DT 26299 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26299

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26299

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

It’s mystery setter time again.  If you don’t enjoy charades, then you’d better give this one a miss!  A couple of good clues get all but drowned out by the rest, but they rescued this puzzle from one-star status.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Mark a black creepy-crawly (6)
{SCARAB} – a simple charade of a mark, A and B(lack) gives a creepy-crawly which is the sacred beetle of the ancient Egyptians

4a    Accordingly, let for hire off Cowes (6)
{SOLENT} – another charade, this one is accordingly and let for hire gives the name for the channel between coast of the Isle of Wight and the mainland (off the coast of Cowes)

8a    Transport company started transferring portable bed (8)
{CARRYCOT} – three charades in a row! – to transport, the abbreviation for CO(mpany) and the first letter of (started) Transferring gives a child’s portable bed

10a    Spoken verse — code I deciphered (6)
{VOICED} – a word meaning spoken comes from V(erse) and an anagram (deciphered) of CODE I

11a    Sordid beginning makes Eric a neurotic (4)
{MEAN} – a synonym for sordid is built up from the initial letters (beginning) of the rest of the clue

12a    One-sided lie, natural misbehaviour (10)
{UNILATERAL} – this word meaning one-sided is an anagram (misbehaviour) of LIE NATURAL

13a    Represent small people initially tolerating disparagement (12)
{BELITTLEMENT} – back with the charades – to represent, small, people and finally the initial letter of Tolerating combine to give a word meaning disparagement

16a    Manual cipher unravelling A1B2C3…, for example (12)
{ALPHANUMERIC} – a delightful anagram (unravelling) of MANUAL CIPHER gives an adjective that describes A1B2C3, or any other assorted letters and numbers

20a    Pilots’ direction finders (10)
{NAVIGATORS} – cryptic definition, double definition, or all-in-one? – my money is on the all-in-one, which is why I have highlighted it in blue

21a    Facts concerning a little lad returning (4)
{DATA} – the definition here is “facts concerning” – reverse (returning) A and a little lad (the more common use of this word is for a small amount)

22a    Residence for Father next to the French church (6)
{PALACE} – a very large and splendid residence for a monarch or a bishop is a charade of father, the in French and the Church of England

23a    Thrusting attempt by Crosby (8)
{STABBING} – a word meaning thrusting is a charade of an attempt and the first name of Crosby, the crooner best known for White Christmas

24a    Case for keeping diamonds cool? (6)
{ICEBOX} – a cryptic definition of a case used for storing and carrying cold food and drink

25a    Talks about America (6)
{STATES} – a double definition – the S in USA


1d    Mainly horizontal height! (3,5)
{SEA LEVEL} – a cryptic definition of the point halfway between high and low water – in the UK it is measured at Newlyn in Cornwall and Liverpool

2d    A couple on aircraft parking area (5)
{APRON} – a charade of A, an abbreviation for a couple and ON gives an aircraft parking area

3d    Judge a Catholic nobleman (7)
{ACCOUNT} – a word meaning to judge, as in to value, is yet another charade – A C(atholic) and a European nobleman

5d    Forestall ex-pupil by way of a note (7)
{OBVIATE} – a word meaning to forestall is, yes you’ve guessed, a charade of a former pupil, by way of and the seventh note of the scale in sol-fa notation

6d    I concentrate on record of earthquake’s origin (9)
{EPICENTRE} – this charade takes I and to contrite, or focus, on and puts them after an Extended Play record to get the origin of an earthquake

7d    Boot’s leading part in Steptoe caper (6)
{TOECAP} – the front part of a boot is hidden inside the last two words of the clue

9d    Spot erratic, wild dinosaur (11)
{TRICERATOPS} – an anagram (wild) of SPOT ERRATIC gives an herbivorous dinosaur of the Cretaceous period, having a horn over each eye and one on its nose

14d    Without life, inmate Ian reformed (9)
{INANIMATE} – a word meaning without life is a rather obvious anagram (reformed) of INMATE IAN

15d    Underworld takes care of swells (8)
{DISTENDS} – a charade of the Underworld (not the one on Corrie!) and a synonym for takes care of results in a verb meaning swells

17d    Inactive substance used to spot personal fragrance (7)
{PLACEBO} – an inactive substance used in clinical trials is a charade of a spot or location and unpleasant personal fragrance

18d    Parvenu at university inauguration (7)
{UPSTART} – this parvenu is a charade of a word meaning at university with an inauguration

19d    Sally’s French friend getting Italian sausage (6)
{SALAMI} – a charade of the shortened form of Sally with the French for a (male) friend gives an Italian sausage

21d    Something due from young lady coming out with sex appeal! (5)
{DEBIT} – our final charade today (hooray!) builds a word meaning something which is due from a young lady in her coming-out year with sex appeal

There are 27 clues, 15 of which are charades – it all makes for a very easy solve. Amid all that there were two clues which I quite liked, and they are highlighted in blue.

40 comments on “DT 26299

  1. Agree with rating, comments and favourite clues. (Great minds think alike???), Still it put me in a good mood for the superb toughie which I highly recommend to all.

  2. Thanks for the review Big Dave!

    That’s two in a row for me, a personal best :) Favourites were 16a and 20a (although I think I’ve seen that clue before somewhere). 4a was a new word for me, but I’m from North of the Border and so my geography of that area isn’t so great.

    BTW, you’ve left the down clues in black text!

    1. By which I meant down answers obviously…

      Maybe the crossword didn’t wake me properly up this morning.

  3. For me, this is one of those marmite puzzles… I am in the middle of the toughie, which I am enjoying more.
    Thanks to setter, and to BD.

