Times Cryptic 28748


Solving time: 43 minutes. The bottom half flew in but I struggled in the top half until CREATURE OF HABIT came suddenly to mind.

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 Spouse in extremis — case for narcotic? (8)
S{pous}E [in extremis], DATIVE (case)
5 Killer getting rid of poet’s wife (6)
{w}HITMAN (poet) [getting rid of …. wife]
10 One stuck in a rut — a monk perhaps? (8,2,5)
Monks as members of religious orders wear habits. Monks can also be various types of animal whose form resembles the cowled figure of a monk.
11 Example of classic tale ending too soon, in my opinion (7)
EPI{c} (classic tale) [ending too soon], TO ME (in my opinion)
12 Vagrant unsettled briefly among CID (7)
Anagram [unsettled] of AMON{g} [briefly] CID
13 With no guarantee of noticing singer’s back in race (8)
BASS (singer) reversed [back] contained by [in] MILE (race)
15 Calls for new copper to confiscate drugs (5)
N (new) + DS (copper – Detective Sergeant) containing [to confiscate] E + E (drugs)
18 After rout, oddly joke about approach (3-2)
R{o}U{t} [oddly], then PUN (joke) reversed [about]
20 Ready for romantic encounter now? (2-2-4)
UP TO (ready for), DATE (romantic encounter)
23 Stupidly elope with two females making you strip (4,3)
Anagram [stupidly] of ELOPE,  then F+F (two females)
25 Beware of Caligula — he’s a brute (7)
CAVE (beware) [of Caligula  – i.e. in Latin], MAN (he). ‘Cave’ came into English usage in expressions such as ‘Cave canem’ (Beware of the dog) which at one time used to be posted on front garden gates. A version of it is also in ‘Caveat emptor’ (Let the buyer beware).
26 Chancy affair where spinning round might get you shot? (7,8)
Cryptic definition
27 Surgery on Barbie maybe helping? (6)
DOLL (Barbie maybe), OP (surgery)
28 One arriving at altar as planned (8)
Couples engaged to be married might refer to each other as their ‘intended’.
1 Victim needing help, according to the announcer (6)
Sounds like [according to the announcer] “succour” (help). ‘Succour’ is help provided in time of need but I’m not quite sure how ‘needing’ fits into the clue other than perhaps as a linking word that adds to the surface reading.
2 Indicate one can become a medical practitioner (9)
Anagram [can become] of INDICATE I (one)
3 Parades one’s needlework perhaps (7)
A straight definition and a cryptic hint
4 Vicar up against ecclesiastical head’s pizzazz (5)
REV (vicar) reversed [up], V (against – versus), E{cclesiastical} [head]
6 Animal smell a local possesses (7)
INN (local) contains [possesses] HUM (smell) + A
7 Times making retraction in absurd admission of error (2,3)
BY (times) reversed [making retraction] contained by [in] MAD (absurd). Ghastly expression dating from the late 1980s apparently.
8 School returning suit — is there money in it? (8)
ETON (school – yes I know …) reversed [returning] CASE (legal suit)
9 Gloomy academic, exhausted, drinking whiskey (8)
DON (academic) + BEAT (exhausted) containing [drinking] W (whiskey – NATO alphabet)
14 Attempting to deceive FBI, flung out (8)
Anagram [out] of FBI FLUNG
16 Did judge set date and time for son to visit? (9)
S (son) contained by [to visit] anagram [set] of DATE TIME
17 Already shaved and dressed? (8)
PRE-PARED (already shaved)
19 Rider favouring face guard almost to the end (7)
PRO (favouring), VISO{r} [face guard] [almost to the end]
21 Hand over power as days unfold (7)
D (days), EVOLVE (unfold)
22 A foreign socialist, reportedly still on the shelf? (6)
UN (a, foreign – French]], then READ sounds like [reportedly] “red” (socialist)
24 Let Liberal moving south stand (5)
LEASE with L (Liberal] moving south becomes EASEL
25 Incompetent monarch changing sides (5)
CROWN (monarch) becomes CLOWN when R (right) changes sides to become L (left)

