DT 26220 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26220

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26220

Today’s The Day!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Right, before we start, let’s get something out of the way!

Happy Birthday to

Big Dave


All the bloggers,


and visitors

to this wonderful site!

There, oh, and Happy Birthday to Libellule. And Happy Birthday to that woman who lives in Buckingham Palace who shares a birthday with our glorious leader!

Back to matters cruciverbal! It’s a nice puzzle from our Wednesday Wizard who has written some good solid clues that hopefully most of you will find accessible. One or two grumbles though, which are contained in the analysis. However, if you hit a brick wall, the hints and tips below should help, and if you get really stuck, the answers are contained within the squiggly brackets; you should highlight them with your mouse to reveal all.

As usual, have your say after the blog and don’t forget to rate the puzzle with the star system.


1a    Reportedly depressed — put on coat and leave (8)
{FURLOUGH} Quite a tough clue to start with today. The definition is a period of leave, and comprises a homophone (indicated by reportedly) of a word meaning depressed or down following a word for a type of expensive coat favoured by ladies and Liberace.

9a    Instrument required to provide estimate on painting (3,5)
{OIL GAUGE} The definition is “Instrument”, and a word meaning to provide an estimate goes after a type of painting. I would have felt the clue worked better with a question-mark and the suggestion that it might be a way of measuring a painting.

10a    Investor with 80% of theatre (4)
{STAG} A nickname for an investor that is used in the Stock Exchange is made up of four-fifths of the word for the theatre, or where a play takes place.

11a    Heated and angry, cut back such out-of-date festive food (3,5,4)
{HOT CROSS BUNS} A word sum. A word meaning heated + one meaning angry or irate. Add to this a word meaning to cut or ignore which is reversed. This leads to a type of food that as the clue says is not normally eaten around now, although supermarkets seem to sell them all year round!

13a    So far their host, with no spades, lost (8)
{HITHERTO} An old word meaning thus far, in terms of time, is made up of an anagram of THEIR HOST without S (for spades). However, the anagram indicator of “lost” is rather poor to me.

15a    Entertained a thought (6)
{AMUSED} A word sum. A + a word meaning thought (verb, not noun)= one meaning “entertained”.

16a    Incomplete study on origin of athletics field (4)
{AREA} This is the third time in the first seven clues that “on” has been used to mean “Put B on to A” to get C. Most setters use this device sparingly in a puzzle, so I’m starting to feel this is a bit much.

17a    Do some before the end of May (5)
{PARTY} “Do” is the definition, and is made up of a word meaning some, plus Y (the end of MaY)

18a    Put time in, for example, to check (4)
[STAY} T (for Time) goes inside a short word meaning “for example”; this gives a word meaning to check or restrain.

20a    One preaches ruin endlessly to retired leader (6)
{RECTOR} Yu need to find a five-letter word meaning to ruin or destroy, and remove the first and last letters (endlessly). Add to this TO and R (first letter [leader] of Retired

21a    Defends drink (and fortified wines) (8)
{SUPPORTS} A word sum. A word meaning drink + the name for fortified wines = a word meaning defends.

23a    Flyer produced by government official? Avoid! (8,4)
{MANDARIN DUCK} Quite a nice misleading clue. A name given to a government official, a high-level civil servant from Whitehall is added to a command usually shouted meaning “Avoid”. This gives a type of rather beautiful feathered flyer.

26a    I do religious painting (4)
{ICON} I + a word meaning do or swindle leads to a word for a religious work of art.

27a    Girl who’s close to disaster? (4,4)
{NEAR MISS} A word for close, in terms of proximity followed by a word meaning an unmarried girl. The whole clue is a cryptic definition, which covers the word order and is indicated by the question mark.

