DT 26478 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26478

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26478

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

It Ray T’s turn again this week – confirmed by the single word clues and answers in the Quick crossword. I found this a bit harder than usual, largely because of the way Ray exploits the lesser-used definitions of some words.

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    Persuasion of French bird gripped by desire (12)
{DENOMINATION} – a trick one to start – persuasion in the sense of religion is constructed from the French for “of” followed by an Asian bird that has the its ability to mimic the human voice inside a desire or inclination

9a    Urge one obstinate animal, endlessly in bother (9)
{STIMULATE} – A word meaning to urge is created by putting I (one) and most of an obstinate animal inside a bother or predicament

10a    Macbeth? A new title inside (5)
{THANE} – hidden inside the first three words of the clue is a title accorded to a chieftain

11a    Old Right, for example, concerned with state (6)
{OREGON} – combine O(ld), R(ight), the Latin abbreviation of “for example” and a word meaning concerned with to get this US state

12a    Study mime around Paris possibly (8)
{APPRAISE} – a word meaning to study or evaluate is derived by putting a word meaning to mime or copy around an anagram (possibly) of PARIS

13a    One tries duck taken from grill (6)
{TASTER} – someone who samples food is constructed by dropping the O (duck / score of zero in cricket) from a kitchen grill

15a    Outfit in men’s wear (8)
{GARMENTS} – put a word meaning an outfit or group of people inside a synonym for men’s to get items to wear

18a    Drug supplier with some speed accepting abuse (8)
{PHARMACY} – this supplier of (legal) drugs is created by putting a word meaning “with some speed” around (accepting) abuse or injury

19a    Credit one’s doubled creating catastrophe (6)
{CRISIS} – a charade of CR(edit) and I’S (ones) repeated (doubled) creates a catastrophe

21a    Burn remains finally and turn to dust (8)
{SMOULDER} – a word meaning to burn slowly is built from S (remainS finally) and dust or loose soft earth

23a    Front when American spooks chase foreign leader (6)
{FASCIA} – a covering put on the front is constructed by putting a synonym for when (2) and the American agency responsible for providing national security intelligence after F (Foreign leader)

26a    Quits from missus, never coming back (5)
{EVENS} – a colloquial word meaning quits or equal is hidden (from) and reversed (coming back) inside the middle two words of the clue

27a    Fugitive fled, then is back in camp (9)
{TRANSIENT} – a word meaning fugitive or short-lived is created by putting a synonym for fled and IS reversed (back) inside a verb meaning to camp in a temporary shelter

28a    A cracking job! (12)
{CRYPTOGRAPHY} – a cryptic definition of study of deciphering codes


1d           Detective’s left following caper (7)
{DISPORT} – a senior detective is followed by the ‘S and the nautical term for left to give a verb meaning to caper or frolic

2d           Sound of hooter round middle of shift (5)
{NOISE} – this sound is created by putting the facial feature colloquially called a hooter around the middle letter of shIft

3d           Gold fish kept in quiet gloomy place (9)
{MAUSOLEUM} – put the chemical symbol for gold and a flatfish from Dover inside a word meaning keeping quiet to get a gloomy place or tomb

4d           Close charged up around end of crease (4)
{NEAR} – a word meaning close or within reach is created by reversing (up, in a down clue) a word meaning charged or raced around E (end of creasE)

5d           Actor Hines, tap dancing (8)
{THESPIAN} – another word for an actor is an anagram (dancing) of HINES TAP – brings back memories of Jamie McCrimmon in Dr Who and Joe Sugden in Emmerdale!

6d           Sort of fur’s lavish on Queen (5)
{OTTER} – this short brown fur from an aquatic mammal is a charade of lavish or Over The Top and Her Majesty

7d           Wheezes with fastener packing cases (8)
{PATIENTS} – put a word meaning wheezes or gasps around a fastener uses for holding, for example, cables together to get these medical cases – the last one in for me and for many others!

8d           Regarding Church vessel from apse (6)
{RECESS} – a charade of regarding or concerning (2), the Church of England and a vessel or ship gives an apse

14d         Older offspring embracing a boy (8)
{SEASONED} – a word meaning older or matured is derived by putting offspring around A and a boy

16d         Bird’s short answer in union (9)
{MERGANSER} – to get this fish-eating diving duck with a long, thin serrated and hooked bill put ANS(wer) inside a union or amalgamation

17d         Sort of bottle shown by gang in arrest (8)
{SCREWTOP} – this sort of bottle is generated by putting a gang or squad inside a word meaning to arrest or stem

18d         Harry’s noble, good man inside (6)
{PESTER} – a word meaning to harry or annoy is derived by putting a nobleman (4) around a good man (2)

20d         Embarrassed about growth getting dark (7)
{SWARTHY} – put a word meaning embarrassed or timid around a small, benign growth on the skin to get a word meaning dark or tanned

22d         Has-been Labour leader rose unsteadily (5)
{LOSER} – this has-been or perhaps never-has-been is constructed from L(abour) and an anagram (unsteadily) of ROSE – the mind boggled at which of a long list of has-been Labour leaders the setter had in mind!

