ST 2617 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2617 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2617 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, I will select a few of the more difficult clues and provide hints for them.

Don’t forget that you can give your assessment of the puzzle. Five stars if you thought it was great, one if you hated it, four, three or two if it was somewhere in between.

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Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions


1a           Antarctic cools abnormally — that’s collectively agreed (6,8)
An anagram (abnormally) of ANTARCTIC COOLS gives a collective agreement to cooperate, for example by sacrificing some individual freedom for state protection

10a         Butterfly, one that’s not common (7)
This type of butterfly also means someone, like a king or queen, who is not a commoner

11a         With ultimate correctness, expelling a small child (3)
Take an phrase (2,1,1) that means “with ultimate correctness” or, as Chambers gives, “with, perfect exactness”  and then drop the A (expelling A) to get a small child

15a         E.g., sailor or gaoler is misbehaving in women’s quarters (8)
Two anagrams (misbehaving) for the price of one – EG SAILOR or GAOLER IS – either gives the women’s quarters in a harem

27a         Terse appreciation of gift could make one tense (7,7)
What could be a terse appreciation of a gift is actually a form of a verb – in this case the one used to express a past event that has current consequences; an example is “I have eaten” (so I’m not hungry)


1d           Transcribe date incorrectly, unable to think clearly (14)
An anagram (incorrectly) of TRANSCRIBE DATE gives an adjective meaning unable to think clearly

3d           Taken in by police without husband, giving testimony (11)
Start with a phrase (2,3,7) that could mean taken in by the police then drop the H (without Husband) to get a verb meaning giving testimony

4d           Orator showing constant unfriendliness to leaders in Rome (6)
This famous Roman orator is a charade of the letter used to represent a constant, usually the speed of light, a word meaning unfriendliness or coolness and the first two letters (leaders) of RO(me)

7d           South of cape, a French composer in Spanish ship (7)
Under (south of in a down clue) C(ape) put A and the Frenchman who composed Bolero to get a small, fast Spanish sailing ship of the 15th–17th centuries

25d         Transport not fully occupied, mostly broken down (3)
This form of public transport has two clues for the price of one (there must be a sale on today!) – most of a word meaning occupied or working and most of a word meaning broken down or defective

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If you need further help then please ask and I will see what I can do.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put whole or partial answers or alternative clues in your comment, else they may be censored!

Today it’s Happy Birthday to Winston Conrad “Wink” Martindale (77)

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44 comments on “ST 2617 (Hints)

  1. I hope I am not alone in finding this tough – the particularly appropriate anagram at 1d took me ages! Lots of d’oh moments in a particularly fine Virigilius brain stretcher. I will sort out my favourites as I type the review. Thanks to Virgilius and BD too.

  2. This really was an excellent puzzle – Virgilius at his best!
    It look me almost twice as long as last Sunday, but with much more enjoyment.
    Many thanks to him, and to BD for the hints.

      1. Silly me!! Filled it in wrongly – all better now!! Haven’t been around for a bit as my Hotlips has been very poorly – on the mend now so back with a vengeance. We’ve been following every day though!

          1. 19a Seat providing support (6)
            Double definition – a) a seat or rear end and b) providing support as in “I’m right ****** you”.
            For 23a see responses to comment #9.

  3. Hi Dave, a real toughie today for me, but I actually managed it without your hints, although I still don’t know what the word referred to in 11a for ‘with ultimate correctness’ is, although I have the answer to the clue!!?? If this had been on the ‘toughie’ page I wouldn’t have perservated with it but because it’s an ‘ordinary’ cryptic, I did, all in the mind! :-) One fav clue today 15a 4* for difficulty for me at least

    1. Did you read my hint? There are only two places to insert a single letter inside a three-letter word, so it shouldn’t take long!

  4. Thanks that is a new word for me, and just leaves me 23 A there are not many options with 20D and 8D in place just the middle letter (of 3) to select. think I can explain the first 2 but where does the final letter come from

    1. I think you are making it too difficult. The middle letters of two words, one of four letters and the other of three, give the answer.

    2. You need the middle two letters of the third word of the clue and the middle of the fourth word (avoiding extremes) to give you a word meaning trouble.

  5. OK thanks to a hint from crossword solver got it – onholidy in hong kong so time for bed – hasta la vista

  6. I liked this puzzle this morning. 14 letter answers give a sense of security when surrounding everything else. Fav. clue 12 a. Thanks setter and BD.

