Toughie 699 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 699

Toughie No 699 by Cephas

Anything could happen in the next half hour…

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Tuesday does seem to be the slot for the easier Toughies, but I quite enjoyed this one.

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.


6a    One undertaking crossing at sea? (8,5)
{FLOATING VOTER} – a cryptic definition of someone who is undecided (at sea) about where to put a cross on a ballot paper

8a    Boxer’s babble? (6)
{JABBER} – a double definition – a boxer who uses a series of short straight punches and to babble or chatter

9a    Salt, sailor’s said individual characteristic (8)
{TARTRATE} – this salt, a variety of which is used in baking powder, is created from a sailor and what sounds like a characteristic or feature

10a    Greek character’s seen in clubhouse before one (3)
{CHI} – this character in the Greek alphabet is a charade of how a clubhouse could be indicated on a map and I (one)

11a    Believer may accept his eminence as Arab leader (6)
{SHEIKH} – start with an adherent of a religion established in the 15th century by former Hindus and insert His Eminence the Cardinal to get an Arab leader

12a    My appeal’s thrown out by plant (3,5)
{MAY APPLE} – an anagram (thrown out) of MY APPEAL gives this American plant

14a    Troops ordered to accept gear (7)
{BRIGADE} – a body of troops consisting of a group of battalions and supporting units is derived by putting a verb meaning ordered or commanded around some gear

16a    One regularly complaining about lines may get by after qualification (7)
{CRY BABY} – to get someone who regularly complains start with the single-letter abbreviation of about and lines for trains and then add BY after a university qualification

20a    It’s a more flourishing spray (8)
{ATOMISER} – an anagram (flourishing) of IT’S A MORE gives an instrument for discharging liquids in a fine spray

23a    As many as there are in sad disarray in the city (6)
{DALLAS} – put a word meaning as many as there are inside an anagram (disarray) of SAD to get this city in Texas

24a    Odd characters left real ale measure (3)
{ELL} – drop the odd letters from two words in the clue to get a cloth measure of about 45 inches (less in Scotland because they have shorter arms?)

25a    Swimmer mean about artist (8)
{STINGRAY} – this dangerous fish is derived by putting mean or tight around the usual artist

26a    Matching like crockery perhaps being washed up, we hear (2,4)
{IN SYNC} – an abbreviated phrase meaning matching or harmonious sounds like (we hear) crockery perhaps being washed up

27a    Suspend heady brat at loggerheads precariously placed (4,2,1,6)
{HANG BY A THREAD} – a word meaning to suspend is followed by an anagram (at loggerheads) of HEADY BRAT to get a phrase, based on the sword of Damocles, meaning precariously placed


1d           Assembling at last (8)
{COBBLING} – a cryptic definition of assembling shoes at the last

2d           Shuffled, the cards got harder (8)
{STARCHED} – an anagram (shuffled) of THE CARDS gives a verb meaning got harder

3d           Whenever dynamite fails to start exploding (7)
{ANYTIME} – a word meaning whenever is an anagram (exploding) of (D)YNAMITE without its initial letter (fails to start)

4d           Cover article deleted too (6)
{OVERLY} – start with a verb meaning to cover and drop (deleted) the indefinite article to get a synonym for too

5d           Incite first of riders to abandon foot support (4,2)
{STIR UP} – a phrasal verb meaning to excite is created when an R (first of Riders) is deleted (riders to abandon) from a foor support

6d           Thief chatters about bent lines getting sewn up (7,6)
{FEATHER STITCH} – an anagram (about) of THIEF CHATTERS gives a zigzag (bent lines) way of getting sewn up

7d           Shallow jar and cups Enid smashed (6-7)
{RATTLE-BRAINED} – this adjective meaning shallow or foolish is derived from a verb meaning to jar or vibrate, a lady’s garment that has cups and an anagram (smashed) of ENID

13d         Woman showing force no resistance (3)
{AMY} – to get this woman’s name take a military force and drop the R (no Resistance)

15d         A Michigan buddy (3)
{AMI} – A and the short code for MI(chigan) together give a buddy or friend

17d         Nimble Rosy may be on top in this district! (3-5)
{RED-LIGHT} – start with a word meaning nimble and precede it (on top) with an adjective meaning rosy to get this seedy district in a city – a semi all-in-one clue

18d         Boastful talk envelopes associate supporter (8)
{BALUSTER} – put some boastful talk around (envelopes) A(ssociate) to get a small pillar supporting a stair rail

19d         Dreary old convict gets bird (7)
{GREYLAG} – a charade of an adjective meaning dreary or uninteresting and an old-fashioned word for a convict gives a large European goose

21d         Frenchman will get bulk of fruit tomorrow (6)
{MAÑANA} – the French equivalent of Mr is followed by the middle letters (bulk) of some yellow fruit which grows in hanging bunches to get a word of Spanish origin meaning tomorrow

22d         Old scholar found stall in corner (6)
{SCRIBE} – this old word for a scholar, being one who could write, is derived by putting a stall or manger inside a corner of England

An excellent start to the week – what will tomorrow bring?

