Times Cryptic 28472


Solving time: 31 minutes

I didn’t find this one hard but there were 5 or 6 words or meanings unknown to me that had to be negotiated to make it to the end without resorting to aids. As always there was a sense of satisfaction in achieving this.

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 Bovine creature following small island bird (9)
BULL (bovine creature), F (following), INCH (small island)
6 Rock a prince found in the Kent area (5)
HAL (prince – Henry V- to- be) contained by [found in] SE (the Kent area – South-East England)
9 Man investing in firm substance for stopping leaks (7)
ALAN (man) contained by [investing in] SET (firm)
10 A disheartened spiritual leader initially serving this scholar (7)
A, RA{b}BI (spiritual leader) [disheartened], S{erving} + T{his} [initially]
11 Giddy gals in yacht abandoning area scornfully (10)
Anagram [giddy] of  GALS IN Y{a}CHT [abandoning area]
12 African country’s evil intent ignored by Anglican church (4)
MALI{ce} (evil intent) [ignored by Anglican church – C of E]
14 Communist, commander without a set of beliefs (5)
CO (commander) containing [without – outside] RED (communist)
15 Showing bitterness, managed business right round America (9)
RAN (managed), CO (business), R (right), O (round), US (America)
16 Patterned carpet unknown in a big church (9)
X (unknown) contained by [in] A + MINSTER (big church). Named after the market town in Devon where it was originally manufactured but now made all around the world. The last time this was rolled out was in a QC in November 2021 but by chance it was mentioned in a comment yesterday when the 15×15 clued another carpet town, Kidderminster.
18 Subject to film? (5)
TO, PIC (film)
20 Colleague removing last of garbage from narrow street (4)
ALL{e}Y (narrow street) [removing last of garbage]
21 Way athlete identifies crested bird (10)
ROAD (way), RUNNER (athlete). Known only from the character in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, so does this count as Ninja Turtling I wonder?
25 A measure is announced for old court sessions (7)
Sounds like [announced] ” a size (measure) is”. Abolished by the Courts Act of 1971.
26 Jumping insect pursuing old sailor (7)
SALT (old sailor), ANT (insect). Didn’t know this one. SOED has it as ‘rare or obsolete’.
27 One who gets by as a horse dealer (5)
Two meanings. Didn’t know the second one.
28 Going round Greek island one sees a lively dance (9)
Anagram [lively] of I (one) SEES A containing [going round] COS (Greek island). I hesitated over the parsing here on two counts. All the usual sources mention that it’s a lively dance so ‘lively’ could have been part of the definition, however that seems to be needed as the anagram indicator so I guess it has to be excluded. My other momentary doubt was that once again we have an indirect anagram as the ‘I’ has to be deduced from ‘one’ and added into the general mix. This is standard stuff in The Guardian but not so for The Times where normal practice would place it inside the anagram by means of a containment indicator. I’m not overly bothered by this, but it’s unusual (though apparently becoming less so), so I am pointing it out.
1 Foundations of army garrisons (5)
Two meanings
2 Shelter, having a smoke in greenery (7)
LEE (shelter) containing [having…in] A + FAG (smoke – cigarette)
3 Display bill: it’s a critical moment (10)
FLASH (display), POINT (bill – headland)
4 Out climbing, finds radioactive element? (5)
NOT IN (out) reversed [climbing]. An alternative name for Radon apparently. Another unknown to me.
5 Prominent performer owned vessel touring East (9)
HAD (owned) containing [touring ] E (East), then LINER (vessel)
6 Behaved disgustingly in petty quarrel! (4)
Two meanings
7 I’m welcomed by a security organisation, being notedly lively (7)
I’M contained [welcomed] by, A + NATO (security organisation). A musical direction from the Italian.
8 Old coach having left area, thus lying outside (9)
EX (old), TR{a}IN (coach) [having left – abandoned – area], SIC (thus)
13 Grating, one obstructing harbour clearances (10)
PORT (harbour), then I (one) contained by [obstructing] CULLS (clearances)
14 Endless opportunity to keep horse and coach (9)
CHANC{e} (opportunity) [endless] containing [to keep] ARAB (horse). An old-fashioned name for a motor coach.
15 Turned up about gold missing from bottom drawer? (9)
RE (about), TROUSSE{au} (bottom drawer) [gold – au – missing]. ‘Trousseau’ and ‘bottom drawer’ are both terms referring to the clothes etc. collected by a bride in preparation for her marriage. ‘Retroussé’ is most commonly used to describe a nose that’s turned up at the tip.
17 Weakling takes full advantage of surgical procedure (7)
MILKS (takes full advantage of), OP (surgical procedure)
19 Indian given injection in quiet place of learning (7)
JAB (injection) contained by [in] P (quiet) + UNI (place of learning)
22 Party in lead is Conservative (5)
Hidden [in] {lea}D IS CO{nservative}
23 Fairly short, though blooming early once! (5)
RATHE{r} (fairly) [short]. Blossoming or ripening early in the season. Another word unknown to me. Some dictionaries classify it as archaic, hence ‘once’ in the clue.
24 Ruler accommodating Zulu in estate, perhaps (4)
Z (Zulu – NATO alphabet) contained by [in] CAR (estate, perhaps)