28a    Poems from European Community records given an airing (8)
{ECLOGUES} A type of pastoral poem – the European Community is followed by a homophone (given an airing) of logs (records)


2d    Remoter area dropped from new rail route (8)
{ULTERIOR} Take A(rea) from RAIL ROUTE and make an anagram of the remainder to give a word meaning “remoter” or beyond what is stated. I feel it’s a bit unfair to ask solvers to remove something from an anagram of something, which is how the clue is worded, as the anagram is unsolvable without removing it first.

3d    Being gay, the girl hated to be different (5-7)
{LIGHT-HEARTED} Here gay is used in the old sense of the word, i.e. happy. An anagram of THE GIRL HATED leads to that definition.

4d    Powerful steroids hidden in coat? The reverse! (6)
{ULSTER} A curious way of writing a hidden clue, and one I’m not entirely keen on. A type of coat contained within “Powerful steroids”

5d    Frost might be nothing in mostly difficult surroundings (4)
{HOAR} A type of frost is made up of O (nothing) in three-quarters of a four-letter word meaning difficult.

6d    A risk originally found in shiny appendix (8)
{GLOSSARY} A description of something shiny, or a type of magazine, with A R (the first letter of risk)

7d    Disapproving expression on universal dress for dance (4)
{TUTU} If you disapprove of something, you may do this. Add to it the abbreviation for Universal, and you’ll get a type of dress worn by a dancer.

8d    Go without food crossing Spain — light hours from religious festival (5-3)
{FEAST-DAY} If you go without food, you may do this. Inside goes E for Spain and then add a short word for “light hours” and the name for a festival, especially when a saint’s day is celebrated.

12d    Luck begins to change intellectual (12)
{BLUE STOCKING} An anagram (change) of LUCK BEGINS TO leads to a phrase meaning an intellectual, usually a lady of letters.

14d    Gold lace with gold braids oddly missing (5)
{ORRIS} A type of gold lace is found by taking the French word for gold and adding to it the even letters from braids.

16d    Credit for student in maintenance payments creates bitterness (8)
{ACRIMONY} A delightfully clever clue. Take the word for payments made after a divorce for maintenance, and swap CR (for credit) for L (student) to get another word meaning bitterness. Bravo, Jay!

17d    Description of charge heard against Calais, for example (8)
{PORTRAIT} And another clue similar to 1, 9 and 16a where the first part is attached on to the second afterwards. Think of a description of Calais (keep it polite!), Dover, Southampton or Liverpool and place this after (against) a homophone for a word meaning charge or amount.

19d    Worker raising European (English) ruminant (8)
{ANTELOPE} Worker in crosswords often means one of two types of insect, an ant or a bee. Here it’s the former. Add to it the name of a European, particularly one from Warsaw, reversed and add E for English. This will give you the name of an animal that ruminates.

22d    More than one friend accepts bait without finishing (6)
{PLURAL} A word for bait, without its last word, goes inside a word for a friend and leads to one that means “more than one”, if you get my drift!

24d    Clear about answer being straight (4)
{NEAT} An accountancy word meaning “clear of charges or deductions” with A (for answer) inside leads o a word meaning straight or without addition, as in a drink.

25d    Enquire into report of negative votes (4)
{NOSE} A double definition with half of it a homophone. A word meaning pry into or snoop also sounds like negative votes (The opposite of “The Ayes”)

Overall a nice puzzle to cure the midweek blues. Thanks to Jay for the challenge. And a toast to the birthday of Big Dave, Libellule and Mrs Windsor!

72 comments on “DT 26220

  1. Happy birthday Dave and Libellulle hope the sun shines all day for you, thanks for letting us know Tilsit, party at 8pm in the CC!! everyone invited
    Never heard of an ulster coat before! nevertheless finished the puzzle but had to check a few on the blog, not sure about this one, easiest this week i think, for myself anyway, good luck everyone see you all at the party :)

    1. Ulster was the last one in for me, Mary. I missed the device telling me it was a hidden clue and was trying to fit some word into another.

