Times Cryptic 28076

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 28 minutes with one unchecked letter wrong. Amazingly we have only one single anagram clue! Must surely be a first?

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.


1 Capital worker, one tucking into starchy pudding (8)
ANT (worker) + I (one), contained by [tucking into] SAGO (starchy pudding). I wasn’t sure that ‘sago’ qualifies as a pudding rather than a type of pudding, any more than ‘rice’ would on its own, but Lexico says it’s okay.
5 Quiet girl absorbing a film (6)
P (quiet) + TINA (girl) containing [absorbing] A
9 Legal defendant‘s false statement about femme fatale? (8)
LIE (false statement) containing [about] BELLE (femme fatale). Belle and femme fatale are both used to refer to attractive women but they are not synonymous as a femme fatale would have a reputation for causing problems for anyone who falls under her spell.
10 Treacherous person initially without support (6)
W{ithout) [initially], EASEL (support)
12 Old Italian coins five-eighths of servicemen used (5)
SOLDI{ers} (servicemen) [five-eighths of…]. DNK or had forgotten this word.
13 Spray son parking in heap of snow (9)
S (son), P (parking), IN, DRIFT (heap of snow)
14 Work with potential smoker making ledge above fireplace (12)
CHIMNEY (potential smoker), PIECE (work)
18 Short girl starts to revel in race for water treatment (12)
CHLO{e} (girl) [short], R{evel} + I{n} [starts], NATION (race). It will surely be pointed out that ‘race’ and ‘nation’ are not synonymous but dictionaries have it covered for crossword purposes, e.g. SOED has ‘race’ as a tribe, nation, or people, regarded as of common stock.
21 Gold only found in old lady’s stately tomb (9)
AU (gold) + SOLE (only) contained by [found in] MUM (old lady)
23 Your compiler’s turn to catch a butterfly perhaps (5)
I’M (your compiler’s – is) + GO (turn) containing [to catch] A
24 Set fire to brown coal left unused (6)
{l}IGNITE (brown coal) [left unused]
25 Work together in diplomacy, protecting Queen (8)
IN, TACT (diplomacy) containing [protecting] ER (Queen)
26 Meat traveller brought back in covered basket (6)
HAM (meat), then REP (traveller) reversed [brought back]
27 “Inhabiting the shore”? It sounds like a misprint (8)
Sounds like “literal” [misprint]. This was my one error as I knew the answer but not its spelling, and I put ‘litteral’. SOED has: Of or pertaining to the shore of the sea, a lake, etc.; existing or occurring on or adjacent to the shore. Perhaps the saltwater equivalent of ‘riparian’ which came up very recently?
1 Stir made by platoon leader originally wearing symbol of rank (6)
P{latoon} + L{eader} [originally],  contained by [wearing] SASH (symbol of rank)
2 Marriageable bachelor meeting Greek character on French island (6)
NU (Greek character), B (bachelor), ILE (French island). I didn’t know that ‘nubile’ carried overtones of suitability for marriage.
3 Sick wife lives with male Republican, a malevolent type (3-6)
ILL (sick), W (wife), IS [lives], HE (male), R (Republican)
4 Mechanic from EU country reportedly given a thousand in cash (6,6)
GREASE sounds like [reportedly] “Greece” [EU country], then K (a thousand) contained by [in] MONEY (cash)
6 A male attorney climbing in front (5)
A, HE (male – again so soon!), then DA (attorney) reversed [climbing]
7 Outstanding feature of church fenced in by popular duke (8)
SPIRE (feature of church) contained [fenced in] by IN (popular) + D (duke)
8 In nervous state, having a modest bet (8)
A, FLUTTER (modest bet)
11 Doctor met it in Verdi compositions (12)
Anagram [doctor] of MET IT IN VERDI. Our first and only anagram today! Not that it affects the clue, but I wondered if Verdi actually wrote any divertimenti, and a quick Google revealed that he did. I wasn’t aware of that!
15 Conspicuous source of information, say, taken in at once, almost (9)
MINE (source of information, say) contained by [taken in] PRONT{o} (at once) [almost]
16 Rascally con attracting cry of irritation once (8)
SCAM (con), PISH (cry of irritation once)
17 Sapwood in vessel featuring in book (8)
URN (vessel) contained by [featuring in] ALBUM (book). Unknown to me, and thoughts of ‘laburnum’ which I did know, gave rise to some confusion for a while.
19 Sale in pub invaded by extreme characters first of all (6)
BAR (pub) contained [invaded] by A Z (extreme characters) + A{ll} [first of…]
20 Dockland area with a large entrance (6)
PORT (dockland area), A, L (large)
22 Oddball entering without restraint (5)
Hidden in [entering] {with}OUT RE{straint}. Eccentric, unusual, out-of-the-way.