  7. I found this one hard going but have now finished it without needing the hints. Completely missed the “not fully occupied” bit of 25d but got the answer from the “mostly broken down” bit. I don’t understand the answer I have for 22a – I’m pretty sure that it has to be right but why “jolly”? At the risk of being pedantic I don’t like 9a – I understand that the use of the word “virus” in the clue is meant to fool us into thinking about computers but the answer means “free from bacteria” and is nothing to do with viruses. I enjoyed this very much although it has taken some time!! Particularly liked 12, 15, 19, 24 …. the list is going to be too long – I think I’ll just say that I liked most of the clues. With thanks to Virgilius and BD.

    1. I too was trying to think of ‘jolly’ as happy whereas here it means very. As in today’s puzzle was jolly tough!

    2. Here is the definition from the Oxford Dictionary of English (slightly modified so as to suit the clue):

      an adverb used to give force or emphasis, for example jolly in my feet are jolly cold

      1. Oh – of course! Thought of every meaning of “jolly” that I could come up with – a sailor, a free party, cheerful, to cheer up (as in jolly along) but didn’t quite manage the right one! Thanks BD – can now get on with what is left of today! :smile:

    3. Kath – if I have the same word as you for 9a (which I wouldn’t have got without your comment!) then I don’t understand it at all – apart from the fact that it does have “IT” “returned” in it?? Would appreciate some light thrown – while I struggle on with the rest of a still very blank crossword! Thanks.

      1. Jolly is a defintion by example. The answer describes the kind of word that makes a noun more emphatic. Compare the phrases “it is cold” and “it is jolly cold”. The role played by jolly in the second phrase is the answer to 9a.

  8. Phew! I started this after getting home from Church, apart from a short lunch break, and have just finished! I found this puzzle as taxing as any in recent times but very enjoyable. Thanks to Virgilious and BD. Favourites are 3d, 20d and 22a; very clever.

  9. Good afternoon Addicted. Yes, a bit convoluted isn’t it? You sussed the IT backwards ok, but a word for since is often just a two letter word. The European bit is EP and a single letter at the end, which starts “C”omputer.

    1. Thanks both – actually, after staring at it blankly for a while, the penny did finally drop! “Convoluted” is a “jolly” good description, Buffer. Have finally filled in all the blanks – thought it very difficult to-day and BD was no help whatsoever, because I’d done all the ones he hinted – sorry BD, I can usually rely on you! Just as well I’ve finished or the friends who are coming to supper might not have got any!!

  10. That’s more like what a prize crossword should be! Might keep the postbag down to a few thousand entries. Could my 30 year wait for the elusive pen be over!? Many thanks to the 10a of crosswords, even if a bit of a 13d today! And to BD for the colourful, if unused, clues. Good old Wink – 77 eh!

  11. I believe that the Telegraph setters collectively have a pair of fluffy pink slippers and a pair of hob-nailed boots that that share between them on a rotating basis. I think I know whose got to wear the latter today! Many thanks to Virgilius for a cracking crossword and to BD for the hints.

    1. I think one of them must have worn out the pink fluffy slippers – I do hope we don’t have to wait until Father Christmas brings them a new pair to share :D

  12. The usual enjoyable fare from Virgilius!
    Late posting from me as had to watch Frozen Planet which I missed on Wednesday!

    Some good laughs in this one e.g. 19a, 3d & 20d.
    Other faves : 11a, 12a, 15a, 26a, 2d, 13d & 18d.

  13. I certainly found this to be on the tough side – 5 clues held ou tfor a remarkably long time, then the last couple. Many thanks to Virgilius and BD for the hints.

  14. Blimey – I think this puzzle should have been subtitled ‘Virgillius’s Revenge’.
    Far too tough for the likes of me. It took me 3 scans through the clues to reach answer #1 (23a), whereas I’d normally expect a couple of hidden word clues and less extensive anagrams to provide more of a kickstart.
    As it stands now, I’m fairly sure I’ve got the top half of the crossword right, but the bottom half remains, largely, a bit of a mystery. I have a rough idea of what 17a is, but can’t make any sense of the wordplay, and I think 19a is a slightly naughty answer. My current answer for 26a is a bit fishy, and I’m not sure 21d is right either.
    Not finding much fun in what is usually the most fun puzzle of the week. I think Virgillius has over-egged it this week.

    Edit: oh yes, I see 17a now…

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