Toughie 615 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 615

Toughie No 615 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Big Dave

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Although not too difficult (for me it took less time than today’s back-page puzzle), this was very enjoyable.

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    Plant putting oxygen in the sea (6)
{BRIONY} – an alternative spelling of this wild climbing plant, common in English hedgerows, is created by putting O(xygen) inside a poetic word for the sea

4a    Shrink from sound one records (8)
{ANNALIST} – what sounds like another word for a shrink or psychiatrist is actually someone who records events under the years in which they happened

10a    Carry before mass an object of veneration (5)
{TOTEM} – a charade of a verb meaning to carry and M(ass) gives an object venerated by Native Americans

11a    Sweet juice in Oriental fruit (9)
{NECTARINE} – a charade of a sweet juice, favoured by the Greek gods, with IN and the abbreviation for Oriental gives a citrus fruit

12a    Stir too, cooking this (7)
{RISOTTO} – an anagram (cooking) of STIR TOO gives something an Italian chef might cook

13a    One soaking old ham (7)
{EXACTOR} – the definition here is “one soaking”, in the sense of a racketeer, and it’s a charade of a two-letter suffix used for old and a ham in the theatre

14a    Drop-outs in fifties obtain teenager to groom (4,10)
{BEAT GENERATION} – this 1950s movement of young people who rejected conventional society is an anagram (to groom) of OBTAIN TEENAGER

17a    Plastic explosive in America fatally damaged organ (4,2,3,5)
{NEWS OF THE WORLD} – put a four-letter synonym of plastic and H(igh) E(xplosive) inside another name for the Americas to get a recently-closed newspaper – what, you’ve forgotten all about it already!

21a    One old instrument sent back hint of German threat to shipping (7)
{ICEBERG} – combine I (one), a medieval stringed instrument played with a bow reversed (sent back) and G (hint of German) to get a threat to shipping, particularly the Titanic

23a    One working in theatre: a jerk on a rope performing (7)
{SURGEON} – this theatre is the one in a hospital – a jerk on a rope is followed by a two-letter word for performing

24a    Rattletrap’s part of rubric: abracadabra! (9)
{BRICABRAC} – this rattletrap is hidden inside the last two words of the clue

25a    I’ve no excited last words (5)
{ENVOI} – an anagram (excited) of I’VE NO gives the short stanza concluding a poem

26a    Farceur gets English cross (8)
{TRAVERSE} – I can hear the cries of “unfair!” from the younger solvers! – the name of a playwright who wrote a number of farces is followed by E(nglish) to get a word meaning to cross

27a    Secret police’s arrest (6)
{STASIS} – drop the apostrophe from the possessive form of the East German Secret police to get a word meaning the arrest of blood circulation


1d    It covers up British beating European (8)
{BATHROBE} – this item of clothing covers up after a shower – it’s a charade of B(ritish), a word meaning beating and E(uropean)


2d    Not willing to get right off major road in US (9)
{INTESTATE} – an adjective meaning not having made a will before one dies is created by dropping the R(ight) from a major road in the US

3d    Identification upset person controlling admission (4,3)
{NAME TAG} – this badge identifying the person to which it is fixed is created by reversing a person who controls admission to an event

5d    Branch of science battling cancers pushily (7,7)
{NUCLEAR PHYSICS} – this Branch of science is an anagram (pushily) of BATTLING CANCERS

6d    Very hard old rocker (7)
{ADAMANT} – a word meaning very hard or determined, when split (4,3) gives a not-so-old rocker – I preferred the clue in yesterday’s Wee Stinker: Unyielding yielding Goddard (7)

7d           Fool — I spot one being taken in (5)
{IDIOT} – this fool is created from I and a spot with I (one) inserted

8d           The American taxmen will get what belongs to them (6)
{THEIRS} – combine THE and the American taxmen and the result is a word meaning “belongs to them”

9d           Onset of gremlins in foundries ruin cast with insignificant numbers discarded (2,5,7)
{IN ROUND FIGURES} – put G (Onset of Gremlins) inside an anagram (cast) of FOUNDRIES RUIN to get a phrase meaning “to the nearest convenient large number” or “with insignificant numbers discarded”

