Times Quick Cryptic No 2398 by Hurley

A nice set of clues, pitched on the gentler side of things.

I had a good first pass of the acrosses, only missing out on 10ac, but the downs needed slightly more thought than the merry biff fest I was expecting given all the checkers. Still, completed in 5:34, which is almost as quick as I get.

I count at least 14 charade-type clues (see glossary), but they were very nicely clued in the main so it never felt humdrum. Good little flourishes elsewhere, my favourites being 10ac and 9d. Many thanks to Hurley!

Anagram indicators in italics.

1 A curious crest in New York shows family lineage (8)
ANCESTRY – A, curious CREST in NY
5 Racing driver’s modus operandi’s singular (4)
MOSS – MO (Modus Operandi) ‘S and S(ingular). As in Sterling Moss.
8 Not fitting in pocket? (13)
10 Go into middle of America when leader leaves (5)
ENTER – CENTER (middle, in the US spelling) ditch the leader.
11 Take out former partner — right to fit in diplomacy (7)
EXTRACT – EX (former partner) R(ight) to fit in TACT (diplomacy)
12 Impressive entrance in Southampton, say, by a Liberal (6)
PORTAL – PORT (Southampton, say) by A L(iberal). I was unaware of the generally regarded magnificence of portals, but it’s there as the primary definition in both the dictionaries I checked. One lives and learns.
13 Salesperson with attitude? Remedy found (6)
REPAIR – REP (salesperson) with AIR (attitude). It’s not a hard and fast rule that a definition will come at the very beginning or end: the “found” here should be thought of as like an out-of-place linkword bridging wordplay and definition, as in the “shows” in 1ac.
16 Blackguard, horribly unfair, interrupted by female (7)
RUFFIANhorribly UNFAIR, interrupted by F(emale)
18 Come together from a Church service (5)
AMASS – A, MASS (Church service)
20 Shiny shell layer in redesigned porthole frame (6-2-5)
21 Lecturer, English, finished (4)
DONE – DON (lecturer) E(nglish)
22 One choosing area of economy, the French having been accepted (8)
SELECTOR – SECTOR (area of economy) LE (the, French) accepted
1 Put up with assistant bringing book in (5)
ABIDE – AIDE (assistant) bringing B(ook) in
2 Ship mat (7)
COASTER – double definition
3 Outstandingfunniest or most comical, for example (11)
SUPERLATIVE – double definition: the first as adjective, the second as noun.
4 Start again after closure referring to old writer (6)
REOPEN – RE (referring to) O(ld) PEN (writer)
6 Roam pathway regularly in city (5)
OMAHA – r O a M   p A t H w A y “regularly”
7 Clothing seen in southwest diner (7)
SWEATER – SW (southwest) EATER (diner)
9 Free paper lent to model employee? Far from it! (6,5)
12 Wood pile, never ending, at heart of historic building (7)
PYRAMID – PYRe (wood pile, unending) AMID (at heart)
14 Determined worker following first man (7)
ADAMANT – ANT (worker) following ADAM (first man)
15 Begin so leisurely displaying part of shoe (6)
INSOLE – “displayed” in begIN SO LEisurely
17 Furniture item following upper-class fashion (5)
FUTON – F (following) U (upper-class) TON (fashion). Unadulterated crosswordese, here!
19 Rise high, enthralling learner, using sun’s energy (5)
SOLAR – SOAR (rise high) enthralling L(earner)


72 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2398 by Hurley”

  1. Biffed ROTTEN APPLE & PYRAMID, parsed post-submission. As I’ve said here a couple of times, there’s no rule about where the definition has to go; it’s just very hard not to have it at one end of the clue or the other (or with a double def, both). With REPAIR, the setter could have written “Salesperson with attitude finds remedy”, but didn’t. (Roly, it’s Stirling.) 4:32.

    1. Im not convinced you’re right about that not being a rule. I have heard it described as a rule by multiple sources. Including the gents over at cracking the cryptic on YouTube.

      1. It’s definitely just a convention and not a rule. Don Manley (AKA Izetti here) regularly creates clues with central definitions.

