Times Crossword 25,834 – Divine

Solving Time: 19 mins, a steady solve without ever getting too bogged down. Although I enjoyed this I thought it had one or two rather loose bits that twenty years ago would pass happily but with which we seem less forgiving these days

cd = cryptic definition, dd = double definition, rev = reversed, anagrams are *(–), homophones indicated in “”

ODO means the Oxford Dictionaries Online


1 happen – dd, one relating to the Yorkshire dialect, as any fan of Geoff Boycott will know. Happen they will..
4 flaccid – CALF (leather) rev. + CID (police)
9 lauds – U(niversity) in LADS (youths). Lauds is a divine office, like matins or vespers and all that.
10 apostolic – LOTS (many) + OP (work) in CIA (detective agency), all rev. Leaving aside whether the CIA is a detective agency (isn’t that the FBI?) I wondered for a while if we had a theme developing here, what with 9ac and maybe 26ac
11 fast track – FAST (abstinence) TRACK (course). What helps to provide rapid promotion
12 great – sounds like “grate” (jar)
13 rank – dd.
14 common salt – COMMONS (house of) + ALT (key, down there next to the space bar..).
18 hatchet job – *(BOTH TEACH + J(udge))
20 prop – PRO (for) P (tiny amount), the def. being a rugby reference that I did very much enjoy
23 domed – DO MED, and what the churches mentioned are
24 cowardice – COW (face down) + D(aughter) in A RICE (cereal)
25 marmoreal – ARMOR (US version of armour) in MEAL (dinner). Is that latter a dbe? If so, good for it, I say. Didn’t get in the way at all. Marmoreal just means “like marble.”
26 fatwa – FAT (carrying weight) + W(ith) + A. The enumeration is clearly incorrect.
27 sine die – *(I + DENIES). It is (for example) what legal cases are adjourned for when a resumption is unlikely. Literally “without a day.”
28 nearly – N + EARLY. The def. is “almost,” but otherwise I’m not sure I can quite see how this clue works.


1 hold forth – HOLD (sounds like “holed”) + FORTH, a surprisingly well-known Scottish river, considering it is only a puny 29 miles long
2 poussin – *(SOUP) + SIN (wrong). One of those tiny chicks I always feel guilty about eating (but do, nevertheless)
3 ersatz – hidden in keepERS AT Zoo. The statement is literally true, and ersatz means false (in other words not echt, real)
4 frock – F(ine) + ROCK. I think we all have a few party frocks hidden away, don’t we?
5 Antigone – pro arrived, because anti gone.. geddit? Blow me, you wait for ages and then three come along all at once. Antigone turned up only a week ago, and Sophocles just two days ago in the quick cryptic. I trust that by now we are all fully briefed..
6 caldera – A RED LAC, all rev. A caldera is a bowl shaped volcanic feature
7 ducat – A in DUCT (pipeline). A coin of the realm in Venice, well before the Euro
8 layabout – another clue I can almost follow but not quite. Can one LAY A BOUT? Must be missing something..
15 moonwalk – Yet another I can’t fathom. Is it just me? The moon has gravity, none the worse for being different to the earth’s. It is about 1/6 earth standard, so I suppose the other 5/6 could be described as lacking, by parochial people. And a moonwalk, m’Lud, is a dance move perfected by the popular singing performer, the late Mr Michael Jackson
16 Tipperary – *(REPAY TRIP). Listen to this, it gives a clear idea of the vintage of the song in question..
17 shedload – a dd I suppose, though personally I tend to prefer power companies that add generation capacity when demand is high, rather than shedding load. In case it is an Anglicism, shedload is just a rather common way of saying “lots & lots”
19 tamarin – TAMAR (county boundary, between Cornwall & Devon) + IN (home). Tamarins are sweet little monkeys from S America. Kent has a thriving population of them, albeit in Howletts & Port Lympe zoos
21 roister – *(RIOTERS). Anyone remember Flanders & Swann mentioning “Ralph Roister-Doister?” It’s in here, somewhere
22 trifle – (shif)T + RIFLE
23 demos – D(eparts) + SOME (a few) rev.
24 crepe – CREEP, with the P moved up a 22dn

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

72 comments on “Times Crossword 25,834 – Divine”

  1. Lots not to like here, especially when you have to get the obscure POUSSIN / LAUDS crossers to finish the morning. Jerry’s typo at 20ac (POO for PRO) says it all in my book. Most of the reasons have already been given; esp. the bad enumeration at 26ac.

