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Solving Cryptic Crossword Clues

Cryptic Definitions

Sometimes a cryptic clue will consist only of a definition - but phrased in such a way as to be deliberately misleading.

For example, a clue The rest of the afternoon (6) may lead to the solution SIESTA.

The key to solving this type of clue is the ability to look beyond the obvious surface meaning of the clue and to consider what alternative meanings the clue might have.

It should be noted that some crossword setters, as well as some solvers, consider this type of clue to be unfair. Unlike other types of cryptic clue, the solver gets only 'one bite of the cherry' as the definition and the cryptic indication are merged. On the other hand, some regard this as the most satisfying type of clue, particularly if it involves very clever wordplay.

Try these "cryptic definition" clues:

A heavenly lighter (3)

The present time (9)

If you would like practice with this type of clue, here are some additional examples.

Female supporter (3)

Event for which one is late (7)

Jammed cylinder (5,4)

Refusal to give credit (9)

A drop in the ocean (10)

A brave leader (8)

His downfall was shattering (6,6)

Breathtaking passage beneath a bridge (7)

The growth of the fairytale (9)

A letter for Socrates (5)

Not infrequently a crossword setter will stretch or twist the meanings of words. Thus, in a cryptic clue the word FLOWER may indicate a river (something that flows) or DELIGHTED may indicate something dark (de-lighted). The following clues exemplify this devious sort of wordplay:

Parisian flower (5)

A sticky sweet (8)

A wicked thing (6)

Distressed Biblical character (6)

Next: Anagrams

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