        I think the Cracking the Cryptic chaps probably said something along the lines of the definition almost always being at one end or the other, which is true, as I’d be amazed if they said it was a rule. Mark in particular, with his vast experience, will have encountered a great many clues that buck the convention.

      2. Tim Moore says in his book ‘The Times:How to Solve Cryptic Crosswords’:

        “As you know by now, the definition part of nearly all clues is either at the beginning or end of a clue.”

        He also says,

        “Beginners find it much easier to decode a cryptic clue when they are told that the definition is almost always either at the beginning or end of the clue sentence or phrase.”

        His use of “nearly” and “almost” suggests to me that though it is more likely that the definition is at the start of beginning of the clue, it is not always the case. Immediately the “all-in-one”, or “& lit” type of clue springs to my mind as an example of a clue where the definition is not strictly at the end or beginning, as the whole clue is both definition and indicator.

    2. Re the sterling Stirling:

      Ah yes, of course it is, thanks and well spotted – silly me!

  2. 22:00. PYRAMID as a building wasn’t my first (or second!) thought. I had to get beyond clipper and cruiser to see COASTER. The last part of the clue for SUPERLATIVE had me confused. Also ENTER was put in without understanding parsing. Thanks to blog for explaining those, plus the F for following in FUTON.

  3. Finished at my normal slow pace (30mins+), all correct.
    LOI – MOSS
    I also liked RUFFIAN (because it is the name of my dog, though he only normally responds to RUFF).
    I had the same problems with COASTER and SUPERLATIVE as curryowen.
    Thanks to Roly and setter.

  4. 12 minutes, missing my target 10 for the first time this week, held up by most of the long answers and especially SUPERLATIVES.

    I wouldn’t see the point in editing a clue so as to fit the non-existent rule about the placing of definitions, but having acknowledged that avoiding both the beginning and end is quite difficult perhaps one of the setters who enjoys technical challenges may one day have a go at compiling a puzzle which flouts this unwritten convention in every clue?

  5. Some great clues but I was well off wavelength today crossing the line a shade under 20 to find I’d managed to get two typos into ROTTEN APPLE. So that’s 3 DNFs out of 4 this week, glad there’s a weekend after tomorrow. INAPPROPRIATE and COASTER put but stiff resistent for excellent PDMs.

  6. No real problems here, although I biffed SUPERLATIVE and parsed it immediately on finishing.

    TIME 4:33

  7. 1340 Hundred Years’ War: The temporary Truce of signed between England and France.

    Another of the tamer offerings this week. LOI MOSS, I never realised MO was short for Modus Operandi. Also TON =fashion, what’s that about?

    1. ton (pronounced with a short ‘o’ as in ‘Tom’).
      1 The fashion, the vogue; fashionableness, style. M18.
      2 Fashionable people collectively; the fashionable world. M18.

      It comes up a lot in crosswords. A central theme in Bridgerton for those who watched it.

  8. Found this fairly chewy in places but with the bottom half being a lot easier than the top.
    NHO ‘ton’ for fashion and I couldn’t parse LOI SUPERLATIVE, also had a real struggle with INAPPROPRIATE, ABIDE and COASTER (thinking floor mats).
    Squeezed in under target in 9.22
    Thanks to Roly

  9. Like roly all the acrosses went in first pass except one (in my case MOSS, antique racing drivers not being my thing). Also like roly I then found the downs surprisingly tricky, given that I had almost all the checkers. Even so, had I not had to trawl for the dirty British COASTER, that would have been pretty quick for me.

    Below average at 06:55 for 1.5K and an Excellent Day. COD to FUTON, which is a lovely clue.

    Many thanks Hurley and roly.


        1. Templar and Merlin – I believe you’ve miscounted!
          Ship quart of fortified port, losing a hundred soldiers (11)

          1. I think we need to submit our parsings (this clue-writing business is hard).

            Warship QUE (“that” in spanish)+ RE (Note) after QUIN (one of five) + ME (ME[N)

            1. If you insist, Merlin, although I think everyone’s gone to bed!

              QU = quart
              (c)INQUE = of fortified port (as in Cinque Ports), losing C (a hundred)
              REME = soldiers

      1. Warship that Spanish note after one of five soldiers lose their name (12)

  10. Another nice one for me, all green this morning in just over 16 in glorious Dorset sunshine. Having had 3 hours sleep after arriving home from holiday at 04:00 I was expecting to struggle, but was pleasantly surprised.
    I guessed at SUPERLATIVE, and still cannot parse it despite Rory’s explanation. I especially liked INAPPROPRIATE, despite trying my hardest to squeeze in ‘misappropriate’, and MOTHER OF PEARL pleased me too. Last one in was PYRAMID.
    Thank you Hurley and Roly.