24d         Vulgar bloke grabbing blonde’s butt (5)
{CHEAP} – an adjective meaning vulgar or shoddy is derived by putting a bloke around (grabbing) E (blondE‘s butt)

25d         Tortilla always containing other starters (4)
{TACO} – the initial letters (starters) of the first four words in the clue give another starter, this one is a very thin rolled pancake with a meat filling, usually fried crisp

Thanks for the challenge Ray – I doubt we’ll see Barrie today!

The Quick crossword pun: (misses} + {hippie} = (Mississippi}

116 comments on “DT 26478

  1. I certainly found this harder than normal with what I described as ‘A bugger of a definition’ for the CASES clue in the downs. That would certainly apply to a few others but on the whole this was a really good challenge that hit the spot very nicely.
    Thanks to RayT and to BD for the review.

  2. Boy was that tough today! Excellent puzzle, which took me forever to finish. I had 5 clues left, which took me as long to complete as the rest of it.
    Thanks to RayT, and to BD.

      1. 7d/15a/16d yes – the other 2 were 28a/20d. ‘A cracking job’ I kept thinking along the lines of chiropractor!

          1. The Pommers got 16d immediately on first reading – having been a twitcher in his youth.
            Me? never heard of the little rascals.

              1. Goosander, a type of merganser, came up in one of the weekend GKs – can’t remember which.

  3. Hi Dave agree with all the comments above! Definitely at least a 4* for me and a toughie in lots of parts, finished without hints but with lots and lots of ‘help’ last one in for me was 7d, just couldn’t see it, definitely a toughie clue! but so obvious once you get it! also put h in wrong place in 20d! and 16d whoever has heard of this must be an ornithologist! however 3 favourite clues 26a, 19a and 24d, a tough week this week! thanks for hints off to read them now

    1. 16d was quite easy for me – if you ever get to see them, you’ll find out why we refer to them as ‘go-faster’ ducks. Definite toughie today, especially 7d. Favourite clue today was 28a.

        1. no never read McBeth, did Shakespeare in school but not Mcbeth, yes I have heard of Cawdor and thane but Ethan jumped out at me being a Welsh name :)

            1. another bit of useless information, Mcbeth died some time before the title Thane of Cawdor was introduced and has no connection with the castle at all!

          1. Must admit that these days, whenever I see the name Ethan, I assume that the lad’s from Essex (although I believe the technical spelling from there is wiv a F)

  4. Before I plunge into the murky world of exchange rates for sterling against the US dollar & the bloody Euro I’ve just had time to look at some of the comments & I’ve got to say they do not bode well for my evening foray into Crosswordland. Wish me luck everybody & I’ll see you on the other side if we’re spared…

      1. A 10 day tour of our distributors in the Caribbean. Sounds glamorous? It will be 9 flights in those 10 days from Heathrow to Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Curacao, Bahamas. Then back to Heathrow via Miami. I’ve got some “beach time” booked in St Lawrence Gap in Barbados though!

  5. I too found this really really tough and needed the law of the Gnome etc before I got to the end. This is definitely another one of those RayT puzzles that should have appeared in the middle of the paper under the name of Beam. My clue of the day has to be the one that caused me the most trouble 7d. Thanks to the Gnome, Ray and BD.

    I have struggled equally with today’s Toughie. I don’t think it can just be my poor old brain because I have managed to finish the Times crossword in a very reasonable time.

  6. I must admit defeat and wait for 7d. Had to reverse engineer several and look up the bird which was new to me. Should have been a toughie! Off to lie in a darkened room now.

    1. When I finally got 7d, I described it to Gnomey as ‘D’oh D’Oh double treble D’oh” – it was easier than kicking myself :D

  7. Agreeing with lots of comments here. Just needed BD’s hint to get 7d. I was nowhere near!

    Dave’s summary hit the nail on the head – difficult due to use of lesser-known definitions. It was also trickly to get going for me today – like a proper Toughie.