76 comments on “Times Cryptic 28076”

  1. 10 and a half minutes is pretty much as fast as I go. Found it very easy, even with the unknown ALBURNUM and a couple of other queries. e.g. surely the libeller is the defendent? Also guessed a monkey was £1000, seem to remember monkeys and ponies from Minder back in the 70s. Nubile/celibe are female/male adjectives for unmarried in Italian, so no problem there. LOI outre where I didn’t see the hidden, just BIFD to finish.
    Thanks setter and blogger.
    1. Minder ran from 1979 to 1994, so maybe you only watched the first series!

      I looked it up because I always think of it as an 80s’ child.

    2. A monkey is £500 and a pony is £25.
      I used to put a pony on Desert Orchid and he never let me down.
  2. POI SCAMPISH & LOI ALBURNUM took me some time. NHO ALBURNUM, of course–‘knew’ laburnum but wasn’t sure what it was (ditto for SPINDRIFT). Biffed CHIMNEYPIECE & IMAGO, parsed post-sub. I have a ? at LIBELLEE; both because of the femme fatale point that Jack raises, and because I would have expected the libellee to be the victim not the perpetrator of the libel, hence the plaintiff not the defendant. Jack, shouldn’t “Inhabiting the shore” be underlined?
    1. I was attempting to clarify the meanings of various words associated with libel, but when I found this in SOED I gave up:

      libellee – Law. A person against whom a libel has been filed. Also, a person who is the object of a libel.

      I thought legal terminology was supposed to be precise!

      1. I see that ODE gives as one meaning, “(in admiralty and ecclesiastical law) bring a suit against”, a libel being (in admiralty and etc.) “a plaintiff’s written declaration”. So I suppose in a & e law the libellee is the defendant.
  3. Hard to believe this is on par for many with yesterday’s puzzle. I finished yesterday’s puzzle in 9 minutes, and it was a struggle to not finish this one in nearly 30. I too had to look up LITTORAL (LITTERAL seemed reasonable), so a DNF for me. Plenty of hard ones today.
  4. I think +J may be suffering from growth pains. He’s shooting up so fast there’s going to be the occasional twinge.

    My latter-day normal of 36 minutes for this, as I slip down the SNITCHOMETER, much like England down the Test rankings. Rather enjoyed MAUSOLEUM.

    Edited at 2021-09-07 03:44 am (UTC)

  5. As I solved LITTORAL I thought to myself that the clue was a little unfair for anyone who didn’t know the word or it’s spelling. I wasn’t sure how I knew it so presumed it had come up before, which a quick search confirmed. Last time was 2 years ago, with no prizes for guessing who blogged it, Jack 😉. Elsewhere the other slight hold ups were caused by the commonly unknown ALBURNUM and wondering how to stretch “mantelpiece” to 12 letters.
    1. It doesn’t surprise me in the least because one can’t possibly remember every word one has met before. As it happens, on this occasion I DID remember the word AND its meaning but not the spelling. That wasn’t an issue two years ago as I was working out an anagram of TORTILLA so I didn’t have to pause to think about it.
  6. Well today’s deja vu was so strong
    As familiar clues came along
    We’ve seen WEASEL before
    And IGNITE I’m sure
    I’ve been doing these crosswords too long
  7. Thaw not the frost which binds so dear A head!

    25 mins pre-brekker. An eyebrow flickered at monkey=£1,000 which, of course, was mon(1,000)ey.
    Just managed to dredge up my LOI Littoral.
    Thanks setter and J.