    1. “Superlative” can be used as an adjective meaning “outstanding” – “That was a superlative performance from Manchester City last night”. So that’s the first part of the clue.

      “Superlative” can also be a noun – “noun, grammar 1 a superlative adjective or adverb. 2 the superlative form of a word” (Chambers). That’s the second part of the clue, which gives two examples of superlatives.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Templar. Sorry to seem a bit dim this morning, I get the first definition, but what’s it got to do with ‘comedy’ or ‘funniest’ specifically?

        1. “Funniest” is a superlative. (Like best, or hardest, or prettiest.)

          “Most comical” is also a superlative, though it’s a phrase rather than a single word.

  11. Inside 12 minutes. I still don’t get SUPERLATIVE, but it had to be. Otherwise, a very nice puzzle. Thanks both.

  12. I agree with Plett11 – this was chewy. Some good clues but quite a testing QC. I finished, all correct but not all fully parsed. It took me nearly 2 mins over target.
    LOI FUTON. It had to be but, like others, I find TON for fashion to be totally outside my experience. I don’t watch Bridgerton. I needed the crossers for SUPERLATIVE which I entered with a shrug; not an impressive clue IMO.
    Thanks to Hurley for a QC that included many very fine clues and to Roly for a good blog which I will now read properly (and finish the odd bit of parsing).

  13. Found this tougher than most others seem to have done, and limped home in an above-average 14 minutes to continue a Slow Week. Both Futon and Enter went in unparsed – Futon perhaps more forgiveably, as I am another who has NHO Ton=Fashion, and Enter because I always forget that references to America can mean “think of the spelling our transatlantic cousins prefer”. On the other hand Superlative, which seems to have caused some bother, went in almost as soon as I had a couple of checkers.

    A nice puzzle and a good workout and I think I was just not on form today. Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  14. I guess I wasn’t on wavelength today. I looked at the grid which was mostly completed in my target time but was peppered with missing unches in COASTER, MOSS, PYRAMID and LOI ROTTEN APPLE (unparsed). 10:11 Forgot to say that I also have NHO TON = fashion.

  15. Three in a row completed (each about 25 minutes), first hat trick, so a kind of PB. Perhaps I’m beginning to get the hang of these. FOI PORTAL, COD INAPPROPRIATE, LOI REPAIR. Thanks, Hurley. Thanks also to Templar for his superlative explanation of SUPERLATIVE.

  16. Enjoyed this – thanks Hurley and rolytoly. Minor gripe with ton – never heard of it. Also I do think that 5a needs a hint that he’s from yesteryear. I remember him but I’m in my 70’s!

  17. I am providing a service to all of us that have NHO ton meaning fashion by quoting Wikipedia – not infallible I know but often helpful – which says:

    “The ton was the high society in the United Kingdom during the late Regency era and the reign of King George IV, and later. The word means, in this context, ‘manners’ or ‘style'”.

    From which point to meaning fashion in a 21st century QC is of course but a small step. How could I not have seen it immediately!


    1. Surely “bon ton” is pretty well known? There even used to be a clothes shop near us called that!

      1. Well, it may be in some parts, and perhaps it should be more universally, but I’d argue that it is a touch more obscure than you imply.

        To be clear, I’m not criticising Hurley, and the clue was very biffable, but it is the nature of such GK that one either knows it (in which case it is easy enough) or one doesn’t. And comments here suggest that I am not quite alone in being woefully ignorant of the term.

