Times 28684 – over 40 feet high, just a little bit shy

Time taken: 6:39

I flew through this one, and some of the early times are pretty slick but not extremely so meaning I was probably on the setter’s wavelength here. It is a good puzzle for trusting the wordplay, which was needed for a few answers that looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place the definition.

How did you do?

1 Language that’s often assumed to be French (6)
POLISH -the secondary definition refers to FRENCH POLISH
4 Coastal path once rich in diversity (8)
10 Hostile takeover of company marred update and conclusion of contract (4,5)
COUP DETAT – CO(company), an anagram of UPDATE, and the last letter of contracT
11 Person slow to appreciate some profound uncertainties (5)
DUNCE – hidden inside profounD UNCErtainties
12 Remove load from boat docked at noon (7)
LIGHTEN – LIGHTER(boat) minus the last letter with N(noon)
13 Serious point about France regularly ignored (7)
EARNEST – EAST(point) surrounding alternating letters in fRaNcE
14 Body temperature (approximately) (5)
TORSO – T(temperature), OR SO(approximately)
15 Making folio inscription attractive (8)
FETCHING – F(folio), ETCHING(inscription)
18 Terminate police officers found with crack (8)
DISSOLVE – DIS(police officers) and SOLVE(crack)
20 Mixer increasing the vibrancy of first note (5)
TONIC – double definition, the first note of the musical scale is the second definition. See comments: tonic can be separated so this can be a triple definition
23 Time wasted in retreat’s really not fair (7)
HIDEOUS – remove T(time) from HIDEOUT’S(retreat’s)
25 Game in which bad play results in suspension? (7)
HANGMAN – cryptic definition
26 New member of parliament initially offers women service of no use (5)
OWLET – first letter in Offers, then W(women) and LET(service of no use in tennis)
27 People who allow joint possession (9)
OWNERSHIP – OWNERS(people who allow, or own up to), then HIP(joint)
28 Large parrot that is mainly found in Africa (5,3)
GREAT APE – GREAT(large) and APE(parrot)
29 Makes one university publication for teachers (6)
UNITES – UNI(university), TES(Times Educational Supplement, publication for teachers)
1 Embezzle money once received by means of collection in church (8)
PECULATE – ECU(money, once) inside PLATE(means of collection in church)
2 What’s extended for catching sun when stripped? (7)
LOUNGER – an all-in-one.  LONGER(extended) containing the middle letter of sUn
3 Subversive issue, not new in South America (9)
SEDITIOUS – EDITION(issue) minus N(new) inside S(south) US(America)
5 Available to accept it as an alternative (2,3,5,4)
ON THE OTHER HAND – ON HAND(available) containing THE OTHER(it)
6 Lowest point of delta overwhelmed by pouring rain (5)
NADIR – D(delta) inside an anagram of RAIN
7 Deal with business matter (7)
CONCERN – double definition… I was wondering if this might be a triple def, but I think it has to be split this way. Watch for many dissenting opinions in comments (and there are… the intention was probably a triple definition)
8 Judge in case of extreme perverted act gets matter thrown out (6)
EJECTA – J(judge) inside the external letters of ExtremE then an anagram of ACT
9 Make good men, with return of last three, work suddenly (2,3,4,5)
AT ONE FELL SWOOP – ATONE(make good), then FELLOWS(men) with the last three letters reversed, OP(work). My pick for clue of the day – that is some lovely wordplay
16 Unreported impact of success with career (3-3-3)
HIT-AND-RUN – HIT(success) AND(with) RUN(career)
17 New programmes supporting school spirit (8)
SCHNAPPS – N(new), APPS(programmes, particularly on your phone), under SCH(school)
19 Humour is eluding cast (7)
INDULGE – anagram of ELUDING
21 The New Yorker magazine’s pages originally condemned Lolita? (7)
NYMPHET – anagram of THE and the first letters of New Yorker Magazine Pages
22 Cast wanting week with good crowd (6)
THRONG – TRHOWN(cast) minus W(week) then G(good)
24 Group of players turned against boxing and suchlike (5)
OCTET – TO(against) containing ETC(and suchlike), all reversed

57 comments on “Times 28684 – over 40 feet high, just a little bit shy”

  1. TONIC Isn’t this a triple definition? Mixer/ increasing the vibrancy / first note

  2. Nice blog (maybe a S for U typo at 2d). Nicer puzzle. I liked Torso (among about 23 others). A couple places where ambiguity about, eg, tense (cast = throw or thrown) or case caused me to lose time thinking about the kind of obvious. Thanks setter and ed.

    Also for the IT team – the login worked today after whatever you did. I guess you know that, but still thx.