    Ulaca: maybe your bet will turn up after all! That would be welcome news.

    Edited at 2014-07-09 01:58 am (UTC)

  2. To lay about one is to hit out at. That was the clue I cheated on eventually as I’d completed everything else in 30 minutes but I sat and stared at it blankly for a further 10 before conceding defeat.

    At 15 I’d assumed that a lack of gravity doesn’t necessarily mean a total absence of same, and it’s the reduced pull that gives rise to the effect that’s being mimicked in the dance.


    On the DBE I’m never sure what the “rule” is supposed to be but I certainly try not to worry about them if they are a component part of the clue rather than the main definition. And anyway we have a question mark at 25 for extra cover.

    Edited at 2014-07-09 01:41 am (UTC)

    1. I think the reduced gravity bit is just referring to the other type of MOONWALK (Neil Armstrong rather than Michael Jackson). The dance move in question doesn’t mimic an absence of gravity.
  3. A long, long time for this (more than yesterday’s hour and a half) but at least I have the excuse of getting up in the middle of the night to cheer Germany on.

    A more satisfying solve for me that yesterday’s in the sense that everything needed to go in fully parsed (besides a guess at ‘lac’, which sounds a lot like lacquer anyway). Last in SHEDLOAD.

    At 28a, I think the idea is that EARLY stands for ‘apparently not noon’, with ‘apparently’ understood in its ‘clearly understood’ meaning. The gravity clue owes much to popular use and perception, which is also responsible inter alia for the conflation of imply and infer which cropped up in yesterday’s Quickie.

    Jerry, you have a typo at 20a and the wrong number at 26a.

    Edited at 2014-07-09 01:32 am (UTC)

  4. Interesting to find (in Collins) that the main pronunciation is: ˈflæksɪd.
    I wonder how many English speakers actually say it this way.
    ODO has: ˈflasɪd.

    Edited at 2014-07-09 04:59 am (UTC)

    1. I would prononunce it flaksid, which might be the same as what you wrote, mc. “Floppy” would be more likely still
    2. I pronounce it ‘flaksid’, and am always a bit surprised when people pronounce it ‘flasid’ since I assume they pronounce “accident” ‘aksident’. Is there any other word where “acci” is pronounced ‘asi’ (or “?cci” is pronounced ‘?si’ for that matter)?
      1. Probably just crept in by analogy with placid. I can never recall hearing ‘flaksid’.
    3. Oxford gives both, but ‘flaksid’ is unfortunately dying a death, thanks to panel show hacks using it as a cheap laugh comedy word. ‘Flaksid’ pronunciation uses the same principle that applies to success, access, coccyx and others.
  5. Well, I solved it, though you wouldn’t know from the way I typed CALDERA, giving me 2 errors; but I was over the half-hour anyway, so wotthhell. LOI PROP, finally figuring that ‘hooker’=PRO and P=penny, and not understanding the clue in the slightest. I say, and actually have said, [flaeksid]; the only other word I can think of with CC + front vowel is ‘success’, and so … I was annoyed at ‘lack of gravity’, too, but ‘cakewalk’ wouldn’t work. No real problem with LAUDS/POUSSIN; I’m sure we’ve had the chicken recently, or I wouldn’t have got it. Same for SHEDLOAD. NOT best pleased with the enumeration of FATWA.
  6. I was much better at these things when I was younger. Two days younger.

    Had never heard of LAUDS or SINE DIE, and didn’t know MARMOREAL, so that didn’t help. But I struggled for ages over some more gettable clues such as COWARDICE.

    Little errors like the incorrect enumeration at 26ac tend to dent one’s confidence in the rest of the cluing, but I can’t really use that as an excuse.

    Like the Brazilian defenders, it just wasn’t my day.

  7. 27.27 after a fast start in the opening overs, but having peered at TAMARIN for a while to ascertain what the boundary was, thought ah! Tamar! and spelt it and the monkey with an E. Like others, I also spent time wondering why FATWA was spelt with a gap.
    This made me moody enough to be irritated with one sixth G MOONWALK and tetchy about MARMOREAL – at least the latter had the grace to put in a question mark, which I think does double duty.
    Did anyone else try to make up an anagram of TEACH and JUDGE? just me then.
    There must be a reason why FLACCID is (pace Collins) pronounced with a soft centre.
  8. Poo indeed

    At 28A the idea is N-EARLY with “almost” the definition. I’ve seen it before and didn’t like it then either.

