Times Cryptic 28340


Solving time: 44 minutes but with one error at 4dn. Whilst solving I seemed to have quite a lot of queries about definitions either of answers  or in wordplay, but when writing the blog I came to terms with all but one of them.


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 Skit’s ending with harebrained nonsense (5)
{ski}T [ending], RASH (harebrained)
4 Assumed name accordingly what Parisian adopted by British provides (9)
SO (accordingly) then QUE (what, Parisian) contained [adopted] by BRIT
9 England without leader? Fear losing leader in the distance (5-4)
{b}LIGHTY (England) [without leader], {f}EAR [losing leader]. ‘Blighty’ is military slang with origins in Urdu.
10 Happens to apply for release (5)
IS (happens), SUE (apply for – e.g. to a court)
11 Inclined to keep mostly dry in short (6)
APT (inclined) containing [to keep] BRU{t} (dry) [mostly]
12 New and revised interpretation of routine output from cyclotron? (8)
N (new), anagram [revised interpretation] of ROUTINE. I’ve no idea of what this is so I won’t attempt to explain further.
14 Force ne’er-do-well to miss second season in America (9)
WA{s}TER (ne’er-do-well) [to miss second], FALL (season in America). ‘Force’ as a waterfall is something I have learned from crosswords.
16 Murderer concealing source of red stones (5)
CAIN (murderer – he slew his brother Abel) containing [concealing] R{ed} [source of…]. A Gaelic word for a pyramid of rough stones raised as a memorial or to mark a path etc (SOED).
17 Article about place recalled antelope (5)
AN (indefinite article) containing [about] LAY (place) all reversed [recalled]. One of many antelopes learned in Crosswordland.
19 Stop fellow about to shake crowded vehicle? (9)
BAN (stop) + DON (fellow) containing [about] WAG (shake). Crowded because the masses jump onto it.
21 Threatening much initially in a Test, but bagging duck (8)
M{uch} [initially], IN, A, TRY (test) containing [bagging] 0 (duck)
22 The writer’s taken aback about good article providing puzzlement (6)
MINE (the writer’s) reversed [taken aback] containing [about] G (good), then A (indefinite article)
25 Element of basic education delivered in spare study (5)
R (element of basic education  – one of  the three R’s) contained by [delivered in] LEAN (spare – thin)
26 Woman’s book followed by celebrity alternative practitioner (9)
HER (woman’s), B (book), A-LIST (celebrity – adjective)
27 Try to read very good writer about football players? (5,4)
SO (very good) + PEN (writer) containing [about] TEAM (football players?). The first piece of wordplay came up in the QC I blogged last week and caused some dissent. I can’t find ‘steam open’ as a lexical term, but even if it is, the definition seems very loose to me.
28 Go into heart of America, spending cents (5)
{c}ENTER (‘heart’ of America – US spelling) [spending cents – c]
1 Be inclined to charge inappropriately? (4,2,9)
I guess this counts as a cryptic definition.  TILT is also clued by ‘be inclined’ although within the phrase it refers to jousting.  The saying comes from a story in Don Quixote and means to attack an imaginary enemy or wrong.
2 A University teacher sacking University forecaster (5)
A, U (university), GUR{u} (teacher) [sacking University – u]
3 Rash man’s stolen stimulant (7)
HOT (stolen), SPUR (stimulant). We’ve had Hotspur quite recently with reference to Henry ‘Harry’ Percy, nicknamed ‘Hotspur’,  who was the son of the Duke of Northumberland and a character in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1, but in more general terms a hotspur is an impetuous or fiery person and that sits well with the definition here.
4 Put an end to   good deal (4)
Two meanings, killed, and a large quantity of something. This was my wrong answer as the curse of the last remaining 4-letter word struck again. After an alphabet trawl I eventually came up with STEM which fits the first part of the clue though not the rest of it, but I still bunged it in and hoped for the best whilst knowing it was unlikely to be correct.
5 Possibly dubious bachelor request left in bottom of file (10)
B (bachelor), ORDER (request), L (left), IN, {fil}E [bottom of…]
6 I had one of the ears of a donkey? (7)
I’D (I had), I (one),  OTIC (of the ears). Another ‘hmm’ at this one but ‘donkey’ can be a synonym for ‘idiot’ so I suppose it’s okay.
7 Serious French article’s circulating, though one line’s missing (9)
UN (French article), ‘S, MIL{l}ING (circulating – milling around) [one line’s missing]
8 Consequence of over-indulgence that could appear in threatening form (3,7,5)
Anagram of [could appear in] THREATENING FORM. It refers to having a hangover.
13 What quartet may do: pub-crawl, imbibing ales, expending energy (6-4)
BAR-HOP (pub crawl) containing [imbibing] BE{e}RS (ales) [expending energy]. ‘Barber shop’ is a style of close harmony singing performed usually by a male quartet. I don’t think ‘hop’ and ‘crawl’ work as synonyms but ‘bar-hop’ and ‘pub-crawl’ might both convey the same idea.
15 School meals leading to transport cost? (5,4)
TRAIN (school), FARE (meals)
18 An opening for me to secure theatre award? It’s just the opposite (7)
AN + M{e} [opening] containing [to secure] TONY (theatre award on Broadway)
20 Decline to come round to arrest impersonator? (7)
WANE (decline) containing [to come round] NAB (arrest). SOED  defines ‘wannabe’ as: an admirer or fan who seeks to emulate a particular celebrity or type, especially in dress or appearance
23 Determination to secure small delivery to mill? (5)
GRIT (determination) containing [to secure] S (small) with reference to the expression ‘grist to the mill’ — something that can be turned to advantage or profit. That’s three clues now involving ‘mill’.
24 Bird not previously observed to soar round river (4)
NEW (not previously observed) reversed [to soar] containing [round] R (river)