  3. 18:05
    I biffed 5d and 9d, parsed 5d post-submission, never parsed 9d. Which I biffed as IN ONE FELL SWOOP, only correcting it when I finally got COUP DETAT. It took me a while to remember owls. I liked DISSOLVE.
    On edit: I see we’ve got our 12 hours back.

  4. 7:21. Pretty gentle.
    I think both TONIC (see Kevin’s comment above) and CONCERN are triple definitions. I don’t see how ‘deal with business’ means CONCERN, whereas ‘deal with’ (the plot of the book deals with/concerns the life of such-and-such) and ‘business’ (a going concern) both do.

    1. Agree *concerning* CONCERN. 🙂

      Chambers has:
      2. To have to do with, deal with, have as subject matter

  5. 38 minutes. Not so gentle for me with the main hold-ups being PECULATE and LOUNGER (good clue) which I only knew as “someone who lounges” and not the “extending chair” sense. I wasn’t sure about TONIC but I parsed CONCERN as a triple def. I liked the surface and wordplay for ON THE OTHER HAND.

  6. After a number of early successes in the NW segment when I thought this was going to be easy, I soon slowed to a crawl and then a standstill after which I added occasional words in fits and starts eventually completing the grid in 45 minutes.

    In a number of places I wrote in answers I wasn’t quite sure of. Most of them turned out to be correct, but two that didn’t were IN ONE FELL SWOOP at 9ac and GA??IC at 1ac where I was convinced the clue was a play on Gaelic/Gallic and the answer was one or the other, but it turned out to be neither. The arrival of SEDITIOUS at 3dn eventually put paid to that idea.

    I suspected triple definitions at 7dn and 20ac but was unable to justify more than two in either case. I’ve never seen any spelling other than ‘Nymphette’ for the answer at 21, so that caused confusion for a while.

      1. Nymphet is the spelling in all the archive hits with only one -tte quoted by Tony Sever in one of his TLS blog comments. But nymphette is given as an alternative in Chambers and all the Oxfords.

    1. I had GAELIC pencilled in for 1a, though it was quickly removed when 1d started G-C. In retrospect, and in isolation, I think it’s actually a better clue that way.

  7. After my first run-through yielded not much I was pleasantly surprised to clock 34.02, achieved by much fortuitous biffing. To explain most of them post-solve – including the remarkable AT ONE FELL SWOOP – I required George’s enlightening blog. LOsI were in the NW, POLISH, PECULATE and SEDITIOUS. A fun and challenging puzzle.

  8. I see that I was not alone in thinking much more readily of *IN* ONE FELL SWOOP.
    LOI was POLISH, couldn’t see until the crossers were in.
    I could tell that this was much easier than my plodding progress at the end of a long day at the office (my weekly visit there) would have indicated to an observer. A very enjoyable plod, though, with these clues.
    Agree about TONIC and CONCERN being triples.
    Nice that we have our 12-hour editing window again.
    I think the poor Lolita was a “nymphet” only in the demented imagination of Humbert Humbert—another reason for the question mark, perhaps?


  10. Many solved during the first pass, including all the multiple word clues, which is unusual for me so I got a bit excited! Then struggled with the left hand side, esp the SW corner. HIDEOUS took a while to work out as did OWLET (good use of “Member of Parliament” though!) and only then got THRONG. Seems I’m not very good at letter-removal clues. .. In the end an average sub 30 mins, just.
    NHO PECULATE but found by wordplay (I remember church plates and the panic caused in our household when they introduced numbered envelopes for the collection!).
    Enjoyed OWLET, HANGMAN
    and NYMPHET.
    Thanks GLH and setter

  11. 20’53”, with LHS causing most difficulty. I agree that there are two triple definitions in TONIC and CONCERN. LOI was POLISH, a somewhat feeble clue I thought. AT ONE FELL SWOOP is from the Scottish play and went in without hesitation once I had a few crossers.

    Thanks george and setter.

  12. 27 minutes with LOI the unknown EJECTA after a full and frank exchange of views with myself about my originally biffed EJECTS. I think I’ve always said IN ONE FELL SWOOP, imagining the derivation to be from the sad end of a pigeon at the claws of a hawk. I gather both expressions are in use. Whatever, it was a great clue. I’m making TORSO COD though, as it tickled me, as did HANGMAN. Very enjoyable puzzle. Thank you George and setter.

  13. Some superb definitions and outstanding wordplay in this elegant piece which finally yielded in 38:28. Hats off to AT ONE FELL SWOOP and ‘really not fair’ in particular. I too agree about the two triple definitions. Thanks stylish setter and worthy blogger.

  14. 39m 52s
    A good puzzle in my view.
    I like ‘it’ = The other’.
    I’ll line up with those who say CONCERN is a triple definition. That’s certainly how I saw it.
    SCHNAPPS must be one of the longer words with only one vowel in it.

