Toughie 185 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 185

Toughie No 185 by MynoT

Swallowing a Dictionary

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment **

If ferreting out obscure words is your bag then you’ll be in your element with this one! It is certainly a challenge, and I had particular difficulties in the top left-hand corner, with Chambers in overdrive.
As always the answers are hidden inside the curly brackets – select the white space to reveal them. Do leave a comment to let us know what you thought of it!

Across Clues

7a  Garment’s dyed, we hear, and taken to the cleaners (7)
{FLEECED} – a verb meaning obtained a lot of money from someone by overcharging (taken to the cleaners) is constructed from a warm garment followed by Died (sound-alike of dyed, then reduced to its abbreviation).

8a  Head boy would be ideal if second and third changed places (7)
{PREFECT} – swap the second and third letters of a synonym of ideal.

10a  A problem with houses requiring payment of bills (10)
{SETTLEMENT} – double definition.

11a  Domestic slave seen playing (4)
{ESNE} – a word for a domestic slave in Anglo-Saxon times is an anagram (playing) of SEEN.

12a  Small poem against Irish obstructed in the past (8 )
{VERSELET} – the definition is a small poem and you need a charade of V (versus, against), ERSE (Irish Gaelic) and LET (an archaic verb meaning hindered or obstructed, the noun from which is still used in tennis).

14a  Gunned priest about the end of the war (6)
{REVVED} – a verb meaning pressed the accelerator to make the engine work harder (gunned) is constructed from REVD (Reverend, priest) around VE (Victory in Europe).

15a  Insufficiency of funds finally brings mortgagee to the point (11)
{SLENDERNESS} – a word meaning meagreness or insufficiency is constructed from a charade starting with the last letter (finally) of fundS.

19a  Hardy country for an earl (6)
{WESSEX} – double definition.

20a  Sensitive termination of plots about English in American state (5,3)
{NERVE END} – the definition is sensitive termination – we need to put North Dakota around ERVEN (a South African word for garden plots) which itself includes E(nglish).

22a  Embarrassment of hereditary element (4)
{GENE} – double definition – gene (with a circumflex over the first e which I cannot put on because it drives WordPress barmy) is a word from French meaning embarrassment.

23a  Book having success after footballer’s decapitated bank clerk (4,6)
{BEST SELLER} – the definition is book having success and the term is constructed from (George) BEST’S and tELLER (bank clerk who has lost his head).

25a  Lapel, for example, on European gear (7)
{REVERSE} – take REVERS (part of a garment which can be turned back, such as a lapel) and add E(uropean) to get a gear.

26a  Seamen captured by serial robber (7)
{SCREWER} – put CREW (seamen) inside SER (serial) to get a slang term for a robber.

Down Clues

1d  Support for hidden spy (7)
{SLEEPER} – double definition.

2d  Roe’s spleen (4)
{MELT} – double definition – an alternative spelling of MILT which can mean both the soft roe of a male fish and the spleen.

3d  Counter for game using just lines (6)
{MERELL} – put together MERE (just) and LL (lines) to get a counter which was used in the old rustic game of merils (a game played by two people which involved drawing lines on the ground and trying to get three counters in a row on the intersections of the lines).

4d  Drunken three in service pursue Black Friars (8 )
{BRETHREN} – the definition is friars – put an anagram (drunken) of THREE inside RN (Royal Navy) all following B(lack).

5d  Letter with irregular verse accompanies this French fizz (10)
{EFFERVESCE} – the definition is fizz, and this word is made up of EFF (letter?), an anagram (irregular) of VERSE and CE (French for this). The problem I have here is that I can find no reference to EFF standing for F (it’s normally EF) – in fact EFF seems to stand for something completely different as in “eff and blind” – has anyone any ideas?

6d  Sweet ascent Edmund discovered (7)
{SCENTED} – a hidden word meaning fragrant or sweet.

9d  False refinement of information getting support before Head left (11)
{GENTEELNESS} – a four-part charade leads to a word meaning false refinement.

13d  Feels deeds to be strange and parthenogenetic, perhaps (4-6)
{SELF-SEEDED} – an anagram (to be strange) of FEELS DEEDS means (of a plant) propagated from its own seed.

16d  Second to former torpedo boat in neighbourhood of Tyne road (4,4)
{NEXT BEST} – a term meaning runner-up (second to) is formed by putting EX (former) and TB (torpedo boat) inside NE (North-East, neighbourhood of Tyne) and adding ST (street, road).

17d  Always overdrawn but honoured (7)
{REVERED} – if you are overdrawn you are in the red – so put EVER (always) in RED to get a synonym for honoured.

18d  Opinionated alien to replace recipe in entrée (7)
{ENTETEE} – replace the R in entrée with ET (alien, from the Steven Spielberg film) to get a word (from the French) meaning opinionated (this form of the word applies to females only!).

21d  Cut away part of broadcast (secret) (6)
{RESECT} – a surgical term meaning to cut away part of something (e.g. tissue) is formed from an anagram (broadcast) of SECRET.

24d  Shelters the worst parts (4)
{LEES} – double definition.

My favourite clue is 17d. What about you? – leave us a comment!

12 comments on “Toughie 185

  1. Gazza, Thanks for that, gave up on 2d and 18d. I had the word play for 18d i.e. I knew what letters I needed to try and form a word, but couldn’t find anything :-). I suppose I could have tried all the various letters on Clued Up until I got 2d right :-)
    3d is a completely new word for me, I guessed it from the wordplay and then confirmed it. Basically a long struggle that I lost.

    1. We have melts nearly every week, so I had that early on and fortunately knew the alternative spelling.

      18 down was not helped by CluedUp’s dislike of accented letters, but I guessed there was a problem and checked the printable version. Even then it was, for me, a new word.

      Today I received in the post a copy of Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary and a quick look at the entry for counter came up with merell. I suspect that will not be the last time it comes to my rescue.

  2. One or two bankers such as 19a,1d and 17d but some words I have never heard of. Despite 30 years in the force I have never heard of a robber being named 26a. Altogether very difficult.

    1. bigboab
      Chambers gives screw as a verb meaning:
      a) to enter by means of a skeleton key
      b) to burgle or rob
      (both being slang usages)

      1. I understand that the verb to screw can have this meaning I have just never heard it as a noun with er on the end however life is too short to worry about these things.

  3. Sometimes I regret ever seeing a ‘Toughie’ and today is one of them!. 5d still has me flummoxed, where the compiler has found the extra f in it is a mystery unless French=f, and this=ce is used with ef and the anagram of verse!.unlikely. However did like 7a, 18d’s switch of r for ET once ‘chambers checked’ was brill.

    1. According to my new dictionary (see above comment) EF or EFF are permissible for the letter F, although, as Gazza says, it’s not in Chambers.

      1. Further to your comment Dave, I resorted to the ODE, and yes it has in it an entry ‘ eff-Origin 1950’s: the letter F represented as a word’. so my above reasoning can be ignored. Not like Chambers to let us down!

  4. Did nobody else notice that the only vowels in this puzzle were Es? I guessed after solving only two clues as it is the same compiler who used the same grid for his crossword containing no vowels except As.

    1. Peter
      Thanks for that. As usual, I totally missed it – a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees!
      I suppose that we should look out for a puzzle from him with the only vowels being Os (“I”s or “U”s would be difficult, and even I would probably spot that!).

  5. Merell. What a complete bugger to find! Didn’t find it. The ever resourceful net came up with nowt but shoes! Had to wait for the solution!

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