    Thanks for hints BD – rarely have they been more necessary!

  8. Very tough for me. Even tough for crypticsue! Finished, but have a bad headache due to brain nearly shutting down. Hoping the motor skills are still functioning as I make a cuppa on the way for a lie down.

    Top quality puzzle though. Thanks again.

  9. That wasn’t easy! Unknown words everywhere…

    * I did not know the bird and had to verify that my constructed answer is valid by consulting Wikipedia.
    * Never heard of 1d
    * Never saw 27a used in that sense
    * 13a ditto

    Great fun, though.

    Beautiful surfaces!

    Hearing why tanked bastard, having crashed, finds two reasons for gratitude (6,4,3,3,4)

  10. Gor blimey mate is all I can say!! Well that was a bit tricky wasn’t it? SO glad that it got 4* for difficulty – should have been about 10!!
    Came to grief completely with five clues – all the ones that most people have already mentioned (except 16d – have a very good friend who is a great birder – he’s also an artist and has drawn them, so I did know that) – also 14 and 17d – still can’t do them – will just have to be patient and wait for the rest of the down hints!!
    I’ve never seen the bird in 1a spelt like that – have always spelt it with a ‘Y and with or without an “H” at the end so that confused me for a while.
    Like Mary, also started of badly by making 10a “Ethan” (and I DID do “Macbeth” at school) but corrected that quite quickly.
    Lots of great clues – too many to mention them all.
    Thanks to Ray T and Big Dave – NEVER, in all the time that I’ve been reading this blog, have they been more needed.

    1. Kath, I’ve just found out they ARE issuing tickets for the Giovanni workshop and I elected to get mine at the door. Might be a plan to give them a call and see how late you could apply to attend, if free that day.

    2. Kath – I get frustrated too when they spell the bird like this. Should have an H on the end, and really it should be a Y not an I

  11. Wow, what a struggle. RayT certainly works on the grey matter. 7 and 15 took me ages so I award them clues of the day. All the rest were good with no abbs. Now for the toughie, or have I already done it?

  12. What a relief to see how much other people struggled. I got about half way before resorting to the blog and think I could have tied my brain in knots until this time next week and still not finished without Dave´s help! Time for a siesta after all that.

  13. Managed to finish without using the hints, but then had to find out why 15a was correct. I was trying to fit MEN into the word; so obvious when you see the solution. What can I say that hasn’t already – how about 28a?

  14. I’m new at this crossword game. I found this website some time ago and it has really, really helped me get to grips with some of the most obscure clues. Today, however, even with your clues, I am having a tough time. Sometimes I just don’t think I am on the same wavelength as the setter.


    1. Hi Julie, don’t be disheartened todays was particularly hard as has most of this week been more difficult than normal!

    2. It was a REALLY tough crossword today but this is a wonderful blog (yet again, thanks to Big Dave and all the clever people who help the rest of us every day) – everyone very helpful and friendly.

  15. I actually found this a lot harder than today’s Toughie!

    Like many 7d was last in and favourite’s were 10a and 28a.

    Weather warmer and sunny today but a bit breezy so needed a paperweight on the crossword!

    1. Although hard, we thoroughly enjoyed it. My fave clue – 28a, spent several happy months looking into encryption for the online system of the bank I worked for, so it made me smile!
      Thanks BD for the blog and to RAYT for exercising my brain

  16. Syperb crossword from RayT, very enjoyable indeed, fav. clue was 28a. Thanks for the review Dave.

    1. Mary – I’m with you today. Pommers and I finished it without any help BUT (and it’s a big BUT) it took both of us 10 minutes longer than it took Pommers to do today’s toughie. Phew!!
      Thanks for your thoughts yesterday – it wasn’t an ordeal, that was last week when he was doing all the grinding to get me ready for my new front teeth! They were my Christmas present so guess what he’s been singing since November when all this started?
      Re-teeth: My dentist here says there are 2 or 3 very good people who do implants locally at a mere €1000 per tooth. Might be worth having a holiday here ?

      1. Now let me guess?……….would it be ‘All I want for Christmas etc………………..!
        I have found a couple of clinics that do them over here, one in Brighton the others in Shrewsbury and Bristol, much cheaper than my dentist, don’t know what to do yet! You never know I may land up on your doorstep!!

  17. I can only agree with all the above comments – this was really hard going [in a challenging sense] and worthy of a Toughie. I got there in the end, but needed help on 7d, even though I had all the checking letters from the across words, I just couldn’t see it and needed the hint from BD. So thanks to RayT for a superb crossword and BD for the review

  18. Just another quick thought before I take the hairy four-legged impatient one for a walk – what does it take for a crossword to get 5* for difficulty?!!!