82 comments on “Times Cryptic 28748”

  1. I also finished in the north east. My favourite CAVE story is the guide the word provides to Latin pronunciation. The old story goes that as Julius Caesar was heading to the senate on that fateful 15th of March, a fig seller cried out ‘Cauneas!’ (Caunean figs), as one does. It may also be understood, at a pinch perhaps, as ‘Think twice about going!’ ‘(‘Cave ne eas’).

    18 mins.

  2. I worked 10 of these—six Acrosses and four Downs, without considering the crossers—while looking at the clues on my screen before setting pen to paper. Those were all in the bottom! The top went a little more slowly, but I got CREATURE OF HABIT as soon as I had the O and the B. I’ll wager we don’t get an easier one this week.

    The word “monkey” has nothing to do with an imagined resemblance to a robed member of an ascetic order but is (Merriam-Webster) « probably of Low German origin; akin to Moneke, name of an ape, probably of Romance origin; akin to Old Spanish mona monkey »; MONK has a separate etymology: « Middle English, from Old English munuc, from Late Latin monachus, from Late Greek monachos, from Greek, adjective, single, from monos single, alone. » However, capuchin monkeys are indeed « so-named because of their cap of crown hair, which resembles the cowl of Capuchin monks. »

  3. 40 mins in two passes, after getting EPITOME, the excellent CREATURE OF HABIT then popped up, before finishing with HITMAN/MY BAD. X for “times” and Odd for “absurd” held me up, along with Cain and Assassin for killers.

    Liked UP TO DATE and CAVE MAN.

  4. This took me longer than it should have, maybe over 25′. At 8d and 9d, I couldn’t get past NOTEBOOK & DOWNCAST, although they had to be wrong. Biffed NEEDS & VERVE. I’m sure we’ve had (W)HITMAN before. Whereas so far as I can recall, DIETICIAN has always hitherto been spelled with a T.

    1. From Wiktionary:
      Noun dietician (plural dieticians)
      Nonstandard spelling of dietitian.
      So that tells us!

  5. 41 minutes with LOI UNREAD, shaking my head at the spelling of DIETITIAN. COD to HITMAN. If we’ve had it before, I’ve forgotten. There’s a member of my local Church who keeps on saying MY BAD, bringing out a deeply unchristian reaction in me. Quite tough, I thought. Thank you Jack and setter.

    1. Yes it is a way of not actually expressing regret for poor judgement or behaviour, nor of promising said behaviour will change.

  6. 47m 49s.
    I liked HITMAN and RUSSIAN ROULETTE but shot myself in the foot in 28ac by putting UNWEDDED.
    If you arrive at the altar as planned, you are as yet not wed!

  7. Over 50′. Not on the wavelength and quite a few from wordplay and crossers requiring explanation here (quite simple explanations in some cases, doh!). CREATURE OF HABIT eventually came after crossers and having spent a long time trying to dredge up medieval monks (Someone of Somewhere). Also unsuccessfully tried to fit IMO into 11ac and Cain into 5ac.
    Agree about “MY BAD”, some new sayings seem to have been around much longer than I think, I seem only to have heard this one in the last 10 yrs or so.

  8. 20’11”, the two long solutions helping me unlock the puzzle after much head scratching.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  9. 9:13. Getting the two long ones fairly quickly gave me plenty of checkers for the downs. No stand out clues for me. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  10. 11:22. I’m sure I have failed with a misspelling of DIETICIAN previously so I was glad the anagram fodder made it clear today. DIETICIAN is how I would usually spell it but I see Chambers has both (though my spellchecker is underlining DIETICIAN). I was held up slightly at the end by the nicely clued HITMAN and NOTECASE. I hesitated over the latter as although it sounded right I wasn’t familiar with the word. The idea of it took me back to the distant days when I used to carry cash (though I’d have used a wallet rather than a notecase)!