      1. Perhaps more to the point, ‘strengths’ has 6 consonants (sounds, not letters) around one vowel, while ‘schnapps’ only has 4.

  15. DNF, and another of my all-too-frequent visits to OWL (One Wrong Letter) club. This time it was ‘nymphit’ – I didn’t see that it was an anagram, and thought ‘condemned’ could mean ‘hit’ after all the initials.

    Not too tricky otherwise, though I had to hope that PECULATE was right as I’d forgotten the ecu coin and I didn’t parse LOUNGER or OCTET. Like others above, I’m more familiar with *IN* ONE FELL SWOOP, but the cluing made it clear.

    Thanks setter and blogger.


  16. 20:46. What a difference a day makes! Having raced through yesterday’s I waded through this one as if it was treacle, getting stuck in the end in the NW corner until I eventually saw POLISH which gave me the P for PECULATE to finish. Nice crossword – I just wasn’t in tune with the setter. COD to LOUNGER for the PDM. Thanks George and setter.

  17. Dunce, then, wherever I may be
    Can’t see why so many thought it was IN ONE FELL SWOOP: it’s one of the phrases for which, like it or not, we’re indebted to the Bard, in this case the Scottish play, where it’s definitely AT.
    And I oddly find myself rather out of step on this one, not liking it very much and glad it wasn’t my turn. Couldn’t parse P-ECU-LATE, thought LOUNGER was a feeble CD, and didn’t make the connection between “it” and THE OTHER. I’d also probably have confused the TES and the TLS in my remarks. So if I had blogged, there may well have been a lot of E&OE, and George is to be congratulated both for completing in less than a third of my 23.15 and for sublimely skating over my failures.
    Did like (once I remembered what a parliament is) OWLET and the crossing OCTET for using ETC as a filler. Many people, not here of course, would have wondered why it wasn’t ECT (See Facebook, X ect).

      1. My first thought was “by one’s own petard” but I see “with
        his own petard” is what Hamlet said.

  18. 11:19, pleasant and steady. Only delay was working out the structure of 21dn (which struck me as a touch inelegant) to arrive at NYMPHET, which seemed to be the right word, instead of NYMPHIT or something equally wrong.

  19. 26:35
    I really enjoyed this, though I seem to have found it tougher than some. Lovely wordplay; I thought OWLET, HIDEOUS,TORSO and LOUNGER were all excellent with POLISH and PECULATE the last to go in. I always assumed it was Nymphette and AT one fell swoop, but there you go.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

  20. Excellent puzzle. Approx 30 m.
    FOI PECULATE (a “write-in”, which boded well for a better time than I eventually made). LOI 5 dn.
    COD OWLET. Just brilliant. Closely followed by HIDEOUS, and OCTET (though I had to work at it to see why). Considered NONET but clearly wrong.

  21. Clearly I am alone in thinking 1ac might be ‘patois’ as it is a word of French origin but used as ‘low’ speech in other languages. But I was not convinced, and then the crossers gave me the correct answer.
    I found this harder than many of you, also falling into the (unparsable) ‘in one fell swoop’ trap for a while. I haven’t commented here for some time but this fine crossword is my daily morning pleasure and I always look at the site. Thank you all setters and erudite bloggers.

    1. No! I put this in tentatively, meaning to justify it later, but thinking much along the same lines.
      It rather spoilt my ‘final furlong’.

  22. I laboured long and hard to achieve absolutely nothing in the West, except a biffed and wrong PARDON for 1a. Having completed the whole of the East I was unsure about most of my answers.
    Not sure why I persevered but came here to find POLISH for 1a and AT ONE FELL SWOOP for 9d, and then struggled mightily with these to finally complete the West.
    I didn’t like it, although I see lots of you did.

  23. Really struggling this week, and this was no exception. Felt like banging my head against a wall, and after an hour I had to resort to aids for the last two UNITES and POLISH, which seems to me deeply unhelpful as a clue. I mean, what does ‘often assumed to be’ add to the story here? I get the double ref, obv, I just don’t see how you were supposed to see it from the clueing. Maybe I’m just being ineffably dim.

    1. If you’re being dim, then so am I.

      I agree, it’s a poor clue out of place in an otherwise unusually elegant crossword.

  24. 20:10. Nothing stood out – a decent and very workmanlike puzzle. Only dither was at NYMPHET where I contemplated the possibility of HET as some obscure/obsolete/dialect word for condemned. The real parsing was somewhat messier, I thought.

