldn’t get brut. As the clue said very dry, and there was a T as the 4th letter, I was up for putting SO (very) + TT (dry) + US to give SOTTUS. All of which meant I couldn’t get ROULETTE. Ridiculous really; brut is pretty obvious, but there it is.
    1. I tried SOTTUS too. When I corrected it I thought that either way it was an easy start to the grid.
      1. Glad it wasn’t just me. But as you imply, Paul, brut is a standard item; it inexplicably deserted me today, though.

        Edited at 2019-01-07 04:16 pm (UTC)

  29. A quick time for me, too. It took a while to see Utahan, ugly indeed, particularly because U Thant has almost all the right letters in almost the right order and with almost the right 1,5 v 6 lettering.
    I always more pleased to find semi-classical words such as Brutus and Elia in the grid than I am when I find plants or fabrics, and I can get quite full of myself when I know some of the rhyming slang. So overall a nice start to the week. Thanks, Ulaca
  30. 19:45 pleased to dip under 20 mins and get this all correct. As the vocab required became increasingly abstruse (hawfinch, arioso, twelvemo, ecarte, effluvia, intermit) I couldn’t help feeling with each one that I was pushing the boat out more and more and almost certain to come a cropper. The wordplay was true though.
    1. Excellent! I saw them in Middlesbrough back in the early 90s. Maddy fell off the stage!
  31. Apart from TWELVEMO (Yes, ugly word) and perhaps, ARIOSO, that didn’t feel like a Times cryptic. Did they borrow it from A.N.Other newspaper?
    PS….My ‘very dry’ senator was SOTTUS for a while!

    Edited at 2019-01-08 12:47 am (UTC)

  32. Thanks setter and ulaca
    You guys get it finished in < 12 min and here I am struggling to get it done in < 12 months !!! In fact it was a bit over half an hour … just took a while to get to it.
    The gimme HANDSEL AND GRETEL got one off to a flying start and was able to finish it off in a couple of short looks and a 15 minute session at the end.
    TWELVEMO presented no issues – had seen it before in other crosswords and it was a mid-solve entry. A few others were new to me – HAWFINCH, INTERMIT and ARIOSO,
    Finished in the SW corner with UTAHAN (which took longer than it should have), TABULATE and that ARIOSO as the last one in.

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