64 comments on “Times Cryptic 28472”


    Difficulty is definitely dialed up since last week, but this was not frustratingly tough—and educational enough, especially since I didn’t know NITON at all, let alone that it is what people used to call “radon”… when it was hiding in homes across America. (You can change your name, radon, but we still know what you’re putting out…)

    La cours d’assises remains a thing in France, so ASSIZES posed no problem.

    Along with the other carpet -MINSTER town, we also had the other “sort of rock,” as Johninterred put it, SHAKE, yesterday. Weird!

    PUNJABI reminds me (if I needed it) that I got my fifth Covid JAB today—the bivalent booster—as well as a flu shot.

    I thought that I had seen “one” used here to indicate I as part of anagrist before. I’ve seen it, for sure, and don’t know where else that could have been.

    I hear it’s snowing over there…

  2. 34:19

    Cripes, the going got tough down in the East Gippsland corner. Wild guesses / trust the wordplay eventually paid off with SALTANT, RATHE and ECOSSAISE, but only after a lot of head-scratching. NITON was similarly unknown, but entered with a little more confidence.

    Oh well, sometimes you just have to dial back the speed (insert Bazball comments here).

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  3. 29 minutes. SALTANT and RETROUSSÉ went in as barely recognised words of uncertain meaning and RATHE turned out to be forgotten not unknown. The subtleties in the wordplay for ÉCOSSAISE went way over my head. I missed the POINT sense of ‘bill’; as in Portland Bill I suppose.

    Just avoided the “agitato” trap at 7d; sometimes spending the time trying to parse a bunged-in answer does have its rewards.

    1. The sort of girl I like to see
      Smiles down from her great height at me.
      She stands in strong, athletic pose
      And wrinkles her retroussé nose.


      1. Judging by the quality of that poem and the quality of Astro_Nowt’s offerings,
        I think : Astro_Nowt as next Poet Laureate!

  4. 22:55
    Did 10 minutes online, then had to rush off to the hospital (appointment not emergency), where I finished with about 3 hours to spare (the 11:00 appointment became a 2:00 one). The last 7 minutes were devoted to FLASHPOINT, NITON, & SEALANT (where I thought first of SCARLET). NITON isn’t in my ODE, but it is in my English-Japanese dictionary (this has happened several times; thank you, Taishuukan); NHO, of course. I always thought, and evidently correctly, that ‘rather’ comes from RATHE (I’d sooner do x than y); anyway ‘early once’ suggested it to me. And ‘turned up’ suggested RETROUSSE. Didn’t understand bill=point, although we had it at least once.

  5. 37 tricky minutes with LOI the unknown RATHE. I don’t know where ECOSSAISE came from, apart from staring at the letters until it eventually arrived unannounced. I’ve never heard of NITON but the crossers made it likely. And SALTANT was put in with a shrug too, so this contained too many unknowns to be fully enjoyable. Thank you Jack and setter.