    1. We have had several Toughies with 5* difficulty.

      To get that level from me for a daily puzzle I have to lose, or be close to losing, my bonus points online – put simply it must have taken me over 40 minutes to solve.

      1. I know you don’t like people saying how long the crossword takes to solve but, just out of interest, how long, on an average day – call it a 3* for difficulty – does it take you, and all the other people who write the hints, to do it? Or am I ‘out of order’ in asking this? I can’t really see how this would discourage others – just something to aspire to!

        1. It’s a very reasonable question, Kath.

          It obviously varies from person to person, but the rule that I use is that a 3* puzzle should take 25 minutes, give or take 5 minutes. This allows for the fact that entering online takes me longer than on paper and I almost always resolve all of the wordplay for each clue at the time of entering, whether I’m blogging it or not. For a top solver, like Peter Biddlecombe, that would be nearer to 10 minutes. The reason for the star rating is to help people like yourself judge whether it’s an easy or hard puzzle and you should allocate your own timescales for this. If, for example, most of my 3* puzzles take you an hour then you should expect longer than that for a 4* puzzle and less for 2*. There are so few 5* puzzles because the Telegraph hardly ever publishes a regular cryptic that is really difficult.

          For Toughies you can add about a third to the times, as they are expected to be that much harder.

          1. I can concur with BD’s assessment. If we are talking about today’s puzzle then I can say that I was about the same time as BD which is 50% longer than a 2/3 star puzzle, I knew that I was sweating!.
            It isn’t just a couple of difficult clues that up the rating but the puzzle as a whole. This one , for example, was solved in approximately the same time as the Toughie today and I found them both very good puzzles. When one solves regularly in a consistent environment then one can gauge the difficulty level.

            1. Hi Gnomey
              This convesation could go on forever as difficulty rating is so personal. At least from BD’s post I now have a yardstick to judge by but, for example, today without the typing cock up on 11d I would have done the Toughie in about 40 minutes. I spent ages in the SE corner before realising the checking letters were wrong!
              The RayT took myself and pommette about an hour but that was over lunch so eating etc does interfere so how long it really took is anyone’s guess. we have an agreement that pommette has the print and the pen and reads out the clues but I’m not allowed to say the answer unless she asks or asks for a clue -then I act like a surrugate blogger and give a hint.

              1. Yep – It is your own yardstick and one must always remember when one buggers off for a fag or something. It is only recently that I have been in the unenviable position to be able to solve in one hit at home with a ‘clock’.
                No problems with the absolute times – they come and go but I think that we all called this one a hard one.
                I won’t mention times any more here but you ain’t doing bad!

                1. Because pommette is a bit more of a beginner than me she likes us to do the cryptic on paper over lunch. To be fair she does the xword and I do it in my head but she likes me to be there as an on-tap source of BD type hints when necessary. Works for me.
                  The Toughie I do, or not as the case may be, over breakfast on-line so the timer is there in front of you so that’s the only guide I get to how long things are taking!
                  Not bothered personally as I don’t coner it a race (unlike some who post on other xword blogs)!

        1. Hi Geoff
          Always hope. Keep at it and read the reviews on this blog and somehow it all comes together!
          I first did cryptics as a postgrad 35 years ago and came back to them about 5 years ago when I retired but usually managed only about 2/3 of a DT puzzle. Then I found BDs blog a year ago and and improved rapidly. It’s now been several weeks since I was defeated by a cryptic and I’ve finished the last 3 Toughies! Read the hints and you’ll learn the code and the tricks the setters use!
          When I first posted on this blog I said something along the lines of being a xword nerd and glad to find others. BD’s reply was “just because you’ve found a load of other nerds doesn’t mean you aren’t one!”.

            1. Memory, and stomach, like an elephant! Even remembered the ens and ems.
              I thought it a great comment and a very friendly welcome to the forum/blog, whatever the correct term is – I’m not a computer nerd!

  19. A very enjoyable crossword. Lots of struggling through which I find great.
    Thanks to Ray T and Big Dave

  20. Must be having an off day, I really struggled with this one so marked it 2 – didnt really enjoy it at all. Thanks for the hints as always.

  21. Yes, trickiest one fof the week so far! Like most of us 7d and 16d were the ones to go in last – not so surprising as I’ve never heard of this type of duck at all -in fact I couldn’t believe there was such a bird when I worked the clue out logically!! Many thanks to Ray and Dave for making an enjoyable poser and clues for all of us cruciverbalists!