  8. Pleased to complete, taking a good break before the last three in, with SANTIAGO LOI.

    I commented yesterday on the QC blog that CHOPPEE could mean someone who got the chop, So I think LIBELLEE and other EE words might have been top of mind. Don’t get me started on ‘attendee’ though.

    ‘Riparian’ came up in the QC two weeks ago and I noted at the time it’s sister word, ‘littoral’ which I had attempted to biff instead.


    I resolve to start to start using ‘pish’ more often.

    1. Pish may no longer be an exclamation but I hear it fairly often making a comeback as a noun — as in “What a load of pish!”. After pish and gadzooks in recent days, surely zounds is next up?

      I had a fast time for me but a pink square after (I thought) logically entering LIBELLER who surely must be the defendant in any sensible world. But on reading Jack and Kevin above clearly the law is no such place. And it didn’t match the cryptic either.

      Edited at 2021-09-07 07:49 am (UTC)

      1. With all this talk today of changing National Insurance rates, the difference between employer and employee becomes rather important.

        Shockingly, the streetcars in San Francisco have signs saying “8 standees only”.

        1. We’ve had that in the UK for many years, at least in my part of it, and I’m pretty sure its use extends to Transport for London.
          1. When I first came to NYC many years ago I was confused by the signs at bus stops saying “no standing” – how could you wait for the bus without doing so? It took a while before I realized it meant that other vehicles couldn’t park or wait there.
            1. Standing, as I understand it, as opposed to parking, is occupying a space with the motor running. I once got ticketed for it (in SF).
  9. 29 minutes with LOI SPLASH. Both SPINDRIFT and ALBURNUM were unknown but could be constructed, the latter needing the crossers. COD to GREASE MONKEY. Middle of the road puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.
  10. Enjoyed this one. No unknowns bar the sapwood.
    Littoral a familiar word because it is the same in French, but much more common.
    Totally confused about libel now. Will stick to “defamation” in future..
  11. ….for the terminology involved in LIBELLEE. My eyebrow is now back in place.

    I started badly, but then progressed quite well until I was held up for almost 3 minutes at the end by the bloody random girl at 18A, and the NHO ALBURNUM only emerged when she did. The other random female in 5A proved less elusive.

    TIME 11:15

    Edited at 2021-09-07 08:13 am (UTC)

  12. Despite the unimpressive headline numbers, I found this very enjoyable, and it really felt like I was making a decent progress as a solver – not least because I was able to learn from a mistake which previously might have bogged me down.

    FOI SANTIAGO, then biffed STRIPE for 1d, with a slightly queasy feeling of “that doesn’t parse properly”. After working my way around the puzzle at (for me) a pretty decent clip, I was left around 34m with 9a and 12a looking resisting all efforts to solve – and I realised. Took out the erroneous 1d and fixed the NW corner with LOI LIBELLEE (pleased to get that last letter correct through rigorous parsing).

    Also I’m stepping away from dictionary checks of unfamiliar words, trusting the wordplay for ALBURNUM and SOLDI, even doing DIVERTIMENTI with only three checkers in place. Error was a simple typo (BAZARR).

    Anyway, I feel good about this – possibly because I’m really improving, possibly it’s the abstinence from the booze for a few days. Maybe it’s the joie de vivre that sunshine in September brings, but the Jackson 5 warned me about that…
    …don’t blame it on the sunshine!

    Thanks Jack and setter

    1. I’ve done the same thing many a time — put an answer in or just the crossing letters, forgotten it was questionable then came back later and taken it as gospel. I now won’t put in anything I doubt, though I might take a look at it’s crossing letters to see if they could work with other clues before moving on.
    2. “Anyway, I feel good about this – possibly because …”

      Technically, it was The Jacksons who warned you rather than the Jackson 5 – same group, but they were forced to change their name when they left Motown and joined Epic Records.

      Seriously though, I can only suggest you take confidence that you are improving every day, even if / when your finishing time is lower than your previous time or average time, or you DNF … so long as you are learning for next time: in my experience, every attempt counts. (And if you have a dip or a disappointing run, consider it a small luxury to blame it on the boogie, and look forward to applying that learning next time or in due course).