  6. 17:47
    It’s like a branch of Carpet World in here at the minute.
    Jack, I seem to recall ‘one = I’ in anagrams from previous crosswords, but don’t quote me on that. I absolutely see your point about indirectness, though.
    NHO Niton or rathe.
    A few words derived from French and Italian – charabanc, retrousse, ecossaise, saltant – which helped me out.
    Thanks, jack.

    1. You may be right about ‘one/I’ but it still puts the clue in indirect anagram territory if only a grey area which some setters, editors and solvers may find acceptable whereas other may not. One situation I have certainly experienced in my years of blogging is where the ‘I’ clued by ‘one’ is the first or last letter of the target word and the remainder is an anagram, and that’s certainly not in breach of any rule or convention so long as ‘one’ is placed appropriately in the clue.

  7. Shale I compare thee to a summer’s day?

    25 mins pre-brekker. Not my cup of tea. Too many unknowns for one crossword.
    Thanks setter and J.

  8. 25:50, held up by unknown words (SALTANT, NITON, RATHE) – although the wordplays were generous enough. Thanks Jack and setter!

  9. Morning, could anyone tell me what the runner’s-up prize for the Sunday cryptic is now please? I’ve been going in for it for years, wanting one of the posh pens, and I don’t know if it’s still that or a book token.

    1. If you print out the crossword, as I do, you see… “A collection of Times reference books — The Times Universal Atlas of the World, Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus, and Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary, published by HarperCollins — will be awarded for the first randomly selected correct solution. The Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus will be awarded for the next three. “

    2. It’s still a pen. A very nice Cross which I won a couple of months ago. Only taken me about 40 years.

        1. That’s a shame . Being of a mercenary nature, I looked up the price and it was £125 at the time!
          Still, it’s the taking part that matters- not😊

  10. 12’23”. Unusual early morning solve for me, and I must have been in form because at one point I thought an under-tenner might be on the cards. Top left slowed me down, and I just had to cross fingers for NITON. What other elements have alternative names? Tungsten and Wolfram? Apart from the cartoons, the only other ROADRUNNER reference I know is the Jonathan Richman song. Many thanks to all.

    1. Top tune! That’s going to be in my head all day now. Going faster miles an hour…..etc etc……

    2. Quicksilver for mercury springs to mind, though it doesn’t explain the Hg, from the Latin hydrargyrum, which I suppose comes to the same thing.

    3. Older readers may recall two more, quite different, ROADRUNNERs, by Bo Diddley and Junior Walker and the All Stars.

  11. DNF. Eventually gave up on the SE corner with its mix of foreign and archaic words which are unknown to everyone except crossword setters and solvers. It feels like the setter couldn’t be bothered to find words used by real English speakers to finish the grid, which is a shame because I really enjoyed about 87% of it!

    1. I agree. Archaic and obscure are the last refuge of the unimaginative setter. It’s not as if the solver learns anything from it either. If they did there would at least be a smidgeon of merit in it. As it is, it simply becomes an esoteric intellectual chore with no redeeming value.

  12. You know it will be a bad day
    When you write in BULLFINCH straight away
    It doesn’t get funner
    To discover ROADRUNNER.

  13. Steady solve, but two answers in solely on wordplay – RATHE, NITON.

    20’07”, thanks jack and setter.

  14. 16:13. Badly held up by the unknowns. In particular I had RADON for 4D (what other element of 5 letters ending in N is radioactive?). An obsolete definition like that should, IMO, be clued as such – it was called Radon when I learnt the atomic elements over 50 years ago. Other unknowns were RATHE and the other meaning of COPER. LOI ARABIST, where I stared at _A(_)_I for some time before seeing RABBI. I had to laugh at SHALE for “rock” which I had tried yesterday instead of SHAKE for “rock”. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  15. 26 minutes or so. SALTANT was an unknown, but I was helped by knowing that ‘saltar’ is the Spanish verb to jump so it seemed likely to be right. I needed to figure out ECOSSAISE in order to get RETROUSSE – until then I thought with ‘turned up’ as the definition it was likely to end in D. Other unknowns were RATHE and the horse dealer meaning of COPER, but with the checkers they couldn’t realistically be anything else.