    2. The last time that I can find Ulster being referred to as a coat was in the wordplay for 23 down in DT 25879 – over a year ago!

    3. Think we all missed Ulster (whatever that is!). Got a bit misled by some of the clues I had perorate for 17d, pastor for 20a and Noes for 25d. Finished in the end with the help of the blog for 9a, never thought of a gauge DOH!
      On the whole a very enjoyable puzzle today – favourite clue 23a, made me smile :-) Least liked was 1a, don’t like Americanisms.

        1. Barrie,
          Interesting, I very nearly did that, until I looked at the word play….and wondered how I would justify the IES on the end…..

        2. me too Barrie and i didn’t know it was wrong til i read your comment now!! thanks, i think :)

  2. Happy Birthday to Big Dave, Libellule and Brenda.
    Very enjoyable from Jay today and I must say I found it less than straightforward – I had to look up 12d for confirmation but the anagram was quite clear.
    Top clued for me were 23a and in particular 16d.
    Thanks for the review Tilsit and thanks to Jay.

  3. Happy Birthday from us two to you two!

    Had today’s cryptic done by 8am this morning( thanks to builders making us have an early start) and really enjoyed it. Got Ulster in last, as seems to be the general consensus, so thanks Tilsit for clearing that one up in hindsight. Hope the Toughie is as satisfying as have found the last few very taxing!

  4. Many happy return to the crew. When can we expect the first blog from the missing celebrity on these pages!

    I really enjoyed this treat from Jay today. Many thanks to him for the entertainment. I thought that 4d was a nice clue and well signposted for the wordplay. Thanks to Tilsit for the notes.

    1. I don’t think Brenda does blogs somehow, but we should have a familiar face making his debut on Friday!

      If any of you lovely ladies out there fancy joining what is currently an all-male blogging team, I would be delighted to hear from you.

                1. Why not you – just think a whole page to yourself?

                  We’d help you if you want to give it a go – maybe Saturday’s hints?

                  1. Once again Dave, knowing me and my record, you cannot be serious :) thanks for your confidence though, just wish i was clever enough :)

        1. According to Private Eye, within the royal family HM is called Brenda and Prince Charles is called Brian.

              1. thanks Gnomethang, that’s really funny, are you the mysterious blogger for Friday, if not answer no, if you are, no reply necessary :)

  5. Feliz cumpeanos to the birthday people. I really enjoyed this – especially 1a and 27a. 28a is a new word for me – thanks to the setter and Tilsit for educating me.

      1. I used to feel the same about facebook, but I signed up to get in touch with someone and a few months later a friend from Bristol University contacted me after a gap of 44 years. That alone made it all worthwhile.

  6. Tilsit,

    Your explanation of 27a is round the wrong way. The unmarried girl follows the word for close.

    1a. When we have a foreign word, the setter usually indicates the fact, in some way. I think we should have similar hints with US words. It took a long time for the penny top drop for me.

    4d. I didn’t find the difficulty others seem to have done, and thought this was a clever clue.

    I also liked 16d and 23a.

    1. 27a is sorted.

      The word order appears to be round the wrong way until you realise that near is being used as an adjective to the unmarried lady.

  7. Chambers doesn’t give 1a as an Americanism, and I remember dear old Morse using it in one of his yarns, and I hardly think he would speak Yank!

  8. Many Happy Returns Dave. Good crossword and good blog, thanks Jay and Tilsit. I don’t believe 1a is necessarily an Americanism, I believe it has a Dutch root.

  9. Happy Birthday to BD and Joyeux Anniversaire to Libellule.

    It’s interesting that 13a is almost the reverse of 19d in today’s Toughie.

    1. Gazza,
      Thanks for that (and everybody else). I noticed that too, and wondered if the Editor of Crosswords at the DT checks the cryptic and toughie for those type of coincidences before publication…

  10. Probably my best week-day effort yet – just three I couldn’t sort out. Thanks for the review Tilsit and greetings to the birthday boys.