    I await comment from our US friends but to me CIA is not a detective agency. I don’t understand LAYABOUT or MOONWALK (the space module has a lack of gravity – the moon simply has a weaker force than say earth) or SHEDLOAD (the power company generates power – its the National Grid lads who monitor overloads etc)

    And yes, “dinner” is a DBE because breakfast, lunch, supper are all types of meal but in the midst of the rest of it – who cares

    1. Jim, does the fact that the CIA does its share of detecting make it a detect-ive agency? At best it would require the solver to be in a forgiving mood, which most of us apparently aren’t today.
      1. Hi galspray. I’m open to correction later today when the US folk tune in but to me the CIA is all about spooks and spies not detectives. As Jerry says its the FBI that investigates.
        1. Totally agree that they’re not detectives. Just wondering whether the agency could be considered to be “detect-ive” in the same way that the weather bureau is “predict-ive”?
    2. To supply a US comment, the CIA is definitely not a ‘detective agency’, which as Jerry said above would more closely describe the FBI. But as you say Jimbo, in the midst of the rest of it, who cares? At least it wasn’t enumerated as (8,1). Regards.
  9. I note that the treeware copy has no enumeration at all for FATWA. It’s not just the electron pushers, then.
  10. 29:23 … I did notice a few oddities while solving, but none really held me up. ERSATZ, the hidden word, nearly did for me, though.

    Now, SHEDLOAD … Am I right in thinking that this is a particularly weird case of a word being formed through misunderstanding? I’m sure I first heard it on radio travel bulletins, as “Delays on the M4 due to a shed load of ornamental garden gnomes on the carriageway.” I think people heard it and just thought it meant “a lot”.

    Or have I completely made that up?

    1. I had always assumed that ‘shedload’ was just a polite variation on the much more widely used (in Australia at least) ‘sh**load’. Did ‘shedload’ actually come first?
      1. That’s what I don’t know. I think SHEDLOAD is very recent, but I’m happy to be corrected. One for the word detectives (not the CIA, but possibly the NSA, or certainly the OED)
        1. The OED goes with galspray’s euphemism explanation. It’s earliest example is from 1992, which is recent indeed by OED standards. sh*tload they say dates from 1954
          1. I honestly think the OED might have it wrong. The serial users of “shed load on the carriageway” have always been BBC Radio 5 travel announcers. Radio 5 began in 1990. Their travel people still use it constantly. The other day I heard a Radio 5 announcer use both versions, something like “a shed load of chickens on the southbound M6 …. causing a shedload of problems”, in the same bulletin.

            I’ve been spending way too much time thinking about this and have been waiting for it to pop up in The Times!

    2. We had it in the second of the morning session 2013 championship prelims and it did me in. The clue was:
      “A large number fellow would see buried in grave(8)”. Today’s clue was much easier.
  11. I had a pound on Germany to win by 4 clear goals last night, based entirely on my opinion of the Brazilian defence. Turned out I overestimated them.
    1. In the prediction competition I am doing with friends, I was very much the outlier with my pick of a 3-0 German win. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be urging them to ease back a bit on the goals in about the 25th minute…
  12. I meant to comment on that; the clue struck me as odd at the time, but forgot. But indeed, the CIA concentrates on spying, and the odd assassination, and ‘detective agency’ doesn’t really work.
    1. Doesn’t the CIA attempt to discover things, as well as inventing them? I’d have thought there’s some detective work involved there.
        1. However many assets they put on standby, the spooks will never find our Matt.
  13. Presumably a corruption of “shipload”?

    When you think about it SHEDLOAD doesn’t really make any sense. I like Sotira’s explanation and will stick with it no matter what other fancy explanation turns up!

  14. Didn’t particularly enjoy this, for reasons already mentioned, though I was put off from the very beginning by the plethora of question marks in the clues as I feared that it meant a ton of cryptic definitions. Didn’t know LAUDS or SINE DIE.
  15. A testing 22 minutes, with similar quibbles to others. I started out thinking it must be CID in 10ac, then decided that wasn’t really an agency, and we’d just had it in 4ac; only then did I think CIA, even though they aren’t really detectives. And just because errors like the wrong enumeration now seem to happen every week, it doesn’t make them less distracting and annoying. Quite happy with MOONWALK, on the other hand, though perhaps it’s just my lack of scientific background which means I don’t apply the same rigour to such clues.

