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Solving Cryptic Crossword Clues


There are many words that can have one or more letters removed so as to form new words. For example:




A basic subtraction clue will have a definition of the solution, a definition of the word to be operated on, and an indication that one or more letters are to be removed. A number of cryptic devices are employed to indicate subtraction or deletion of letters from a word. Here are three clues using the examples above:

Crime is the result when clergyman loses his head (5)

Observing naught, losing heart (6)

Declares a piece of poetry is unfinished (5)

Among the ways of indicating that an initial letter is to be subtracted you will encounter: beheaded, not started, first off.

For the subtraction of the middle letter or letters: heartless, hollow.

For the subtraction of a final letter: incomplete, endless, not fully.

For the subtraction of initial and final letters: without limits, lacking wings.

And here, for reference, is a more extensive list of subtraction indicators.

Next: Complex Clues

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