54 comments on “Times Cryptic 28340”

  1. 36:20. It strikes me that this was a very well-constructed puzzle. That being said, somehow I didn’t enjoy solving it.

    The BARBER-SHOP clue is excellent — I am a barbershopper (I have never seen it spelled with a hyphen, even in usage from the early 20th century), and it is true that we like drinking almost as much as we like singing.

    1. Chambers printed dictionary has both ‘barber-shop’ and ‘barbershop’ (in that order) but the free online version has only ‘barbershop’, as do both Collins and Lexico. The Shorter Oxford has it only as two words – ‘barber shop’.

      1. Yes, I have seen it in Chambers! But never in actual usage. The enumeration was probably helpful to solvers.

  2. Like our blogger it took me longer than usual, due mostly to words used in a sense just a bit tangential to how I think of them.

  3. 30 minutes. Luckily SLEW jumped out at me as soon as I saw it was a double def, but on another day I could have been stumped. Apart from not knowing AUGUR as a noun or the more general meaning of a HOTSPUR there were few unknown references here, unlike yesterday. I liked the “Don Quixote” clue at 1d and the sort of related ‘of a donkey?’ def at 6d.

    1. That’s a good spot: the ‘donkey’ connection between 1d and 6d. The connected clues I spotted were 1ac and 3d. RASH is in the solution of 1ac while it’s in the clue for 3d.

  4. 55m 31s
    I found this challenging.
    Thank you, Jack, for SOBRIQUET and STEAM OPEN. I agree with you the definition of the latter is somewhat loose. Thanks also for your explanation of Blighty. I never knew where that came from.
    A NEUTRINO in physics is a particular kind of particle that travels at the speed of light. It is also a term coined in the Crossword Club forum a few years ago to describe those solvers who, by whatever underhand means, submit phenomenally fast solving times. One of the prime examples is PONTIUS.
    I liked the double use of ‘rash’: in the solution for 1ac and the clue for 3d.
    A couple of other blind alleys were 9ac and 3d. In 9ac I initially worked on the idea that the first word was (F)RIGHT. That made me want to think the second word was MESS (“England without leader”?)
    In 3d I thought it might be HOTHEAD.
    My first thought about the antelope was ELAND.
    LOI: SLEW. I, too, thought it might be STEM.
    Podium Finishers for the COD award: TILT AT WINDMILLS/BARBER SHOP/WATERFALL.