    FOI Bases
    LOI Arabist
    COD Bullfinch

  16. 15:18. I found this difficult and I didn’t like it much. Too many obscurities including the dreaded double in RETROUSSE. Obsolete words like RATHE and NITON should be avoided in these puzzles IMO, and it looks like the setter just didn’t want to go back and rework other clues when they turned out to be the only options left from the checkers.

  17. I was delighted to finish in 7:50, but purely for my own satisfaction as I typo’d “millsop” 🙄

  18. 10:08, including several which were constructed mostly from wordplay, though at least one of these (RATHE) definitely felt as if it might ring a bell from being on my ever-increasing but only intermittently-updated list of interesting words to be noted for future reference. The list is useful, then, even if it usually just reminds me that there are some words which I confidently announce I’ve never heard of every two or three years.

  19. I thought this was pretty easy as I was familiar with all the unusual words apart from RATHE and the second meaning of COPER. As the wordplay for the first, and the first meaning for the second were straightforward they didn’t present any problem. For some time I was entering an answer as soon as I read the clue. I wasted some time trying to justify AGITATO for 7d, and I was stuck for a while at the end on 3d.
    23 minutes.

    1. I thought not of Bo Diddley, but of Junior Walker & the Allstars. Not to mention the ingenious cartoons. Meep meep !

  20. 8:26 I’ve figured out that I do better on the ones with obscure vocab, possibly due to being both a smug Classicist and a Scrabbler, though I confess to never having come across NITON before. I knew SALTANT from heraldry (just take the French word and add -ANT, works every time!). I biffed rathe a lot today but that was very enjoyable. Thanks setter.

  21. The same feelings as most: there were lots of strange words here and I entered them in the hope, based on wordplay. SALTANT I reckoned might well be heraldry, although dictionaries differ as to the importance of that. RATHE I’m sure I’ve come across in Azed; and that’s the place for it, not here. 23 minutes.

  22. Another who was unfamiliar with NITON, RATHE, second meaning of COPER and SALTANT. However I managed to derive them eventually and still finished in a decent time (for me). SCATHINGLY was FOI. ECOSSAISE and RETROUSSE finished the job. 21:35. Thanks setter and Jack.

  23. 21ish

    -ish because I had problems on the Club Site so had to start again and finish on the Puzzle page.

    The dance and RATHE also the last two in. Sort of knew what I was trying to get to with the dance (very very vague bells) but the latter a stone cold unknown needing all the checkers.

    Plenty to like but do tend to agree with Keriothe

    Thanks all

  24. 13:49. The same unknowns as others – NITON and RATHE in particular – but I don’t dislike the occasional generously clued obscurity, though I’d like them a lot more if I thought I had any prospect of remembering them.

  25. I found this one tough going, taking over 10 minutes and even making a meal of DISCO. A careless error at 1d, with BASIS instead of BASES, meant it was all for naught anyway.

  26. Foxed by 1d BASES and stupidly gave up with an unparseable BASIS having missed the plural.
    Loved Astro_nowt’s limerick.
    Thought there were too many obsolete/rare words; OK if they should be considered for resurrection, but NITON can die as far as I care, we have the perfectly OK Radon. Rathe was an interesting wierdo and the def in the clue was eerily like the dictionary def. But still MER. Saltant – useful in that I challenged my Mexican son-in-law to find a Spanish word without an English import. He never did, but could if he tried.

  27. DNF – struggled with this today, not experienced enough yet to have that many relative unknowns (for me) at my fingertips – RATHE, ECOSSAISE, SALTANT etc and think it led to a lack of confidence elsewhere. Wasn’t helped by putting in CHASTINGLY and even struggled with BULLFINCH.


    Thanks J and setter

  28. 25 mins but had to guess with saltant, niton, rathe and I have to admit sealant where I only saw Al and thought seant must be another word for firm. Still, it’s the result that counts.

