Toughie 619 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 619

Toughie No 619 by Warbler

Flying High

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Just over two weeks I had the great pleasure of meeting Warbler and her husband – see photo on the blog’s facebook page. Today I have the great pleasure of reviewing one of her puzzles. Try to solve 24 across early on, as it is the key to several of the other answers.

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.


7a    After knitting use new grey jumper (8)
{GUERNSEY} – an anagram (after knitting) of USE N(ew) GREY gives a close-fitting knitted woollen jumper from the Channel Islands

9a    Golden centre of violet’s one of 24 (6)
{ORIOLE} – a charade of the heraldic term for gold and the middle letters (centre) of (V)IOLE(T) gives our first themed answer

10a    First of all swirling clouds unerringly do this (4)
{SCUD} – the initial letters of (first of all) four words in the clue give a verb meaning to sweep along easily and swiftly, like clouds

11a    Lowering grade to include English stage (10)
{RELEGATING} – a verb meaning lowering or downgrading, perhaps to a lower division in the Football League, is created by putting a grade around E(nglish) and a stage of a competition

12a    Grant keeps a new variety of 24 (6)
{CANARY} – putting the surname of a star of the silver screen first disguises the required capitalisation – put his first name around A and N(ew) to get a thematic answer

14a    Metal hoop top falls away breaking shoulder blade (8)
{OMOPLATE} – an anagram (breaking) of METAL and (H)OOP without its initial letter (top falls away) gives another word for the shoulder blade or scapula

15a    and 17: Empty resort left abandoned as one of 24 (6,6)
{STORMY PETREL} – an anagram (abandoned) of EMPTY RESORT L(eft) gives, you’ve guessed it, a thematic answer

17a    See 15a

20a    At hospital emergency room a medical officer reviewed cyst (8)
{ATHEROMA} – AT, H(ospital and Emergency Room followed by A and Medical Officer all reversed (reviewed) gives a cyst with contents of a porridge-like consistency

22a    Bath for each one of 24 (6)
{DIPPER} – a charade of a bath (3) and a synonym of “for each” gives a thematic answer

23a    European wives, one after the other, love husband (10)
{DUTCHWOMAN} – this European is a charade of a Cockney slang word for a wife, W(ife), O (love) and a husband

24a    Prayers to Mary for group of fliers (4)
{AVES} – the shortened form of the Latin prayers to Maria, the Virgin Mary, gives a word for these flyers which form the theme of today’s puzzle

25a    Designer losing power is one of 24 (6)
{LANNER} – start with a designer and drop the initial P(ower) to get a thematic answer

26a    Mac could become an international actor (8)
{RAINCOAT} – this mac is an anagram (could become) of AN I(nternational) ACTOR


1d    Better when not in order (8)
{OUTCLASS} – this verb meaning to better or surpass is a charade of “not in” followed by a division in biological classification

2d    Generated money so to speak (4)
{BRED} – a verb meaning generated or bring forth sounds like (so to speak) a slang word for money

3d    One of 24’s large victim (6)
{OSPREY} – this thematic answer is a charade of a large clothing size and a victim

4d    Puzzle over covering for wild plant (8)
{FOXGLOVE} – put a verb meaning to puzzle or deceive over (in a down clue) a covering for the hand to get a wild plant with spikes of drooping bell-shaped flowers

5d    When flying, pilots have a firm hold on this camera handle (6,4)
{PISTOL GRIP} – an anagram (when flying) of PILOTS is followed by a firm hold to get this camera handle

6d    In Spain the afternoon’s clear for one of 24 (6)
{ELANET} – the definite article in Spain is followed by A(fternoon) and a word meaning clear of all deductions to give yet another thematic answer

8d    To shout ‘It hurts!’ is not very brave (6)
{YELLOW} – a charade of to shout and a cry of “it hurts” gives someone who is cowardly or not very brave

13d    ‘O let’s dance!’ burst out young person (10)
{ADOLESCENT} – an anagram (burst out) of O LET’S DANCE gives a young person

16d    Plant dug over town moor (8)
{MOONWORT} – this fern with a single small frond of fan-shaped lobes and a separate spike bearing the spore-producing organs is an anagram (dug over) of TOWN MOOR

18d    Subject’s position say climbing on isle (8)
{LIEGEMAN} – to get this subject who owed feudal allegiance to a nobleman start with the position of a golf ball then reverse (climbing) the Latin abbreviation of say or for example and finish with an island in the Irish Sea