        1. That’s spot on about GK – one solver’s write-in is another solver’s NHO!

      2. NHO TON for fashion. NHO “Bon ton”, whatever that may mean. Must have been brung up wrong.

          1. If I had ever seen ‘bon ton’, I would have assumed it was a French Hi-Fi chain. 🙄

    2. OED, which is infallible, has usage from 1769 to 1978 (the eighties bonkbuster Scruples. If I used it with my teenage daughter’s friends would I be ton, fleek, snatched, peng or just cheugy?

        1. Today has expanded my vocabulary by at least 5 words. Though I’m not sure I’d ever dare use any of Merlin’s quartet in real life!

  18. 7:27

    No real problems though took a while to see INAPPROPRIATE and LOI COASTER – as with others, was thinking floor mats. Luckily, familiar with TON from these crosswords, plus I still have a FUTON which comes in useful for any unexpected teenagers sleeping over.

  19. I was on good form with this one finishing in a speedy 6.43. The only one that held me up to any extent was my LOI SUPERLATIVE, and this took me about 40 seconds to work out what was going on.

  20. 24:12 today with 4 mins on PDM SUPERLATIVE. Liked PORTAL (conjures up all sorts of otherworldly images). Didn’t parse ENTER, my POI – always forget that ‘America’ may mean American spelling. Lots of nice clues. Thanks for the blog.

  21. 30 mins…

    Must have missed the easy bits, as I thought this was pretty chewy. Quite a few I struggled to parse, including 3dn “Superlative” and 17dn “Futon”. NHO of “blackguard” for ruffian.

    FOI – 1ac “Ancestry”
    LOI – 2dn “Coaster”
    COD – 9dn “Rotten Apple”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Blackguard is pronounced ‘blaggard’, another historical drama word!

      1. Ahh…that makes more sense. Probably in some Jane Austen novel I guess.

  22. I only just avoided the SCC today, finishing in 19:40.

    I needed an alphabet trawl to get COASTER. LOI was SUPERLATIVE, without making sense of all of the clue. Thanks Templar for making sense of it.

    “Ton” for the fashionable people in Georgian times gets used a lot in Bridgerton.

  23. 11.51 ENTER was unparsed, SUPERLATIVE was biffed and I was a bit slow at the end with PYRAMID, MOTHER-OF-PEARL, FUTON and ROTTEN APPLE. FUTON made no sense to me and I’ve realised reading the comments that I hadn’t understood the SUPERLATIVE clue either. Thanks everyone!

  24. Ancestry was a write-in, but for the next 20 minutes or so it was the only outpost in a barren NW corner, despite repeated visits in-between solving clues in a steady fashion around the rest of the grid. Took a tea break before returning, yet again, to the same half dozen hold outs, and this time thought of what immediately became the blindingly obvious Coaster. That prompted Inappropriate and Superlative etc, with loi Abide. . . around the 30min mark. Not so much off the wavelength, as trying to get a tune out of the dishwasher. Invariant

  25. 9:20. An interesting mix – I got EXTRACT and MOTHER-OF-PEARL before I’d finished reading the clues, but PYRAMID took a while to sort out and I never did parse SUPERLATIVE, so thanks Roly for the explanation. So obvious as well (to me anyway – it’s all comparative!). I quite liked INAPPROPRIATE and ROTTEN APPLE. No problem with ton for fashion – it appears quite regularly in the 15×15 and is definitely a known known to readers of Georgette Heyer, of which there are quite a few over on the other side. In fact, it was after a thread on that subject that I decided to try out one of her books after a gap of 50+ years – what a hoot!
    FOI Ancestry LOI Insole – those pesky hiddens
    Thanks Hurley and Roly

  26. I found this one to be quite tricky in places. In fact there were some clues that just made no sense to me whatsoever, leaving me with no idea how to start. However, I was able to answer them only because of cross-checkers already in place.

    I had no idea what a blackguard was, but I saw ruffian in the anagram. It seems to me that blackguard could mean a ruffian, so in it went.

  27. More travails here, though I think I get more exercised by above target times now that I keep a spreadsheet, and can see that mean and median creeping up!



  28. TON = fashion has been discussed above, but neither I nor Mrs R have ever clapped eyes or ears on such usage. Perhaps we’re not yet 250 years old.
    F = following? Please could someone suggest a context for this abbreviation?
    We both had to trust to luck with FUTON but, in my case at least, not without a few minutes of alphabet-trawling and hand-wringing.