  13. My sense that LIBELEE couldn’t possibly be the tortfeasor was strong enough to obliterate any reference to the wordplay, so I have a pinked R. Otherwise a lot more demanding than yesterday, 18.36.
    If asked, I would have said SPINDRIFT was that lacy stuff that gets put into wedding bouquets, so now I know it isn’t.
    ALBURNUM of course unknown, time spent on varieties of vessel, and the probability that the book was a Biblical one. Welcome the Prophet Album to the canon.
    I entered OUTRE with a shrug, not being able to think of the word ?OUTRE? from which I could take the “restraint” and trusting Jack to make up for my lack. A hidden, eh? Who’d a thunkit?
    PATINA my last in, Tina having gone out for the morning.
  14. Made a mess of this by sticking in “stripe” for 1d which worked except for that unexplained “e” which I chose to ignore to my cost. This made LIBELLEE and SOLIDI impossible and I gave up after an hour. Frustrating but hopefully a lesson learnt to re-think an answer which clearly doesn’t fit the wordplay.
  15. Had the top left done in about two minutes but then slowed right down. On the anagram, I spent too long thinking the answer meant Doctor. NHO alburnum, but the rest posed no real problems. Question for classicists. If the Latin for shore is litus with one t, how come there are two in littoral?
    1. Apparently the double t is a late medieval innovation. As innovations go, it was never going to set the world alight but I suppose people got their kicks in odd ways back then.
  16. 13:56 after making a mess of the grid with a couple of aborted biff attempts. DNK ALBURNUM,and got confused for a while with LABURNUM, like our blogger. LOI PATINA after AFLUTTER (which turned out not to be FLUTTERY).
  17. 42 mins having looked up the NHO ALBURNUM (underlined in red on my iPad so its never heard of it either!). Generally enjoyed this. I liked SCAMPISH and DIVERTIMENTI. I consider myself quite good at solving anags so that’s one reason I struggled a bit today.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

    PS Does anyone know why I keep getting logged out of LJ?

  18. 8:18, only the SW corner with its unknown plant and random girl causing any real problems.
    I’ve checked the whole libel thing in Chambers, and it’s pretty simple. If someone libels you, they are the libeller. You can then libel them for having libelled you, at which point you are the libellant (the one bringing the libel) and the libeller (who committed the libel) is the libellee, i.e. they are being libelled for their libel.
  19. 18:55 but with LITTERAL. WOE is me. Thanks setter and Jack.

    Edited at 2021-09-07 09:43 am (UTC)

  20. After a slow start (only one in — MAUSOLEUM — from the first pass of acrosses), picked up speed around the board. No problem with SOLDI — still used in Italian for money, Mrs H has Italian family.

    SW corner gave me the most trouble, with initially only MAUSOLEUM in place, but spotted HAMPER and OUTRE before a long think about brown coal which eventually dropped into my head, giving in turn SCAMPISH and then CHLORINATION before a final lengthy think about sapwood — never heard of ALBURNUM but nothing is particularly surprising when it is a plant-y word, so bunged it in and submitted.

  21. Zipped through in 15 minutes, only to find one wrong, in haste had put in LIBELLER not libellee. Doh! The rest was Mondayish but fun. Guessed ALBURNUM from the word play.
  22. Nice and steady, although I did look up the unknown ALBURNUM to convince myself, although it couldn’t be anything else. Second day in a row I’ve finished with an unseen hidden.
  23. Flipped a coin between the wordplay and the sense for figuring out who was the plaintiff and who the defendant – and went with the wordplay but I still thing it’s incorrect. Which is very often what results in libel cases as poor old Oscar Wilde found out. 15.16
  24. Nice to see the very fine word SPINDRIFT make a rare appearance among some tricky cluing and vocabulary. Couldn’t parse PROMINENT, wasn’t convinced by LIBELLEE and if I had ever heard of ALBURNUM (a word surely designed by a crossword compiler) I had forgotten it. All done in 28 mins.
  25. 34 minutes with one pink square; another literal in littoral. I struggled with 1dn SPLASH because I had invented MILLI instead of SOLDI for the Italian coins. It does work if you spell militia with two Ls

    Edited at 2021-09-07 11:12 am (UTC)


    All went reasonably well on the RH side of the grid – even recalling LITTORAL deposits from my ‘O’ level geography days! And then I was badly held up, first in the SW, fixating on LABURNUM and struggling with SANTIAGO in the NW. Finally I realised it was ALBURNUM – with that corner tumbled on the hour, so I pushed on and solved the remaining 4 clues in a couple of minutes once 1A came to me. Some satisfaction despite being outside 60 minutes.