  25. AT not in for the fell swoop always seems right. Must have it at the back of my mind. I think that TONIC could be parsed as either a double or as a triple definition, both quite OK, but like others but not our blogger, that CONCERN has to be a triple. Surely you can’t equate ‘Deal with business’ to CONCERN? It makes far better sense as Deal with/business/matter. And although I took nearly ten times as long as our blogger on this crossword (59 minutes) so you’d think he’d be wiser in this matter, I’m sure this was what the setter intended. A very nice crossword, whose secrets slowly but steadily revealed themselves. No aids for once, but I put in OWNERSHIP without seeing how owners were people who allow, but I suppose it’s OK in that they admit.

    Ah, I see the avatar’s back, not that it matters. It had disappeared, but my recent login must have done it. Still don’t see why it’s necessary to do so.

  26. 24 mins. Pretty straightforward with one or two MERs. Particularly liked the new member of parliament.

  27. I found this to be a crossword of two halves. The right hand side went in easily enough but the left side delayed me quite a bit. One I had solved LIGHTEN however, it started a chain reaction of answers, culminating in my LOIs 1ac and 1dn. I eventually crossed the line in 43.12, and was pleased to find I was just under target.

  28. I found this harder than many above. Most of my early entries were downs. TONIC was my LOI, possible only after I got SCHNAPPS, and even then I didn’t understand most of the clue.
    40 minutes.

  29. Steady jog, same pace till the end, average time. Liked the new MP, also it/the other in that innocent context, also the ‘make good men’ ploy; but not being reminded of a literary pet hate. An unpleasant novel, ‘Lolita’; so many were gushing about it when I went to college, a few years after it was published, and I’ve never really known why.

  30. 6m 52s for one of the best puzzles I can remember. Held up towards the end by trying to parse PECULATE, as I wasn’t confident enough on the meaning to biff it.

    Of many lovely clues, LOUNGER is my COD.

  31. My COUP D’ETAT was held up by IN ONE FELL SWOOP. TORSO was FOI. PECULATE, LOUNGER and POLISH brought things to a conclusion. ON THE OTHER HAND was a useful early entry. CORNICHE was a gimme, now ingrained from previous puzzles. Liked GREAT APE and HIDEOUS. 28:04. Thanks setter and George.

  32. 33:47

    While I finished within my target of 37m for a Snitch of 94, I wasn’t sure that this was a particularly smooth ride. I had question marks against TONIC and CONCERN (notably, being the two possible triple-def answers) – their parsing didn’t seem to be exact enough – and the NHO EJECTA (though it parsed OK).

    PECULATE was conjured up from nothing – lucky my parents forced my siblings and me to go to church or I might have seriously struggled there, its entry opening up the NW corner, with POLISH and LIGHTEN quickly following before LOI SEDITIOUS.

    Just for the record, I too am more familiar with IN rather than AT ONE FELL SWOOP, but then again, school Macbeth was around 45 years ago! I did like OWLET and OCTET.

    Thanks setter and G

  33. I probably shouldn’t have bothered today. I completed the entire right half of the puzzle in around 5 minutes, but had only two answers (plus the DIS of 18A) on the left. From there it was like swimming uphill through treacle as no pennies dropped for ages, and then only singly. It was just me – for example, my LOI HIDEOUS was eventually biffed in desperation, but most days I’d have seen it much quicker. I was also ages seeing OWLET and COUP D’ETAT. I struggled with the QC today too, so I’m putting it all down to some sort of (hopefully temporary) brain fade.

    TIME 13:28

  34. 29’35”
    Good early pace, caught a bit flat-footed finally furlong.
    Hampered slightly by patois, but I was delighted to finish in under 30′ with all parsed en route and only nymphet semi-biffed.
    How many times have I fallen for the polish/polish gag, I wonder?
    Lovely puzzle; thanks George and compliments to the setter.

  35. What, all my pretty chickens and their dam, at one fell swoop? Got to say this took me quite a lot of swoops, not to say small stumbles.

    Re the Schnapps/ strengths thing, you may allow me to observe, as an occasional teacher of foreign students, that pronunciation of consonant clusters in English can pose problems. Try teaching, “that’s the sixth thing”, and you’ll see what I mean.

  36. 24.41 with a lot of time spent in the NW corner. Took me ages to work out at one fell swoop which is ironic I suppose. Good workout so thanks setter and blogger.

  37. I thought the definitions for POLISH and LOUNGER were a bit weak and slightly spoiled an otherwise good puzzle. OWLET made me smile and happy to be introduced to PECULATE. Thanks for the blog!

  38. Like many others, the RH side went in quickly enough (apart from EJECTA, NHO, and SCHNAPPS, – must try to remember that ‘programmes=apps’!). But the LHS was quite resistant, apart from LOUNGER ( very good clue), COUP D’ÉTAT ( easy anagram), the long 9d and OWLET (another winner). Soon others started to emerge, with only POLISH (hmm) and PECULATE (NHO) unsolved. Really liked OWLET, DISSOLVE and INDULGE. A first-class puzzle all round.

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