  11. 19.50 with a fair bit of time trying to work out needs. Even after reading the explanation, I still think that’s a clunky clue. Never thought of containing and confiscating being synonymous.

    No doubt a kind contributor can put me right. Whatever, dollop compensated for that minor frustration.

  12. 29 minutes, finished in the SE with INTENDED LOI, before that came the Clown and Caveman (which I should have got quicker as what else could the Caligula in the clue be about)
    But no real problems in this one I was tapping in the answers fairly steadily.
    Thanks setter and blogger
    PS @Pootle I always thought wallet and notecase were synonymous?

    1. Not knowing the word I was guessing that a notecase was a slimline wallet just for notes rather than something that also carries cards and maybe coins. I could well be wrong!

  13. Steady solve, no horses unduly frightened.

    “My bad” is a (horrible) Americanism. I suspect “notecase” is too, in the sense of being a wallet.

    1. I’ve never heard “notecase” over here.
      This is my first encounter with the term, as I neglected to mention. Assumed a UK-ism.

    2. Notecase is definitely not American. It smells a little like something plausible which the setter needed to fit the N-T-C-S- crossers. I’m afraid that the US – via prime-time television shows I expect – probably does have to take responisibility for My Bad.

  14. 8:50. I’m having a lot of trouble with the Crossword Club at the moment. Most of the time it’s not accessible at all, and when I eventually manage to get the puzzle up (usually after failing to do so for 10 or 15 minutes) it inevitably glitches when I submit.
    No real problems with the puzzle though. My experience was consistent with others in that the bottom half went in much more quickly than the top. I slowed myself down a bit by putting in DOWNCAST but realised my error fairly quickly.
    It occurred to me that you could quite neatly indicate 10ac by reference to Disney’s Friar Tuck.

    1. Funnily enough I referenced Friar Tuck at the weekend. A friend was talking about a lecherous monk and I made a Spoonerism quip (probably one that wouldn’t make the Times crossword 😉).

    2. You are not alone: I had time this morning to click on the site, go away for a small chore and return to see it finally loading. Submission took a while too. Perhaps the number of users is reaching saturation point.

    3. Do you have another computer you could use? Laptop or something? Only if they both have the same problem, is it anything to do with the website; and I haven’t had any such problems here ..

      1. I have exactly the same problem on my iPad, my iPhone, my personal laptop and my work laptop. The periods when it stops happening and I can access the site are also synchronised across devices.
        Oh, and the problem is also consistent between home WiFi and the mobile network when I’m on the train.

      1. On my iPad I specifically use Safari only for the Crossword Club (vs Chrome for everything else) specifically so that I can clear all browsing data on the regular (like at least weekly) occasions when the site decides to reject me (504 error or whatever it’s called) without losing all my login details for other websites.
        I have never experienced this level of glitchiness on any other website. It’s truly awful.
        This however is a different thing: the site just completely unavailable.

  15. 25 minutes, with the last 10 of those spent staring with increasing frustration at 5a before I finally worked out HITMAN.

    I feel like we’ve had DIETICIAN spelled with a second T rather than a C in the past, but the clue made clear that a C was needed here. NOMADIC went in from the checkers before I parsed it, and I’ll join others here in expressing my dislike of MY BAD as a phrase. No issue with NEEDS for me, as I think we’ve had ‘confiscating’ meaning containing before.

    FOI My bad
    LOI Hitman
    COD Downbeat

  16. 48 mins, and also held up in the NE. HITMAN LOI unparsed (thanks Jack) and DOWNBEAT holding me up.

    I liked the long clues, PEEL OFF and UNREAD. I definitely didn’t like MY BAD. Ghastly expression.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  17. 29:58. I struggled with this. LOI NEEDS which I hadn’t parsed. Nor did I parse 1 across which I eventually got from the definition.