    Thank you to jackkt and the setter.

    Edited at 2021-09-07 06:17 pm (UTC)

  27. There’s no confusion, the setter was being quite specific, as he’s fully entitled to be.

    SOED: soldo (pl. soldi) Orig. (now hist.), a former Italian coin and monetary unit worth the twentieth part of a lira.

    If you got to the answer by knowing the word in another context, that’s fair enough, but it doesn’t make the setter wrong.

  28. 18.07. Not off to a very promising start with none of the across clues falling until I hit mausoleum. Thought it was going to be one of those days but fortunately I was able to slowly build from there and get a foothold in the bottom half. Schoolboy latin meant I was not phased by littoral. DNK spindrift or alburnum so word play to the rescue there. The K in money was too clever for me, I was getting ready to complain that a monkey is only £500. Doh! Wasn’t sure that belle meant femme fatale, my preoccupation with that allowed me to gloss over whether it ought more properly to have been libeller. This one provided me with a good workout.
  29. About 35 min in one sitting, unusual for me. Would like to think I’m getting better but I suspect it’s mostly that this was on the easy side. DNK ALBURNUM but word play was clear when I had the other checkers. LITTORAL I recalled from prior crosswords: occasionally things stick in my brain. LOI WEASEL. Thanks to setter and blogger.
  30. Straightforward solve today in about 30 mins, with the same question about LIBELLEE that others have referred to and answered above. For once, I followed the wordplay rather than instinct and was thus rewarded with coconut or cigar according to choice, as the wonderful Bertie Wooster might have it. Knew LITTORAL from somewhere, though without ever knowing its meaning, so that’s two bits of education for me today. I can take tomorrow off therefore: don’t want to risk filling the brain up.
  31. Also none of the dictionaries I’ve looked at recognise it as an English word for money generally. It might mean that in Italian but this isn’t an Italian crossword!
    1. Surely it doesn’t need to refer to money generally in order to fit the clue? I’m pretty sure we’ve seen centimes and pfennigs here in the past without complaint. SOLDI seem like fair game to me.
      1. The point is that SOLDI don’t exist any more, so the ‘old’ is required. The same would go for centimes or pfennigs.
        1. Sorry: I’d misunderstood the point earlier. I think on balance I agree that ‘old’ is necessary here, although I see that there’s another view on that. It could be argued that the monetary units no longer exist – so ‘old money’ is probably necessary – but the coins do still exist, even if only down the back of my sofa, so, for them, ‘old’ could be dispensed with if you interpret that adjective as an indicator of existence rather than age. But here, I fear, I’m getting too pedantic even for me! Suffice to say I think the clue stands up, and I think we’re all agreed on that apart from ‘anon’.
          1. There are unlikely to be any SOLDI down the back of your sofa: they haven’t been used for over 150 years!
        2. I have to disagree slightly as I am always defending the right of setters not to qualify every historical reference as ‘old’ or ‘former’, etc, which can become rather tedious, but if, as here, they choose to do so that’s fine by me. If a word or meaning is designated ‘archaic’ then that’s another matter.

          I would however agree entirely with your earlier comment that there appears to be no justification for SOLDI meaning money in general as suggested by anon.