  5. Slow solve, a wavelength thing, but very enjoyable. Then everything obvious at the end. Had the same MER at crawl/hop, but I think you’ve nailed it with pub-crawl/bar-hop. Quite liked steam open – I no longer get mail, except from estate agents trying to convince me to sell the house.

  6. 25′, but
    I flung in MONITORY at 21ac (it’s actually a word) and once again failed to return to see how it worked, or didn’t. WANNABE took a long time–alphabet trawl didn’t even bother with B. And SLEW took even longer, even though I came up with SLEW earlier. Couldn’t see how it worked because, I finally realized, I was assuming ‘put’ to be present tense. Liked ABRUPT.


      Yes, it is indeed a word! With a meaning not utterly unrelated to the clue…
      Well, now I don’t feel so all alone.

  7. 32 minutes; “stem” was the first word I thought of at 4d, but I think I’ve seen this clue before, which might have helped me keep looking for the more fitting SLEW. Off to a good start with TILT AT WINDMILLS got pretty much just from the hint from 1a that it might start with a “T” I never really lost momentum on this one, though there were a few—like LOI WANNABE—where I had to come back to them later after I’d pondered a while and got some more crossers.

  8. Quality puzzle – took about half an hour. LOI slew. A good challenge.
    Thanks, jack.

  9. Thrice hath this Hotspur, Mars in swathling clothes, ..

    25 mins mid-porridge.
    Wannabe took longest.
    Thanks setter and J.

  10. 51:56 – failed with LOI STEM as my 4d – for quite a while I had SNIP as the solution there – and it works rather well for both of the double-defs. Found most of this fairly straightforward and enjoyable, but 1d and the NW corner proved very sticky – I found myself entering tentative solutions, then back-tracking, multiple times.

    So I was very pleased to make it through, though I did feel pretty queasy about STEM, and it was no surprise to see the Unlucky outcome. I guess SNIP led me to the wrong sort of “good deal” and I never had the necessary tangential thought. Thanks J and setter

  11. 54 mins but… I had SHED. Put an end to (one’s skin maybe?] and a SHED load of money? Oh well, maybe not.

    I found this quite tough with last two in ANTONYM and ABRUPT. STEAM OPEN took a while to see too. I mostly liked BANDWAGON and BARBERSHOP.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

    1. Same here with shed- he shed his smoking habit? would never have got slew!
      I’ll try again tomorrow
      Thanks blogger

  12. 19:58. I’d always taken hare brained to mean stupid so was a little uncertain about TRASH but it seemed clear from the definition. I see now that hare brained can mean stupid or rash. SLEW took a while, with STEM being my first thought. Until I thought of SLEW it hadn’t occurred to me that “Put an end to” could be in the past tense. I finished with WANNABE, which alphabet trawls didn’t help with because of the unusual word form. WA_N_ABE was disregarded as looking nothing like a word. In the end I got there with the parsing though it still took a few seconds to recognise the word.

  13. Enjoyed this one, well-constructed I thought, and fair.
    Surprised about you not knowing what a neutrino is Jack – it’s in the glossary, after all 🙂

    1. I knew ‘our’ NEUTRINO, Jerry, and vaguely that irl it had something to do with science, but I didn’t understand ‘output from Cyclotron’. I also knew that if I tried looking it up and pasted something in somebody with proper knowledge would probably say it was wrong.