    I think there were some nice touches to balance the niggles, but when you’ve been set against a puzzle by, say, searching vainly for a non-existent (4,1) answer for 26ac, it does tend to colour your judgement of the whole thing.

  16. 68 min, with much resorting to aids: DROP at 20ac was LOI, after spending several minutes considering possibility of DRIP for the small amount. (Although I’m now aware that in the Times ‘sport’ usually means RU, it never occurs to me consider its jargon otherwise.)
  17. I gave up on this after about 45 minutes with four unsolved. This turned out to be the right move because I had one wrong anyway: MARBOREAL looks like a word meaning ‘like a statue’. ‘Security cover’ is an odd definition for ‘arbour’ but then ‘dance’ is an odd definition for MOONWALK.
    I’m annoyed with myself for some of the ones I didn’t get though, particularly COMMON SALT. It’s a term I’ve never come across before but I had figured out I was looking for a type of salt so I really should have got it.
    All in all I’m feeling a bit like a crossword-solving David Luiz this morning.
    1. Thank you keriothe, I appreciate that. But now I feel guilty for other reasons (see reply to Joe, below).
      1. I don’t think you have any cause to feel guilty: I didn’t read your introduction as negative.
        More generally I don’t think people should hesitate to express negative views. Expressing views is the point of this forum, after all, and if people don’t like something I’d prefer it if they said so. Politely, of course.
  18. 18 minutes here and a niggle-free zone (I solve on paper). Some nice touches, as Tim says. I’m with Ulaca and galspray on detective – just separate it from agency and read as an adjective as defined in Chambers. Also comfortable that lack does not necessarily imply absence and that there are power companies in countries that do not have a National Grid. Some strange ups and downs this week – I took nearly as long as this on Monday. I did think 25ac was a triple DBE because, the meal apart, not all statues are marble and not all things marble are statues, but for me one question mark suffices.

    Edited at 2014-07-09 10:46 am (UTC)

  19. An unpleasant puzzle that I simply cannot be bothered to try and finish. At least the almost daily compiling errors are consistent.
    1. It seems unfair – unpleasant, in fact – to make comments of that kind without trying to justify them in any way. By unpleasant, perhaps you mean “Too hard for me?”

      See Joe’s comment above

      1. Unpleasant in the sense of not pleasing. I was proceeding but without enjoyment. I like to think about the clue and then have what is referred to on the Club site as a ‘doh’ moment. There were very few here, at least to me, and I thought that I could use my time better elsewhere.
  20. Thanks for the F&S clip Jerry. I like the bit where Flanders has Henry VIII addressing the Master of the King’s Revels saying “look, kid… (that was his name, Kydd)”.
  21. Incidentally Jerry, I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating POUSSIN. Anything sold as such is likely to have had a much better life than the average chicken, and not much shorter: the average slaughter age for an eater is 35 days. And compared to a male chick in an egg production plant your POUSSIN is a veritable Methuselah.

    Edited at 2014-07-09 10:24 am (UTC)

  22. 33′. In Kolkata electricity cut-outs are almost always due to “load-shedding” – the English word. Apart from the fatwa enumeration (double) screw-up I liked this and think people are pedantically out of spirit with the intuitive part of the mind that finds equivalents, which is what crosswords are all about. Thus n/early to me is fine, if not to a logician; also moonwalk and all the others (though I wonder about the ‘in store’ for Shylock, and perhaps the CIA though that feels alright). I’m not saying logical rigour doesn’t matter – obviously the key in the piecing together of a word in most cases. But what we solvers breathe has a bit of whimsy drifting through the air as well. – joekobi
    1. Amen to that Joe – your post appeared as I was writing mine. But I didn’t think much of NEARLY.

      Edited at 2014-07-09 10:49 am (UTC)

    2. Joe of course you are quite right. I tried to find the right balance in my introduction – I did say I enjoyed it and tried to imply (not infer) that the loosenesses didn’t bother me unduly; but overall it no doubt came across as negative which is not what I intended. Sorry, setter.
  23. 48 mins, and I thought I was going to have to throw in the towel with four to go. Eventually I got there with COWARDICE, MOONWALK, COMMON SALT and LAYABOUT in that order. I struggled to separate the wordplay from the definition in so many of the clues today, although I may just have been having a bad morning because I initially put in “drop” (tiny amount) at 20ac before I decided its lack of parsability meant it was almost certainly wrong, and I got the correct PROP after a little more thought. I didn’t like 16dn because the surface reading was a bit clunky and “may it come to” isn’t the clearest of anagrinds. I also echo plenty of the other quibbles that some of you have already pointed out. Not my favourite puzzle.
  24. A quick search revealed the following in Act 1, scene iii of ‘The Merchant of Venice’, where ‘store’, according to No Fear Shakespeare, means ‘cash on hand’:

    SHYLOCK I am debating of my present store,
    And, by the near guess of my memory,
    I cannot instantly raise up the gross
    Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?