  18. 29:12
    Nice puzzle – a pleasant challenge. ‘My bad’: I don’t mind it, really. The language evolves, innit?
    Thanks, jack

    1. I had a problem with ‘no brainer’ when I first came across it. Not so much a problem of being offended by it (I hate all cliches equally), but because I took it to mean the opposite of what was actually intended.

            1. Thanks for this link. Spouse and I both giggled immoderately. A hard copy graces the fridge door, pending insertion in our ‘fun-e’ folder.

  19. 34:03. first (lower) lower half flew in, then struggled in the top left. unhelpfully, I had put in DOWNCAST rather than DOWNBEAT, which was corrected by MISSABLE. LOI was EASEL, which I hadn’t really been stuck on, just missed completely!

  20. Quite a decent set of clues, I thought, but MY BAD was thinking 11 was EPISODE, realising that the wordplay meant it had to be EPI TO ME, and tapping in EPISODE anyway. Of such thing are bruised shins derived.
    Perhaps I can crave the sympathy of my fellow solvers with a misheard couple of lines from the hymn Christ of the Upward Way…
    …and leap at once with kind and helpful deed,
    to the sure sucker of a soul in need.

  21. Very pleasant solve. LOI was DIETICIAN where I was slow spotting the anagram. Much thanks to the setter and blogger, your work is appreciated.

  22. 09:37, taking special care over DIETICIAN and glad it was an anagram, for reasons already stated. Nice solid puzzle.

  23. About 12 minutes all told which is my quickest in a while, and very much welcome after failing to get the cat yesterday.

    I dont think there was anything too difficult and I maintained a steady pace throughout. The only possible unknown for me was NOTECASE, but the cluing and checkers saw to that.

    An illustration of my cultural reference points is that I got 5A from in-depth knowledge of Breaking Bad rather than poetry. For those interested, I rate the prequel Better Call Saul higher, but both are excellent.

    Overall an enjoyable crossword so thanks to the setter and blogger.

    1. Earlier Better Call Saul is very good, but it loses its way badly as the series progresses, in my opinion.

      Breaking Bad is at its best in season 1, then falls away but not as badly. Also, the innovative ways of topping people keeps you on your toes!

      1. Most people I’ve spoken to have given up on BCS because it is too slow a burn. I enjoyed the whole story arc but I can see where you’re coming from, especially the final series. Also, series 1 of BB has lower production values as it was a bit more shoestring and I think that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

        As a side note I quite often think of the number of clam-shell type burner phones snapped and thrown in the bin during BB. I don’t know why. Criminal types using end-to-end encryption apps on the latest iteration of smart phones wouldn’t quite be as visually satisfying.

        1. Ah, so that’s how the Hezbollah Johnnie in Brussels gets away with calling his girlfriend in the West Bank in a recently viewed episode of ‘Fauda’. This technical stuff is way beyond me.

          The relationship between Walter and Skyler in Season 1 (the disintegration thereof, basically) is what makes it so strong for me. I don’t even notice production values, unless a boom suddenly pops down.

          On the other hand, the relationship between Saul and Whatsherface in BCS’s later seasons (we gave up during the latest) is neither credible nor interesting. Regrettably, it is nonetheless incredibly long.

          As written, she is a loony to stay with him.

        2. Encrypted or not, phones tell where they are now and there is a record of where they’ve been

  24. A steady solve of a well put together puzzle. Very few complaints in the blog about any of the clues or the overall difficulty which is an unusual occurrence.

    There were no stand out clues in my opinion but I liked MY BAD if only because it provides an insight into bloggers’ characters. I was resistant when it first started being used but now say it myself without any irony so I’m with Harmonic Row on this one though clearly in the minority.