  14. 26 min
    Started slowly but picked up speed once I’d solved a few clues
    Got stuck on on 4d for a few mins as I was thinking of a bargain rather than a large amount

  15. 20:40. I enjoyed this. I nearly came a cropper at the start by trying TRIPE for 1A wondering if RIPE had a subsidiary meaning of “harebrained”, but fortunately TRASH came to mind soon enough. I also got stuck trying to make HOTHEAD work for 3D and BOARD FARE for 15D. That was rather too many wrong turnings for one crossword! I was held up a little at the end by my last two, UNSMILING and WANNABE. Lots of nice clues – ANTONYM was my favourite. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  16. 43minutes and without SLEW. I just put in STEM in desperation. I thought a WANNABE was someone who wanted to be famous, not someone who wanted to be someone who was famous. MINATORY was also not on the tip of my tongue even if we have eleven homophones paraded nightly before our eyes on the News. After a sleepless night, I found this tough. Thank you Jack and setter.

  17. A fine and challenging crossword which took almost 25 minutes to crack. Almost nothing on the LHS in early trading, but the RS saved me from staring at a blank grid. THE MORNING AFTER emerged from the unpromising anagrist: I like it when the latter has fewer words than the former! After that, coasted round to open up what had previously been opaque.
    My first shot at SLEW was KILL, until the SOBRIQUET spelling test put an end to that.
    Quality grid, quality blog.

  18. Fine crossword. Liked the long anagram and WANNABE. Was looking to see if Quixotic was about to appear in 4a and 6d. Maybe the setter tried and gave up?

  19. 15:03. I found this pretty challenging, and highly enjoyable. I particularly liked STEAM OPEN: the definition may be loose and you can argue whether the answer is a lexical entity but it’s a familiar enough concept and an original idea. I also liked the definition for BANDWAGON.
    My last in was SLEW, after a few minutes alphabet-trawling and rejecting SHED and STEM.
    8dn reminded me of Sunday evening, which we spent watching Duran Duran in Hyde Park.

  20. My first entry was SPIN for 4d, which delayed LIGHT-YEAR until TRASH and AUGUR appeared near the end of proceedings. STEM was my next thought, but I persisted with an alpha trawl and SLEW materialised as LOI. Earlier SOBRIQUET opened up the RHS, so a bit of SPIN helped there. Liked 1d and 8d. 28:52. Thanks setter and Jack.

  21. No time

    Started this just after midnight but somehow left the clock running when I went to bed so don’t know what my time was.

    I found it quite a slog, never really getting any flow or rhythm.

    Didn’t know the meaning of TILT AT WINDMILLS and MINATORY was a guess based on parsing. ABRUPT and HOTSPUR to finish just before losing the will to live.

  22. A good, fair puzzle, I thought, taking me 32 minutes, had SLEW early on, didn’t notice that THE MORNING AFTER was an anagram, (would have done if was blogging!) ending with WREN and STEAM OPEN. I like to see an antelope clue. Enjoyable test.

  23. Got all the way down to CAIRN before anything registered and thought – oh boy one of those, but then somehow pinged on the wavelength. The sneaky passage of time took me by surprise when I realized just how long the animated character Buzz LIGHT YEAR has been around. Yale has a well-known group of BARBER-SHOP singers called the Whiffenpoofs but there are more like a dozen of them, not a quartet. STEAM OPEN reminded me of a painful episode from my youth. Very good puzzle. 20.53

    1. The Whiffenpoofs are a male a cappella group, but they don’t sing in the barbershop style.

      But barbershop choruses are definitely a thing. When barbershop first began to be organized, there would be local chapters where you would go to meet fellow singers and form quartets. Eventually the chapters did more singing as a group and thus the barbershop chorus was born. Today, it is probably the case that most barbershoppers have only sung in a chorus and never in a quartet, which is a shame, really.

      1. It was my husband who told me they were barbershop Jeremy but you clearly know more than he does on the subject since you are one and he can’t carry a tune!

