DT Cryptic No 25903

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25903

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment ***

The lesser-known words made this puzzle harder than usual (unless, of course, you are well up on medicinal terms!).


1a Not belonging to but devoted to the United Nations (10)
{UNATTACHED} – this synonym for not belonging to is a charade of UN (United Nations) and ATTACHED (devoted to)

6a Lowest cipher (4)
{ZERO} – snappy cryptic definition – a cipher is an one of the Arabic numerals, and this is the lowest one

9a Current death (3,2,5)
{DIE OF SHOCK} – another cryptic definition – what might happen to you after contact with an electric current

10a Record errors expected from sports equipment (4)
{ÉPÉE} – EP (Extended Play record – remember them?) and EE (abbreviation for Errors Expected) gives a sharp pointed sword
EP (Extended Play record – remember them?) and EE (abbreviation for Errors Excepted, not as given here Errors Expected – see comments below) gives a sharp pointed sword

12a Clever sailor is attached to the French (4)
{ABLE} – this word meaning clever is a simple charade of AB (Able-Bodied seaman) and LE (the, French)

13a Rush about to manage a period of boxing (3,6)
{RUN AROUND} – this phrase meaning to rush about is a simple charade of RUN (to manage) and A ROUND (a period of boxing)

15a Lets loose the upper-class knight from his fetters (8)
{UNCHAINS} – another charade of U (upper-class) N (knight in chess notation) and a word meaning fetters gives us a synonym for lets loose

16a Charges for a second fondle! (6)
{CARESS} – these charges are the kind you look after, add S(econd) and you have a word meaning to fondle

18a Ingest mushroom with consuming interest (6)
{INCEPT} – a synonym for ingest comes from putting a CEP (mushroom) inside (consuming) INT(erest)

20a Drunk inert ale – what a purgative!… (8)
{ELATERIN} – drunk, rather cleverly, signals an anagram of INERT ALE to give a purgative that, fortunately for me, I have had no experience of using

23a …and fifty agreeing to mix the drink… (6,3)
{GINGER ALE} – an anagram (to mix) of L (fifty in Roman numerals) and AGREEING  give a drink that is appropriately used as a mixer – linked to the clues on either side only by the mention of drink in the wordplay of each

24a …and returns a portion of gin (4)
{TRAP} – this word meaning a portion, when reversed gives a snare – the link to the previous clue is deliberately misleading you into thinking that gin here refers to the alcoholic drink

26a Odd oratress has rows (4)
{OARS} – take the odd letters from OrAtReSs to get a word meaning rows

27a Income spun from synthesising medicines (10)
{PNEUMONICS} – this anagram of INCOME SPUN is signalled retrospectively by synthesising to make you think that medicines is the target of the anagram – it was a pity that there were only nine letters in medicines otherwise I might have fallen for it – like the earlier purgative, this was another medicinal term with which I was not familiar

28a Rap Kelvin and knock over (4)
{KNAP} – I was not aware of this answer as a synonym for rap, but the charade of K(elvin) and PAN (knock, as in criticise) reversed (over) meant that I could look it up in my trusty Chamber’s

29a Can lady jet off in a conterminous manner? (10)
{ADJACENTLY} – don’t be distracted by the long word – this is simply an anagram (off) of CAN LADY JET giving a word meaning  in such a way as to be close (in a conterminous manner)


1d Cancel the Open (4)
{UNDO} – this double definition just about works although once again a verb is being treated as if it were a noun

2d Bitter and sour maple with crumbs of biccy (7)
{ACERBIC} – this is a word meaning bitter and sour which is derived from ACER (another name for the maple) and BIC (crumbs of biccy)

3d Sticks to sweet fruits (6,6)
{TOFFEE APPLES} – these are made from fruit on a stick coated with a sugary sweet substance

4d Present a good book to the first company that’s organised (8)
{COHERENT} – HERE (present) and NT (New Testament / a good book) are preceded by (to the first) CO(mpany) to give a synonym for organised – you are meant to think that organised is the trigger for a non-existent anagram