    Also liked CAVEMAN if only because it provided some payoff for studying Latin at school for seven years …

    Time taken: 29:44

  25. Unlike some of those who’ve posted, I rather approve of ‘my bad’: it’s pithy and gets the sense across neatly. Yes it does seem to be pretty recent, and that’s why I’d never use the expression myself — far too much of an attempt to be down with the kids. Let them use it to their hearts’ content, I say.

    34 minutes on a crossword that struck me at the time as fairly chewy (now that’s an equally strong candidate for a ghastly word or expression, although again I quite like it) but in retrospect doesn’t seem to be. I was doubful about a DIETICIAN being a medical practitioner, but I suppose so. Couldn’t think what Caligula was doing: ‘cave’ surely doesn’t need its Latin origin signposted.

    1. In my experience kids don’t use the expression – only middle-aged types who could never, let me put it this way, be accused of inverted snobbery.

      Then again, I live in Hong Kong and have lived and worked among locals for 30+ years, so am probably the worst possible judge!

  26. No idea what was going on with HITMAN and CLOWN, both guessed, so thanks for explanation. NHO NOTECASE, but it couldn’t be anything else. I found the rest of this pretty easy, after a slow start.

  27. DNF. NW very hard. Put episode for EPITOME, for no good reason, just lazy.
    Worried a bit about both UP-TO-DATE and INTENDED, but they seem OK in retrospect.
    I don’t like MY BAD either but it fixed C OF HABIT and (w)HITMAN.
    Failed to parse EASEL, so thanks.
    Took a while to see the anagram in DIETICIAN.
    From Wiktionary:
    Noun dietician (plural dieticians)
    Nonstandard spelling of dietitian.
    So that tells us!

  28. 28:42

    Bottom half was easier, though bunging in an unparsed DEVELOP (unfold) from the first three checkers made 28a my LOI once I’d corrected 21d.

    Top half took a bit more work to break into – most of the NE went in, then VERVE, EPITOME, SEDATIVE, DIETICIAN finally giving CREATURE OF HABIT. Was left with 5a which took a little thinking about, and the aforesaid 21d.

  29. 20.20

    I was also a develop to begin with but it didn’t parse and unsurprisingly was wrong.

    I like “my bad” and use it rather more than I would like though not for linguistic reasons!

    Nice puzzle.

  30. After yesterday’s smooth and speedy completion, today felt like hard work, with several unsolved, just not feeling on the wavelength with the setter. CREATURE OF HABIT was my FOI, and I got RUSSIAN ROULETTE quite quickly too, so it shouldn’t have been a problem, but I was left with 28A and 25D, as well as 5A and 8D unsolved, and had to resort to Mr Ego for his ‘database solving’ ie biffing. He got INTENDED straightaway, which immediately showed the obvious CLOWN, and then the other two. I was able to parse HITMAN immediately, and yet was completely unable to solve it from the definition. COD PREPARED.
    PS I also am quite fond of MY BAD, possibly because my son’s generation all use it.

  31. I started with SUCKER, filled the NW corner and made good progress in the NE although 5a and 8d eluded me right to the end. CAVEMAN and CLOWN were slow to arrive. RUSSIAN ROULETTE converted UNSOLD to UNREAD. RUN UP and PREPARED completed the bottom half, then CASE arrived followed by NOTE and HITMAN. 17:41. Thanks setter and Jack.

  32. 24:29 – meatier than it first appeared with rather more than the usual number of definitions that weren’t immediately apparent (to me) even when solved (MISSABLE, NEEDS, NOTECASE etc). All fair in the end.

  33. 18.44, fairly steady and good fun. The SE corner was my slowest; getting over my desire for UNLENT took a bit of time, while CLOWN took longer than it should have. I ended up with quite a few …M_N.

    CAVEMAN was my favourite.

    Thanks both.

  34. All done in 31 minutes over a pint and crisps. Just a couple of MERs over DIETICIAN, which for me (as for Wil Ransome) requires no medical input, and CAVEMAN, where the clueing seemed a bit loose. But otherwise good fun.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  35. I started this week saying this would be the time I stopped making silly mistakes. Two for two on typos so far. Sigh.