15d         You and I in reference works solver uses endlessly (9)
{OURSELVES} – a first person plural pronoun for “you and I” is an anagram (works) of SOLVER USE(S) without the final S (endlessly)

16d         They may cause snoring noise Dad put out (8)
{ADENOIDS} – the definition is “they may cause snoring” and they are an anagram (put out) of NOISE DAD

18d         Leak reference in Daily Telegraph? (7)
{SEEPAGE} – if this leak is split (3,4) it could be a reference instructing you to look somewhere else in the newspaper

19d         Weapon held by Europe and America with most enthusiasm (7)
              Most dangerous weapon held by Europe and America (7) – newspaper version
{WARMEST} – put a weapon inside how Europe and America are collectively known to get an adjective meaning  with most enthusiasm

The definition used for the newspaper version is a bit tenuous, to say the least

20d         Bird pecked tasty morsel (6)
{TITBIT} – a charade of a small bird (3) and a word meaning pecked (3) gives a tasty morsel

22d         Fine Australian shrub (5)
{ERICA} – the blood-fine paid by a murderer to his victim’s family in old Irish law is followed by A(ustralian) to get a plant of the heath genus

This puzzle definitely grew on me as I wrote the review.  Welcome back Messinae after a long rest.

23 comments on “Toughie 615

  1. The second entertaining puzzle of the day – took me a smidge longer than the back page. My favourites were the topical 17a and the laugh-out-loud 7d. Thanks to Messinae and to BD too.

  2. Rather more straightforward than most toughies but cannot do 19d. Have all the letters but it still makes no sense.
    Awaiting BD’s enlightenment!
    25ac was new to me.
    Favourite clue 8d. So smooth!

    1. The first and last three letters of the answer you have describe the position of US and Europe in the world The second, third and fourth letter are commonly used in cryptic to describe ‘weapon’

            1. That’s correct for the newspaper version. Why is there a difference between the newspaper and online versions? When do they decide to make a change and why?

                1. Sorry, the questions should have been directed to someone else.

                  Mr McNeil?

                  However, It would be interesting to know the answers. (Does he read this blog?)

  3. Gentle start to the Toughie week but quiet entertaining favourite clue has to be 17a thanks to Messinae and to Big Dave for the comments.

  4. In my post for the back page crossword I said that it was marginally easier than the toughie and I stand by that, however this was equally entertaining so thanks to Messinae and to BD.

  5. I also found this easier than the back-pager but enjoyed it nonetheless. I learned something new with 22d – I got the answer from the letters but hadn’t heard of the blood money definition. Favourite clues probably 4a and 8d. Anagrams rarely figure in my favourites but I loved the fodder at 14a – one I won’t forget! Thanks to Messinae and Dave.

  6. I would echo Pommer’s sentiments above – this was first rate and a really fun solve – I threw ERICA in from the definition and the checking letters but the ERIC was unknown to me (or forgotten) 17a was good but there were plenty more fun clues – 14a, 8d and 16d to name a few. 8d in hanks to Messinae (and welcome back) and to BD for the review. lots to live up to this week!

  7. Nice and easy does it……. Thanks to Messinae for an enjoyable puzzle, and to BD for the review.
    My last two in were 1a/1d. With 1a, I initially only considered the sea ending in an ‘e’, not a ‘y’, but as google pointed out, there was no such plant!

  8. I really enjoyed this- good puzzle.

    Favourite was 4a……
    But in 1d… “athrob” as a word….. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!
    Good stuff, keep it up!

  9. I love this website. I finish crossword every day thanks to you, BD – I think I love you too! And completed toughie for first time ever! Tho am bit bemused as it seemed easier than back page….

  10. Just catching up on the week’s Toughies. Really enjoyed this crossword from Messinae. It did not take too long to solve but was a joy to tackle. Many thanks to Messinae for the crossword and to BD for the review.

Comments are closed.