    On a first read through, I thought 14d, which cropped up fairly recently, was going to be the only one I could do! I didn’t find 2d unfair, it was nice and clear to me. Best one today has to be 16d.

    I got ‘ulster’ quite early on, but what is the point of ‘The reverse’ in the clue?

    1. I think Geoff because the clue says ‘powerful steroids hidden in coat’ when the coat is actually hidden in’powerf(ul ster)oids, in fact the reverse of what it tells you, I may be wrong but am sure someone will tell us if so :) well done

      1. Oh right, that makes more sense, even though I got the answer from the first bit of the clue.

  11. I struggled today but finally got there. Unlike most it seems 4d was one of my first answers, must be because it’s a common item in the Sherlock Holmes books

      1. Used to be Haplo meaning single or one I think in Latin and also a character from a fantasy novel, but for some reason that’s quite popular with men on the net ;-) so I added my girlfriend at the times name on the end Mary.

  12. Happy birthday boys.
    I didn’t find this all that easy making copious use of my crossword dictionaries (eclogues!!!) and having to revert to the blog for hints on 3. I spotted 4d but didn’t recognise it as a coat so left it out!! Duh! Especially liked 16d.

    1. I did exactly the same! I also did not find it easy…. some new words to me 5d, 14d and 28a.. and some of the other words were not the first to spring to mind like 1a 10a 13a… long way to go I fear before feeling confident about cryptics!

  13. Happy Birthday Dave and Libellule and thanks for all the hard work you and the rest of the team put in.

    Today’s puzzle left me cold – did not enjoy it at all – took a long time to get on the wave length and decided it was not worth it in the end.

  14. Many Happy Returns Dave and Libellule and Brenda.
    I have been having a long moan to myself today. I think I am on the same wavelength as Lea

      1. No – not the only one – this was not one of my favourites (or best) at all! Oh well – as BD often says it’s a good job we’re not all alike! Happy Birthday BD & Libellule – hope you’re celebrating right now!

  15. Couldn’t make any inroads to the SW corner until I read the blog. Other than that not a bad outing today. Nice to see the sun shining on your birthdays!

  16. I really enjoyed this and would grade it 3.5* – best and most demanding of the week so far for me. It was one of those puzzles where it took me a few read throughs to get away (7d) then slowly got through it. Best for me was 16d. Yes, I also missed 1a which is a new one for me and even more frustratingly did not get the second half of 9a. Other than that all done. Thanks Jay. A good ‘un.

  17. Didn’t get the telegraph today but thought I’d read the blog. Happy birthday guys and lang may your lum reek.
    Helen x

  18. BD – I’m early on parade this morning and have taken a wee scottish peek at the Cryptic. It’s awful and I can’t be bothered with it. Is it me or is it the DT Thursday thing???

    1. Just read your comment, and about to start it with a strong coffee … if 1d is anything to go by, I might throw the towel in too!

      1. OMG initial reading left me clueless but soon picked up on a few…now dormant again…will definately be needing the hints section later…..Dont envy you today big Dave…

  19. Read the comments on today’s cryptic so had to sneak a look. I am currently pretending to work (!) but have found that the down clues are easier than the across and this gives letters to help you go “doh” when you realise what the across clue means. Back to work and leaving the rest to lunchtime.

  20. First – Happy birthday to BD and Libellule and all the rest!
    Second – I have been very busy with planning holiday visits and other activities so had to abandon crossword solving for a while.
    Now re the puzzle.
    Quite a few anagrams and homophones in this one.
    I liked 1a, 9a, 23a & 27a. 2d, 12d & 17d.

    When did 11a become out-of-date???
    20a is a headmaster in Bonnie Scotland!

    1. Hi chadwick – welcome to the blog.
      I don’t think that we’ve had a comment from Kenya before. Are the puzzles reproduced in one of the Kenyan newspapers?

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