The Difference between Cryptic and 'Straight' Clues

In a 'straight' or 'quick' crossword, the clues are normally simple definitions. For example:

Shorten (7)

Fictional detective (6)

Huge (7)

A cryptic clue, on the other hand, normally consists of two parts: a definition and an additional hint or cryptic indication of the solution - usually involving some form of wordplay.

The definition part will normally occur at the beginning or end of the clue. Part of the fun is analysing the clue to discover which part is definition and which part is cryptic indication.

In the following pages, we will examine the various forms of wordplay that may be used in a cryptic indication. But first here are some examples to show the basic structure of a cryptic clue:

Shorten a card game (7)

      Definition: Shorten

      Cryptic indication: a card game

Fictional detective left in houses (6)

      Definition: Fictional detective

      Cryptic indication: left in houses

Some slim men seem huge (7)

      Cryptic indication: Some slim men seem

      Definition: huge


Next: Double Definitions




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