5d Geological time the Executive Officer’s seen, we hear (6)
{EOCENE} – EO (Executive Officer) then a homophone for seen give this geological time

7d Embrace foresight on the river (7)
{ESPOUSE} – a simple but clever charade of ESP (extrasensory perception / foresight) and OUSE (the river) gives us a synonym for embrace

8d Drive goons wild by taking too many drugs (10)
{OVERDOSING} – easy to spot this anagram (wild) of DRIVE GOONS giving a word meaning taking too many drugs

11d Natant style involving heart massage (12)
{BREASTSTROKE} – natant is a word perhaps more familiar to Americans where a swimming pool is called a natatorium – this is a cryptic definition of a swimming stroke

14d Musical piece of cutlery (6,4)
{TUNING FORK} – this hardly cryptic definition should be easy to get

17d Every prophet partook in the unionist academy – ‘Praise the Lord!’ (8)
{ALLELUIA} – ALL (every) the ELI (prophet) around (partook in) U(nionist) and finally A(cademy) give this word meaning “Praise the Lord”

19d Moving picture concerning a lump of grey, brain matter (7)
{CINEREA} – CINE (moving picture) RE (concerning) and A combine to give a  lump of grey brain matter – I’d never heard of it before today

21d Boxer when in holiday surroundings became a pragmatist (7)
{REALIST} – (Muhammad) ALI (boxer) inside (in … surroundings) REST (holiday) gives a  pragmatist

22d Beaten by Brown and Sherrin (6)
{TANNED} – TAN (brown) and NED (Sherrin) give a word meaning beaten – the capitalisation of Brown is there to make you think it is being used as a surname

25d Catch sight of East Samoa’s original little pygmy (4)
{ESPY} – this synonym for catch sight of is ES (East Samoa’) and PY (original little Pygmy)

Usually I find that the enjoyment increases with the difficulty, but somehow this one didn’t do it for me.  Several of the answers here would be better suited to a Toughie, or even an Enigmatic Variations puzzle.  I was glad that I was not trying to do this while sitting on the apocryphal Clapham omnibus.


  1. bigboab
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    A stinker, even with your assistance I still don’t understand 27a.

  2. michael g c king
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    i cannet find an anagram of inert ale the only i i find is treenail atype of metal nail from medievil times

  3. Posted April 15, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink


    I found it by using this online anagram solver:

    The Universal Anagram Solver

    and then looking up the only result that fitted the checked letters.

  4. michael g c king
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    i used to sove the cryptic xword 9 out of 10 times but some of the clues are so obscure now and a lot of words not in my dictionary the new compiler is just too obscure and hard

  5. michael g c king
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    wow thats certainly better than my solver thanks a lot

  6. Posted April 15, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Permalink


    Chamber’s, 11th edition and online gives pneumonic as a medicine for lung diseases.

  7. Kram
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Is there a Doctor in the house?, after today’s Xword I nearly called for one! A stinker, but thanks for explaining 27a, was the only word that fitted, but the ODE let me down as to why.

  8. Jane
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Definitely a tricky puzzle today but satisfying to complete. 11d amused me!

  9. john middleton
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad I found this site , I feel I’m a member of a really nice club

  10. Posted April 15, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    And there’s no membership fee, John !

  11. bigboab
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks yet again BD, I got the anagram but the meaning I still find obscure to say the least, I bow to your superior knowledge and to your on line Chambers.

  12. Posted April 16, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    10 is a dud clue which the xwd e3d should have picked up. e.e. is an abbreviation for “errors excepted”, NOT “errors expected”. If the right version is used, the surface meaning falls apart, so I don’t think this is a mistake at the newspaper.

  13. Posted April 16, 2009 at 10:29 am | Permalink


    You are, as ever, completely correct. I did look up “EE” in my trusty Chamber’s and saw what I wanted to see, not what was actually there. I guess the setter did exactly the same.

  14. Jonathan Richards
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Yup. Agreed, the medical clues were too obscure. I wrote pneumonics in light and couldn’t do 19.