19d    Severely criticise old film company (6)
{HAMMER} – a double definition – severely criticise or an old film company known for its horror movies

21d    One of 24’s duo broadcast about noon (6)
{TOUCAN} – this thematic answer comes from a charade of a three-letter syllable that sounds like (broadcast) a duo, the two-letter abbreviation of the Latin for about and N(oon)

22d    Name for bishop in Irish city is one of 24 (6)
{DUNLIN} – swap N(ame) for B(ishop) in the Irish capital to get our final thematic answer

24d    On rising Socrates hides bow (4)
{ARCO} – hidden and reversed (rising) inside the third word of the clue is the bow of a stringed instrument or a musical direction to play with the bow (marking the end of a pizzicato passage)

One minor gripe: when the answer to a clue is referenced in other clues, and the number of that clue could refer to an across answer or a down one, it is customary to suffix the references in order to uniquely identify them.

16 comments on “Toughie 619

  1. Well, Warbler, what a start to Tuesday – I did like the theme although there didn’t seem to be a warbler in there! I actually got some of the themed answers first which then enabled me to get 24a. Quite tough for a Tuesday, I thought, Thank you to Warbler, my favourite clue was 23a. Thanks to BD too.

  2. Most pleasurable start to Toughie week enjoyed the theme favourites were 23a 6d and 19d. Thanks to Warbler and to Big Dave for the comments.

  3. I personally think this deserves a much higher difficulty rating, I found it pretty hard going even after getting the theme, some words I have never heard of (14a,20a 6d and 24d ). Very enjoyable however . Thanks to Warbler for stretching my meagre intellect and to BD for the hints.

  4. Thanks to Warbler & Big Dave. Quite difficult for me to say what the puzzle was like, because I only solved 9 and a half clues myself :-) I got another 14 and a half from the hints, and 4 completely flummoxed me, including 24a. However I did realise the bird theme, but hadn’t heard of some of them. How this can be 2* for difficulty I don’t know. Still, that said, the clues were well constructed. Obviously the Toughies are well-named! Favourite was 14a, I learnt a new word there.

    1. I may have understated the difficulty, but that was based on my personal solving time (aided by Chambers to confirm several answers).

      1. Thanks Big Dave, your hints were very helpful. I’ll keep trying the Toughies, and hopefully I can improve my solving.

  5. i got 24a straight away, unusual for me to get the theme, but found I hadn’t heard of quite a few of the birds . lovely pictures, no scantily dressed birds today !
    For 20a I tried to make casualty out of it from the letters of cyst. I think atheroma refers more to fatty deposits in the arteries, rather than a cyst. Also, I have even though I studied some anatomy as an undergraduate, i had never heard the scapula called the omoplate.

    My ancient copy of Grey’s Anatomy, secondhand even when my father used it, hasn’t got it either :perhaps it is American usage ?
    I don’t mean to be critical of the clues, i couldn’t even begin to set a crossword like this, so vmt to the appropriately named warbler..

    1. From the Big Red Book:

      atheroma (pathology)
      noun (pl atherōˈmas or atherōˈmata)
      A cyst with contents of a porridge-like consistency
      ORIGIN: Gr athērōma, from athērē or atharē porridge

      The shoulder-blade or scapula
      ORIGIN: Gr ōmoplatē, from ōmos shoulder, and platē blade

    2. Omoplate is very obscure and, I think, used largely in France. It’s of Greek origin, while the more usual “scapula” is derived from Latin.

    3. Again thanks to Warbler for a brill puzzle!

      Just one thing re what you’re talking about: isn’t atheroma a type of arteriosclerosis as opposed to a cyst?

  6. I can only congratulate Warbler for “1 downing” Mary Riddell (whose column can be relied on to drive me to the depths of despair).

  7. I would put this a bit higher in difficulty based on my solving time but it is all in the eye of the reviewer. A fun puzzle that kicked me out of the usual Tuesday Toughie reverie. Many thanks to Warbler and to BD for the colourful review.

  8. This was a splendid puzzle, and for a non-twitcher a 3* difficulty Toughie. After multiple open/close attempts of a tab in IE, I usually seem to be able to access the site within about 15 mins (if I can be bothered to persist). Having hopefully completed the puzzle, the real problem is submitting and exiting out. For the last 2 weeks at least I’ve generally given up trying as the silly little clock ticks away and simply shut down the tab on IE.
    As someone commented previously, this is OutRage rather than Outage. The constant excuses are becoming extremely tiresome. “Not fit for purpose” Please discuss….

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