      2. I know The Whiffenpoof Song with its mawkish lyric, recorded by many an artiste who ought to have known better!

        In researching the blog I came across this in The Oxford Companion to Music which sheds some light on the origins of barber’s shops as centres of musical activity:

        One of the regular haunts of music in the 16th and 17th centuries was the barber’s shop. Here customers awaiting shaving, hair-cutting, blood-letting or tooth-drawing found some simple instrument on which they could strum. The barbers themselves, waiting between customers, took up the instrument and thus came to possess some repute as performers. In English literature of the 16th and 17th centuries allusions to barbers as musicians are numerous. The musical proclivities of barbers ceased in England in the earlier part of the 18th century. The tradition was maintained longer in America where ‘barber‐shop harmony’, implying a rather banal style of close harmony singing, has enjoyed a 20th‐century revival.

        1. Back in the day Homer, Apu, Barney and Principal Skinner formed a tunefully mellow barbershop foursome ,The Be-Sharps.

  24. 46 minutes, with SLEW my LOI as it was for a number of others — those clues where a verb looks as if it’s in the present tense but is actually in the past tense tend to trip me up. I agree with the several doubters of STEAM OPEN: easy enough but the definition is indeed rather loose. Liked ANTONYM.

  25. 10m 32s for a tough puzzle. Some nice stuff here, including a perfect anagram of THE MORNING AFTER, but I do think there were a couple of clues with two equally plausible answers, which ruined the fun a little bit for me: HOTSHOT & COACH FARE both fit the bill, and I confidently entered the former, realising only much later that that’s not what was wanted.

    WREN was the one that took me the longest, as I was sure I was looking for an obsolete word for ‘not’, despite it being unlikely to surface in the daily crossword.

  26. “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want” (Spice Girls : ‘WANNABE’) and that’s some relief from Friday puzzles on a Tuesday. This was a slog with gritted teeth, which I came very close to aborting when it was barely half completed.

    NHO harebrained meaning rash, absolutely no idea about the technicality of NEUTRINOS, and I wandered off in the wrong direction on 4 or 5 clues. I’m just relieved not to see any pink squares.

    FOI TRASH (half expecting to back it out later !)

    LOI SLEW (after an alpha-trawl. I mean, S-E- for Heaven’s sake !)


    TIME 23:41 (my patience threshold is improving – I used to quit at 20 minutes).

  27. A cyclotron produces a beam of charged particles, usually protons, but certainly never uncharged ones like neutrons or neutrinos.

    1. But then the charged particles collide with other particles coming the other way, and produce things like neutrinos? And Higgs’ bosons? And other exotic thingys? I have no idea…

  28. Instead of the accursed WREN
    The alternate could well be “Bren”
    It’s for shooting the setter
    Who should have known better
    So please never do birds again

    1. That definition is valid but the origins of ‘waster’ (cf wastrel) are indisputable and nothing to be irritated about.

  29. 40 mins with a good snore in the middle. After my snooze, everything fell into place which left a very difficult S-E- which could have been anything, so I confess to coming here for the answer. Donkeys seem to be clued for things other than donkeys recently. Agree that WANNABE is not an impersonator, bad def.

    1. I think the dictionary definition of WANNABE quoted in the blog covers ‘impersonator’. Maybe it’s not the definition that some contributors were expecting, but not invalid.

  30. 16:10. Only issue here was inexplicably misreading 23d and thinking I had to put an R into GIST – thus a bit bemused as to how the latter could mean “determination”. Fortunately, the answer was clear, if not the reasoning behind it.

  31. I found this pretty easy, and was all done in about 25 minutes while also making not-very-good coffee in a hotel room coffee machine. I also ended up with SLEW my LOI, but I got the right answer.

  32. A few minutes inside target at 42.05, and would have been a good deal quicker but for spending too long on ne corner. LOI like many before me was 4dn, and finally the penny dropped.

  33. 26.54. I found this quite difficult. Light year seemed to defy all parsing and there was something disheartening about the four letter s*e* at the end. I enjoyed tilt at windmills.

  34. Right off the wavelength here – too ashamed to share my time and/or my ‘cheats’. NHO MINATORY or that sense of HOTSPUR ( I rashly had HOTHEAD), and everything after that crashed. Tomorrow is another day, so they tell me…

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