          1. Here ‘Italian coin’ would suggest something that is still in use, so to me the clue would be a bit unfair without it. I probably wouldn’t get too upset by it though: in my recent experience coins are almost entirely obsolete anyway!
            SOLDI does appear to be a contemporary Italian word for money, and we do get the odd French/Italian/German word but that would be pushing it.
  32. Well it took well over an hour, but I got through it — a good workout for this reasonably-confident-quickie-aspiring 15x15er!
  33. Another putting libeller instead of libellee! The latter a NHO, but that’s no excuse. Alburnum was similarly unknown but fell to careful parsing. 21:38 with one pink.
  34. Got on quite well but slowly with this, over an hour to a technical DNF as could not finish libelle? without help – d,r,e? Lots unparsed, or thought I’d parsed but hadn’t quite, so many thanks to Jack for the blog and clarifications, and to the setter for the amusement. FOI mausoleum, then ignite. Not going so well – only six on first pass, but then they started dropping in. I was another with stripe which I had to erase as it led nowhere. Nice mix of easy clues and those requiring contemplation. Some PDM’s to enjoy. COD spindrift, takes me back to Shetland (where the wind whips up lots of spindrift) spending time looking for otters. Which is easy in Shetland provided you follow the pack drill – keep quiet, keep low, wear khaki, keep still if you see one. Keeping quiet is the most important, for success, and to avoid disturbing the otters. It’s only “it’s” if you mean “it is.” N’importe quoi. GW.
  35. but I cannot find my crossword paper anywhere! I’ve looked in the toilet, under the couch, under the bed, in all the bins, you name it………please!

    So from a poor memory….. time 35 mins…..

    FOI 6dn AHEAD

    LOI 5ac PATINA


    WOD ummm! 11dn DIVERTIMENTI

    Now it will show-up!

    Edited at 2021-09-07 02:51 pm (UTC)

  36. ‘Er indoors had had a bit of a tidy-up and stashed it in the sitting room, where I never do the crossword. We can all relax! Panic over! Back to normal! Meldrew.
  37. Got there, although like many others I just assumed MONKEY was slang for a thousand dollars, and never noticed the K in MONEY bit. Messed up early by biffing STRIPE for 1D (it’s got “stir” in it, and “platoon leader” and it’s a symbol of rank. But later, when I checked, the wordplay doesn’t quite work. So I had to undo that to finish the top left.
  38. It didn’t throw me because mechanic is usually “grease monkey” but I remember from my racing days that a monkey is £500. I was told that a came from the 500 rupee note which featured a monkey on one side
  39. 14:21 late this afternoon. I felt I made heavy work of this. I seem to be going through a phase of getting the wrong end of the stick in what werent difficult clues on several occasions. For example, I convinced myself that 1 d “splash” had to be “stripe” ( not the only one I see) and only saw the light when I solved 12 ac “soldi”.
    NHO 17 d “alburnum” ( nor sapwood for that matter) but once I rejected “laburnum” the answer became clear from the wordplay.
    Lucky to get POI 5 ac “patina” from a spurious bit of parsing — Pat = girl, in = absorbed + “a” which of course leaves “quiet” unaccounted for
    COD 2 d “nubile” — nothing really stood out but an enjoyable puzzle nonetheless.
    Thanks to Jack and setter.
  40. I know it won’t last, but two from two so far this week. I had the pleasure (?) of flying with Air Littoral into Bordeaux in 1991, in the noisiest turbo-prop I have ever sat in — I kept on looking round to see who had a window open… If only the NW corner had been as susceptible to personal experience, with my last three Splash, Nubile and Libellee taking ages to see. Invariant
  41. About 42 minutes, so solved rather ploddingly, but no real problems, despite not knowing what SPINDRIFT or ALBURNUM were and having the same doubts as others about LIBELLEE (but the wordplay was unambiguous). A pleasant but unspectacular puzzle.
  42. Struggled a bit at the end as tired after a busy work day but eked it all out

    Fortunately remembered LITTORAL from a previous puzzle

    LIBELLEE LOI. I wanted to get Lorelei in there especially as I was missing the B checker but the herring was crimson coloured

    Thanks all

  43. I understood the anagram should not be used for foreign words. Only those interested in classical music would know this.harrumph.
    1. There’s no rule, nor even a convention, that foreign words should not be clued by anagrams though it’s true that some solvers think it’s unfair to do so if the word is obscure. However DIVERTIMENTO/I have been part of English vocabulary for hundreds of years (via music, as you have mentioned) so I don’t think they count as ‘foreign’.
    1. I don’t wish to be discourteous as your comment was most likely made in good faith, but when you join in a discussion already containing 74 comments would it not be a good idea to check whether your point has already been made by others? You’re then most welcome to have your say but not in such a way that it appears you think you are raising a point for the first time that everyone else has missed – unless they have of course, but that wouldn’t apply in this instance.

      Edited at 2021-09-10 08:42 am (UTC)

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