    Expecting to see Wilton tomorrow in the answers to keep up the series.

    Nice puzzle, thanks setter and blogger.

  29. 36 mins. Harder than any of last week’s. My bete noir was ARABIST, I thought about most religions but forgot about Judaism. Lucky that I biffed ECOSSAISE because I’m not sure I’d have got it otherwise, failing to separate lively and dance.

  30. All correct, and like many on here, quite a few words unknown. I should have got 1ac earlier- beautiful birds, but rare these days. Finished in the SE with RATHE, which I think I have seen in AZED. Saltatory conduction is when the electrical impulse jumps down the nerve fibre from one node of Ranvier to another, if my fading neurophysiology knowledge is correct.

  31. 29:42. I normally have a sense that my vocab is a notch below most others on this site, so today I was pleased to see that most of my unknowns turned out to be fairly generally unknown. Despite the obscure words, I think the wordplay gave a reasonable platform to get to the answers. Thanks setter & Jack.

  32. Done in 25 minutes, with a guessed ecossaise and the second meaning of coper. I thought RATHE was a word from jabberwocky, which was once a thing I could recite. Slithy toves and so on.
    I was unimpressed by NITON, which was one of several provisional names for radon between 1912 and 1923 and not afterwards, says Wiki, but with N * T * N, I bunged it in.

  33. 20:47

    Same thoughts as others about the several words in the SE corner – two bunged in with a vague recollection of their existence – RETROUSSÉ and ÉCOSSAISE – nice that both French words connected with the accented E – and two complete unknowns conjured from the cryptic – SALTANT and RATHE.

    Didn’t know NITON either but the parsing was very easy.

  34. Thanks for the explanation of ECOSSAISE which I failed to get.
    I also failed to get NITON, RATHE and SEALANT.

  35. 25 mins before grinding to a halt in the south-east, where RATHE, ECOSSAISE and, most annoyingly, PORTCULLIS all eluded me. So a DNF for me. Thanks to our blogger for the explanations, especially for the lively dance which I couldn’t parse even after revealing the solution.

  36. My comment in yesterdays blog that carpet references were nearly always Axminster or Wilton turned out to be quite prophetic, appearing a little sooner than I might have anticipated!
    Like Jackkt, I found there were a lot of words that I’ve not come across before, but the clueing allowed a solution to be reached ….. with one exception in my case, where 10ac was incorrect by one letter (yet again), where I decided that the scholar was an ADALIST based on a disheartened DAL(A)I, and yes, I know it doesn’t work! My time for this DNF was 38.45.

  37. This puzzle took me literally just under an hour, although actually only RETROUSSE and ECOSSAISE held me up for long, but there were many things I did not enjoy about it. For example, although I was able to decipher the wordplay for those two words after the fact, I had to biff them to find out what the components were; they were a bit obscure or chosen from a vast universe (e.g., Greek islands) . But that is not my only peeve. Most clues were either very easy or completely obscure (like RATHE), and there was not much in between. And of course a composer does have to try out various ways of cluing the words in the grid but then should simply use the BEST one, once, rather than reusing ALL OF THEM for the same word or similar words on successive days, as seems to be happening now. If in the strange selection of clues in this puzzle I had to choose a COD, it would be MILKSOP, which brought a smile, at least.

    I was interrupted shortly before completion by my granddaughter, aged 6, who rang up to ask for help in doing her crosswords. She has just started school in Germany and is learning the alphabet and spelling with the aid of small crosswords where the definitions are pictures, and she is already hooked on them. They are a bit like some Listener crosswords in that there is a keyword spelled out by certain letters in the grid and finding that is the reward for a correct solution. So that was some other crossword fun in the middle of doing this one.

  38. 3 short, COPER NHO of the horse dealer, and many words fitted. Did not see the hidden DISCO and made a mess of MILKSOP. My guesses for the many NHOs mainly panned out (RATHE, NITON and SALTANT), the latter from heraldry, gaah, so many heraldry words to learn.

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