  22. There’s very little for me to add about todays puzzle only to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, 28a brought CS to mind.Thanks to Ray T and Big Dave for the review.

  23. A little more difficult than the usual back-page puzzle, but very enjoyable. Nice compact clues, too.

    Great stuff.

    1. I believe that one of Ray T’s self-imposed rules is that his clues have a maximum length of eight words.

  24. Well, that was a complete stinker as far as I’m concerned!! But I don’t seem to be alone, after reading the comments. Am obviously NOT on Ray T’s wavelength at all. How come “concerned” (11a) can be interpreted as it is, please?? I did get the answer, but that bit didn’t make sense. Would never, ever have solved 28a I don’t think – was also going down the line of safebreaking. Many thanks for hints Big D, or would still have a 9/10th unfinished Xword! Onward and upward – perhaps Firday’s will be easier?

    1. ON=”concerned with”

      – as in “On Autumn” by Keats, or “On the Origin of Species” by Darwin.

  25. I got about two thirds of the way through this and then hit a wall, with the same ones as everyone else! For 7d I could only think of ‘rasps’ for ‘wheezes’ which really didn’t help (not sure I think the word used really means the same thing), and I’ve never heard of the duck. But thoroughly enjoyed the challenge – favourites included 19 & 28a and 3 & 18d.
    Thanks to Jay and BD – wouldn’t have completed today without the hints.

  26. Cracking crossword today – mostly completed in the Swan in Hanley Swan BD! Thought we would pay homage to the home of the blog with a superb rare roast beef and horseradish sandwich. And the chips were good too.

      1. BD – we’ll let you know next time we’re back. There’s a trio of sausage and black pudding on the menu with our names on it.

  27. Thank you Qix – of course, when you point it out! So many interpretations for such a little word!

  28. Thanks to BD for the 28a, both clue and solution…

    I’m glad that most of you enjoyed it, and there will be some easier ones to come!

    Ray T

    1. Hello Ray
      You can keep them like this if you want! I thought it a great challenge and was well pleased to crack it!
      Thanks for what must have been a lot of work.

  29. As there don’t appear to be any after eighters around I’m going to bed in a few minutes.
    Up early tomorrow as we’re hosting a Bridge teams evetn here tomorrow. Only 2 teams but it takes a fair bit of setting up.

    1. I’m busy writing up the review for Sunday’s Puzzle from Virgilius and am then going to bed to get up early and play Golf at a rather nice course. It is one of or society do’s and I have also provided the certificates.
      Night All!.

  30. Hello all After Eighters. As I said yesterday back late this evening and just picked up the paper and on first glance looks a very tricky cw. Anyone still around? Watching 10 o’clock Live so will take me even longer to do!

    1. Hi Ainsley
      It’s well worth a look but not easy! Excellent puzzle. The general consensus seems to be that BD’s 4* difficulty is about right. I found today’s Toughie a lot easier!

        1. If it’s any help I would remember BD’s comment in the intro about lesser used definitions of some of the words – think a bit outside the box!

    2. Hi Ainsley – still around but about not to be! Very tricky crossword – enjoyable as they always are, but without the hints (and answers in some cases) I would still have a few gaps left today! Good luck. A distinct lack of After Eighters – all exhausted?

  31. Ouch! Major headache here, grinding to a pitiful halt after only just over half completed. Not done this badly for a long time, and am suitably chastened with ears down and tail between my legs!

  32. Completed it in end only with the help of the blog. Twas a stinker, but disappointed with myself, a D minus for pianydd today I fear! Still, I take heart that the Rex et Imperator (have I got that right?) is setting tomorrow. Hoping for a B plus!

  33. With a Giovanni, you tend to almost, and I mean almost, know what you get. That lulls you into a misguided sense of security, and you go on all sorts of tangents, led by fishy things (herrings?) in shades varying from pink to crimson. All injected with with either a chuckle or raised eyebrow at the cleverness of the clue. Yes, very much a Friday fan here.

    1. Agree absolutely and couldn’t have put it better! Also like Virgilius on a Sunday for similar reasons.

  34. Ah, must look for that – is it in the Sunday Telegraph? Sundays are generally busy for me, so reading a newspaper let alone doing a crossword can be tricky, but will force time if necessary!

  35. Finished this at work tonight and even though it was by far one of the hardest I’ve done thoroughly enjoyed it, loved all the comments today and it just goes to show what a mixed bunch of bloggers we are. :D
    Thanks Ray T and BD.

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