    Other than somehow typing HUTMAN, my main issue was biffing DOWNCAST to create a nonsense space where MISSABLE finally slotted home. 13:18 (ish).

    1. The other day I was congratulating myself for having not had any typos for a while. What happened next will amaze you…

  36. By coincidence, yesterday I was solving from Book 26 of The Times Cryptics, so the puzzles appeared in the paper during 2018, and PROVISO was clued as “Condition of hooker with limited protection from sun.”

  37. 9:48 Pleased to (just) break the 10 min barrier with that one. Some very good clues. I’m surprised at some people’s reaction to DIETICIAN, which I’ve always thought was the most usual spelling in the UK. I see that the professionals prefer DIETITIAN, but it’s interesting that both spellings have been in use for around 200 years and that the word is probably modelled on PHYS-ICIAN, so I’m sticking with the C spelling. Or we could go back to calling them DIETETISTS…What’s with all the uxoricide in row 1? Anyway, COD: SEDATIVE

  38. 41.49
    I am away from home and my daily paper delivery so I have just submitted my first ever completed grid on line. I am getting the hang of the format (mostly typing over already completed squares and making some nonsense words then wondering why the grid looked so peculiar) and a bit distracted by my elderly mother’s slightly confused input, but generally feeling like one of the grown ups today.

  39. 35 mins, back to usual sedate form. MY BAD….even as I was solving it I was thinking, “Oh, surely not, no, not the Times crossword too.” Some expressions should really never make it out of the nursery where they originated. It’s a nails-on-blackboard expression for me, like “second of all” and “epicentre” which gets me instantly in touch with all my Meldrewish reactionary instincts. I didn’t bloody believe it.

  40. I had an hour to kill waiting for someone in the car and this made it enjoyable.
    Also liked INTENDED

  41. 36 minutes. I don’t like MY BAD either and had never heard of NOTECASE for a wallet; I look forward to seeing “billfold” one day. I agree with Wil and Ucalegon above re a DIETICIAN as a ‘medical practitioner’ which to me implies a health professional with an MB BS, MB ChB, MD or whatever degree. “Allied health professional” would be more accurate but it’s a bit jargonistic and wouldn’t be as good for the surface.

  42. Nothing that was, on review after solving, difficult, but a number of synonyms and clue construction which tested my sympathy.

  43. 48 minutes, and very slow getting started (RUN-UP my FOI), but then it was a steady if plodding solve until all the blanks were filled in. There were a number of pauses where nothing came to mind, until I did latch on to some of the more intransigeant clues (such as CREATURE OF HABIT and HITMAN) and was able to continue. All in all, I rather enjoyed this, despite MY BAD (which is not really in my vocabulary).

  44. A late comment on the DIETIC/TIAN concern. The clincher, should we need one, would be if there were such a study as dietics, or a derived adjective dietic, which I sort of feel there ought to be. But it’s dietetic and dietetics. Which suggests the student thereof should be a dietetician, and the C would be beyond doubt. I rest my floundering case.

  45. 28’25”
    Steady pace throughout, stayed on well.
    I was fortunate, I think, in solving this from SE to NW.
    Lots to like; thank you setter and Jack.

  46. Really weird, this wavelength thing. Yesterday I hardly entered a clue, and started to think about lowering my standards and attempting easier cryptics for my aging brain; today in comparison I rattled through this , enjoying the ride! Started with, to me, a “no brainer”😎 CREATURE OF HABIT , followed up swiftly with MY BAD (always sounds ridiculous when I say it ) and VERVE. Only NHO was NOTECASE, but had to be, and I stumbled over CAVEMAN, INTENDED and SEDATIVE, my LOI. Clue for DOLLOP was a giggle, as were the clues for UNREAD and UP-TO-DATE. I shall stick to having a go at the TftT for a while longer…

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