  25. One of those days when you wonder whether your brain had ever understood the concept of cryptic crossword clues. Staggered to the finish in half an hour, with plenty of Tippex, scribbles on paper and much muttering.
  26. I also was uneasy about some of the loose clues here. I particularly didn’t like ‘these soles’ to indicate ‘crepe’. After 40 minutes I had several gaps, and as it looked as though I wasn’t going to make much further progress, especially with the incorrectly enumerated F_T_/ _, I resorted to an aid.
  27. I was beginning to think I’d lost my touch with cryptic crosswords here – after half an hour had less than half of it finished. FOI ‘poussin’ Resorted to an aid to get ‘marmoreal’ (LOI). No problem with ‘fatwa’ as I solve the paper version (no enumeration at all). Didn’t know the dialect at 1ac, or ‘lauds’ but they were obvious enough once the checkers were in place.
  28. Could dorsetjimbo or jackkt explain to an innocent what this abbreviation means, please?
    1. It stands for Definition By Example and refers to cases where an answer is defined by an example of its type.

      For example, DOG could quite happily serve as a definition for poodle, but POODLE as a definition for dog is a bit loose as all poodles are dogs, but all dogs are not necessarily poodles.

      In cases like this many solvers expect to see the DBE signalled with a “say”, “for one”, “perhaps” or similar or even just a question mark.

  29. I thought I was in trouble when I only got great on my first pass of the acrosses (didn’t that come up “the other way round” the other day?) but the downs were a bit kinder and I eventually plodded home in 23:08.

    I raised a few eyebrows here and there but didn’t get my knickers in a twist over anything in particular. I even let the fatwa go by assuming it wass subject to some strange arabic structure I wasn’t aware of.

    1. I’m trying to imagine how you would get your knickers in a twist by raising your eyebrows. Oh dear, now I’m trying not to imagine how you would get your knickers in a twist by raising your eyebrows.
  30. Ouch. I got bogged down early but persisted until, much like Andy, I had LAYABOUT, MOONWALK, COMMON SALT and COWARDICE left, and they fell one by one. But it took me an hour, and my LOI was PROP, finally remembering the name for another rugby player, after having recognized the proper ‘hooker’ early. A long tough slog. I note Jerry’s comments (and Joe’s) about appreciating the whimsical, but there was too much (to me) of obscurity mixed in to appreciate much today. But at least I persevered and finished. Regards.
  31. It wasn’t your comment I had in mind but rather more curmudgeonly ones, growing more common I fear.
  32. Beaten by MARMORIAL. I bet it was made up on the spur of the moment by some long-dead poet. Not long enough if you ask me.

  33. 18:05 for me, never really finding the setter’s wavelength. 14ac (COMMON SALT), 15dn (MOONWALK), 24ac (COWARDICE) and 8dn (LAYABOUT) held me up badly at the end. I kept trying to make something out of PRONE and/or CORN for 24ac, which didn’t help; and neither did imagining (like you) that the “fight” in 8dn was going to be BOUT.

    However, apart from the dubious CIA = “detective agency”, I’ve absolutely no complaints. Heaven knows what people think is wrong with 28ac (NEARLY).

    Yes, I remember Michael Flanders mentioning Ralph Roister-Doister. I was taken to see At the Drop of a Hat at the Fortune Theatre on my first trip to London in 1958.

  34. Cannot give a time as I broke off to watch the awful World Cup Semi-Final: such a disappointment after the Germany/Brazil match and remembering the earlier Netherlands/Spain contest.
    I was another who did not particularly like this puzzle. While The Times preserves the setter’s anonymity (quite rightly in my view) the cluing reminded me of the style of one of the Grauniad’s compilers whose puzzles often contain clues which, for me, swing between the brilliant and the abysmal.
    Better fare tomorrow, I hope.

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