      1. Yes, very good toughie! Completed on and off during the morning. Last 2 to go in were 3d, and 12a.

  4. Finished in quick time so rating is spot on. Agree with others – 16a best clue. As for 17d I much preferred Prolixic’s clue in NTSPP023 for the same answer.

  5. I simply raced through this today, not even a cup of coffee long. To think Thursday has long been my bogey day. Will try the toughie later. Does a cracker mean it is in the difficult league?

  6. Either this was easy or I’m improving but I don’t think that I’m improving

  7. Hi

    First Post! I found this site maybe six months ago, and just wanted to say thanks to all the writers here – I’ve been doing the DT crossword every morning for several years on the tube in the morning on the way to work, and finishing it at lunchtime (or trying to!); this site has noticeably improved my ability to complete the crossword – I used to get about halfway through the puzzle from London Bridge to Camden Town – now I finish it in that time about once every 2 weeks (including today – yay!); my record is London Bridge to King’s Cross (not that I’m competitive, honest :)

    Quick question – how much “help” is considered acceptable when doing the crossword? I kind of feel I’ve cheated if I look anything up at all – which is why I sometimes struggle with proper nouns as my general knowledge isn’t great (I was never going to get “Dixon” from yesterday’s Toughie for example) – but people refer to Chambers here as though looking words up in that is part of the accepted rules, as it were? Obviously I’m not talking about anagram solvers etc, but where’s the line – or does it really matter?


    1. Hi Zak – welcome to the blog and thanks for the kind words.

      We have discussions here from time to time on the subject of cheating, and as, you’d expect, there is a wide range of views. Some people go so far as to think that putting bar marks in the grid to separate words in an answer is cheating. My view is that doing crosswords is meant to be an enjoyable activity and, if “cheating” increases your enjoyment, then that’s fine. If you are “cheating” then the only person you’re cheating is yourself, so, if you can live with that, then carry on.
      By the way, in all the pictures I’ve seen of setters “at work” they all seem to be surrounded by reference books. So what’s sauce for the goose…

      1. Personally I have never seen it as cheating – more increasing my knowledge ready for the next time. I tend to work out what the word is and then check in a dictionary or on line to make sure I am not making it up. And just think, had I not been so desperate as to resort to googling a toughie clue back in April, I would never have found BD’s blog and missed out on all this good company and fun.

        1. Having reread this it might imply that I look up words all the time – I only check the really really obscure peculiar ones!

  8. Very straightforward crossword from our mystery setter that was well short of a two-stopper on the train this morning. Many thanks to setter and to BD for the review.

  9. Putting in the first few answers, I thought this could be a good puzzle. But there were a couple of good moments and at least I could do it.

    Thanks for puzzle and ever-helpful review, which, for the first time, I didn’t need.

  10. Dave, can you please explain the reference to ‘Corrie’ in the underworld clue?

      1. Ah, thank you. It’s years since I watched it. It was never the same after Ena Sharples and cronies stopped inhabiting the snug, and Annie Walker stopped crossing swords with Hilda Ogden and Elsie Tanner. Those were the days!

          1. Well they say you learn something every day, so I’ll consider it today’s contribution to my stock of knowledge.

  11. Enjoyable (because I finished it) puzzle today. Liked 1d (2nd to last to go), 20a (which i thought was a double definition), and 16a having done a bit of programming. 13a was the last to go as I was convinced it began with SP. Wasn’t sure I had 11a right as i thought it should have been “beginnings” (plural) although that would not have read well (how about “Sordid beginnings of my Eric, a neurotic”?) .

  12. Hi, just started cryptic crosswords 2 weeks ago. Do the DT at work with a colleague (she’s my sensai). Finished twice this week and looked on here for the final clue – 15d. I’m probably being thick but can someone explain why UNDERWORLD becomes what it does? Thanks

    1. Welcome to the blog splatcat

      From Chambers:

      Dis noun
      A name for the god Pluto, hence, the infernal world

      It’d used a lot in crosswords, but I don’t remember seeing it for a while.

  13. Thanks Big Dave – great site, I’ll try not to peek until I’m done but hope to be a regular…

  14. Well I really enjoyed this one, thank you mystery setter, I appreciate it was on the easy side but it is nice to have one that doesn’t make my headache once in a while, this was probably my bestest time ever :) but because i had to look up 2 words I still didn’t get a day out of the CC! Late blogging today, have been out looking at motorhomes, hoping to sell our boat and get one instead of it, so if anyone wants to buy a classic wooden motor cruiser…………………… sorry wrong site :) well done everyone and welcome splatcat, thanks for the blog once again Dave and thank you mystery setter, thoroughly enjoyable

  15. I was hoping this would last me a car journey in the passenger seat today, but I finished it before we set off! I enjoyed a couple of clues like 16a and 19d, then after that I didn’t feel that there was an awful lot going on… The crosswords we have had this week seem to be quite a diverse offering.

  16. On the subject of using reference books in order to find answers to some clues then I am all in favour.
    Sometimes I find myself looking in dictionaries or thesauri for a word only to discover new words I’d never heard of… Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable is particularly distracting but absolutely fascinating!

  17. Hi fellow xword fans.I swear that here in Kenya I never cheat by looking at answers in this blog.Somebody please help, DD=clergyman and TT=race .What do they mean?

    1. Hi Chadwick, these are two abbreviations:

      DD – Latin for Divinitas Doctor and also ‘Doctor of Divinity’ i.e. a clergyman

      TT – Tourist Trophy – There is a famous Motorcycle race on the Isle of Man in the UK called the Isle of Man T.T. It is a regular abbreviation in Crosswordland (also TT = TeeTotal, not drinking or abstinent.

    2. Doctor of Divinity (a degree in theology)
      Tourist Trophy – a motorcycle race, the most famous of which takes place on the Isle of Man.

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