33 comments on “Toughie 699

  1. I thought this a straightforward but enjoyable Toughie. The only one that held me up was 18d trying to fit “ass” as the abbreviation for associate into the answer.

    Many thanks to Cephas for the crossword and to BD for the review.

  2. Thanks to Cephas for a very enjoyable if not overly tough “toughie” and to BD for the hints.

  3. My last two in were 18d and 23a; I had the same ‘ass’ problem as Prolixic :)
    Apart from that, straightforward, and pleasurable.
    Thanks to Cephas, and to BD.

  4. Gentle but enjoyable fare today, favourite 7d thanks to Cephas and to Big Dave for the comments.

  5. Could have gone ‘orribly wrong if I had entered “aeromist” at 20a which was my first thought, luckily glanced at the relevant downs to see the error of my ways. Thanks to Cephas and BD for the review

  6. Very enjoyable gentle start to the Toughie week, thank you Cephas – lovely anagram indicators as always. Thanks to BD too.

  7. This is a perfect “toughie” for a novice like me – managed all but two (23a and 18d) and the first word of 7d before looking at the hints. I got in a terrible tangle with 18d – couldn’t get “brag” and “ass” out of my mind and neither could I make anything sensible out of it but got it as soon as I read the hint for 28a. I’ve never heard of the expression at 7d. I liked 9, 16 and 26a and 3 and 17d. Thanks to Cephas and BD. VERY good for the toughie confidence although I know that this was hardly a typical example!

  8. Why do all the hints for the toughies have a title? Are they at all relevant to the crossword? Have spent ages trying to understand todays!!

  9. Fun puzzle and not too mind-bending so thanks to Cephas. (If you’re reading this I still haven’t finished your Christmas quiz but that’s due to idleness! Lot of fun so far!).

    Thought 12a a bit obscure (never heard of it before) but fair and accessable from the clue, Needed a quick Google to confirm. I’ll get pommette to buy me a Chambers one day, otherwise I’ll bloody do it myself!

    Also thanks to BD for the blog, and the video. Will we get Fireball XL5, or Thunderbirds next, or even Supercar? Or could we have a Captain Scarlet video every time the setter is a mysteron (OK, don’t tell me, it’s been done before)!

    Sorry, rabbiting due to excellent lunch including far too much vino collapso!

      1. Congrats Prolixic! Have a great evening and enjoy. Dare I ask how many years?

        Pommette and I are up to 36, against all the odds (apparantly when we got married there was a sweepstake at pommette’s workplace on how long we would last and the longest guess was 2 years)!

          1. Ivory for this year is a bit out of the question but you do realize you’re in for a bit of crystal next year!

            Congrats again anyway!

            1. It was a choice between a piano (no room), a trip to the Ivory Coast (no babysitter) or a nice meal out :D

  10. Now this is the sort of toughie I enjoy. Enjoy is the operative word. I attempt them to stretch my mind but not destroy it! Some clues recently have been downright deceitful. Either a very obscure spelling that only Big Dave can run to earth or, more annoyingly, a plural for what shoud be a singular answer (or vice versa). Thank you Cephas. At least you were not on an ego-trip!

    Congratulations to the wedding anniversary couple.

    1. It might have escaped your attention Pommers, but this was my review, not Gazza’s.

      Think yourself lucky that i didn’t post a clip from a well-known soap opera.

      1. Looking at the time this was posted I would imagine that Pommers was on to his second or third bottle of Rioja so we shouldn’t judge him too harshly…

  11. Very enjoyable today. Many nice moments with lots of titters. Best was 7 but I wondered if the setter had a little giggle with 9 and 17. I much prefer this type of puzzle with good clues rather than the themed things that throw up all sorts of dodgy words.

  12. Thanks to Cephas for the puzzle and to Big dave for the review & hints. Enjoyed this one, I suppose it was at the “easy” end of the Toughie spectrum, but I still needed 8 hints to complete. At least I found it do-able and enjoyable. Favourites were 6 across & 26 across, night all.

  13. Dave, could you help with 4d please, I’ve read the hint but can’t see the verb for “to cover”.

    1. The verb to cover is overlay – remove the A (article deleted) to give a word meaning too (as in he was overly / too fond of wine).

  14. A gentle toughie to start the week I thought so thanks to Cephas & to BD for the review.

    I’ve just had a sneak preview of Wednesday’s & apart from 14a which is obvious to me as an ex pat Tyke then I think I’ll do a spot of gardening until the review comes up.

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