    SUPERLATIVE was also difficult and not overly popular in the Random household.

    Mrs Random crossed the line in 21 minutes and I followed 8 minutes later in 29.

    Many thanks to Hurley and Rolytoly.

    1. When looking up a cross reference you might see pp23f, which means page 23 and one page following. If the reference is on multiple following pages the style is pp23ff.

  29. Not on the gentler side as far as I was concerned as this took me 31 minutes. I’ve only once been below target this week, so they’re getting harder and/or my loss of brain cells is accelerating. Failed to parse ENTER, SUPERLATIVE and the F in FUTON (no problem with the TON part which I knew).

    FOI – 1ac ANCESTRY
    LOI – 13dn PYRAMID

    Thanks to Hurley and Rolytoly

  30. Couldn’t get going then everything fell into place. Dog and I are rather tired after long hilly country walk.
    Pity I didn’t read the MOTHER OF PEARL clue straight away as a write-in like that is always encouraging.
    Had to biff a few like ENTER, PYRAMID.
    Easy to biff FUTON too. Forgot TON for fashion, but of course I know it from Heyer and history lessons as others have mentioned.
    Thanks vm, Roly.

  31. I found this difficult and even after using aids to get some of the answers, I couldn’t see the parsing or was doubtful about it.

  32. Steady solve loi 2d coaster after going through a number of other ships. At 30m to finish, which is about our average

  33. A typo in MOTHET OF PEARL gave me a pink square, but I’m not counting that as an actual DNF, since I knew what I wanted to type. All done in 18:30, a bit over my target. COD COASTER, which came to me as I put my tea down on one!
    Thanks to Hurley & roly.

  34. 16:47 (although probably somewhat quicker on account of interruptions) and all green for a good day avoiding the SCC. Having said that I always feel a bit guilty when it’s not all parsed and I confess to several of those today, including ENTER, FUTON (NHO TON) and ROTTEN APPLE (how did I not spot the anagram?). FOI ANCESTRY , LOI ENTER and some nice clues including PYRAMID. Thanks Hurley and roly.

  35. No problems apart from failing to parse enter. Coaster is what you put your schooner on. Knew ton from previous crosswords.

  36. Lovely puzzle that keep me occupied in Outpatients and just finished when called – so no chance to check the blog until safely home again. It helped me by keeping me pre-occupied instead of the imminent ‘procedure’! Nonetheless I am sure I was more than a little distracted but it does mean I have something a just under 30 minute time for the once. Grateful for the blog parsing on Superlative and Enter.
    Back to being relaxed tomorrow and probably late in the day again.

  37. Quickest for a month for me, although early on it seemed on the tricky side. Unlike yesterday’s offering from Joker which seemed easy at first and ended up taking ages. Anyway, only vaguely remember coming across ton=fashion and didn’t at all until I came on here. Also didn’t remember blackguard, but I’ve just realised how it must be pronounced and “blaggard” is more familiar. You live and learn. Time was 12:00 on the nose, so thanks to Hurley and Roly.

  38. Like many others I found SUPERLATIVE hard. I thought that the idea of double definition clues was that the two definitions were different (e.g. Ship mat). I’m used to French, where adjectives are often used as nouns (‘le méchant’, ‘le bossu’, ‘le dernier’, etc.), so for me the noun/adjective distinction is blurred. Similar in German of course, although they usually add an -e at the end (best – das Beste).

  39. Total and utter humiliation today. 50 minutes of wading through treacle. How on earth can I solve a QC on Tuesday in 10 mins and then revert to this pathetic performance?

    It would take too long to list the clues I struggled with, so let’s just say that most presented a challenge. Talk about not being on the wavelength!

    My times this week – 30 mins, 10 mins, 16 min, 50 mins. My modest goal of 5 finishes in 2 hours is blown to smithereens again, barring a highly unlikely 14 min solve tomorrow.

    Thanks for the blog (although seeing the reference to this being gentle made me wince).


  40. Nice to have a rather easier puzzle today, although had to biff FUTON and SUPERLATIVE.

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