DT 26808 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26808

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26808

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

Innuendo, smut and topless ladies – Ray T is back!

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    Throw in the towel changing diapers (7)
{DESPAIR} – this word meaning to throw in the towel or give up hope is an anagram (changing) of DIAPERS

5a    Writer’s career decline (7)
{RUSHDIE} – the surname of the writer of The Satanic Verses is a charade of a verbs meaning to career and to decline

9a    Verify criminal’s at head of company (7)
{CONFIRM} – a verb meaning to verify is a charade of Crosswordland’s usual criminal and a company or business

10a    Tarts consuming spirit showing jugs (7)
{FLAGONS} – put some tarts (no, not those tarts!} around (consuming) spirit or energy to get some jugs (no, not those jugs!} – the surface reading of this clue conjures up images of topless ladies having a few bevvies

11a    Management finish around four (9)
{EXECUTIVE} – the management of a business is created by putting a verb meaning to finish or carry out around the Roman numerals for four

12a    Small tool generating offspring (5)
{SPAWN} – S(mall) followed by a tool or easily manipulated person gives a derogatory term for offspring

13a    Pips best players (5)
{SEEDS} – a double definition – the pips of a fruit and the best players in a sports tournament who have been assigned a specified position to ensure that they do not play each other in the early rounds

15a    One old lady maybe and one husband lacking life (9)
{INANIMATE} – a charade of I (one), an elderly female relative, I (one, again) and a husband or partner gives an adjective meaning lacking life

17a    In convulsions, laugh turning offensive (9)
{ONSLAUGHT} – hidden inside the clue is an offensive

19a    Buddhist belief gets you more serene, say (5)
{KARMA} – this Buddhist belief sounds a bit like (say) an adjective meaning more serene

22a    Bird’s back covered in detergent (5)
{EGRET} – a white heron is hidden (covered) and reversed (back) inside the clue

23a    Fans’ rotating mechanism? (9)
{TURNSTILE} – a cryptic definition of a rotating frame that allows one person to pass at a time into a sporting venue

25a    Cloudiness over outskirts of Palma town (7)
{OPACITY} – this cloudiness is derived from O(ver), the outside letters (outskirts) of PalmA and a large town

26a    Spirit’s almost undiluted drink (7)
{PURPORT} – this word meaning spirit or gist comes from most of an adjective meaning undiluted followed by an alcoholic drink made from fortified wine

27a    Juggling trick by the French in spectacle (7)
{SLEIGHT} – to get this juggling or dexterity put the French definite article inside a spectacle

28a    ‘House’ seen in American TV series (7)
{DYNASTY} – a house or succession was the title of an American TV series starring John Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins


1d           Lady earned endlessly on game (7)
{DUCHESS} – this titled lady is built up from the first two letters of a three-letter word meaning earned or rightful and a board game

2d           Devout following return of Queen (7)
{SINCERE} – an adjective meaning devout is constructed from a word meaning following or after and the reversal (return) of the usual Queen

3d           It’s goodbye to Sarkozy! (5)
{ADIEU} – is this cryptic definition of the French for goodbye wishful thinking on the part of our setter, who lives in Paris?

4d           Outstanding European foremost in league (9)
{REMAINING} – a word meaning outstanding or left over is created by putting E(uropean) and a word meaning foremost or chief inside a league or group

5d           Get uptight about female strip (5)
{RIFLE} – put a word meaning to get someone uptight or annoy them around F(emale) to get a verb meaning to strip or plunder

6d           Initially sits on knees with instant horseplay (9)
{SLAPSTICK} – start with the initial letter of Sits then add some knees and a brief instant of time to get this horseplay

7d           Publicity put up about a Miro abstract exhibition (7)
{DIORAMA} – reverse a two-letter word for publicity around an anagram (abstract) of A MIRO to get an exhibition of translucent pictures seen through an opening with lighting effects

8d           Character Othello’s heart in scene’s broken (7)
{ESSENCE} – this character or nature is created by putting the middle letter (heart) of OthEllo inside an anagram (broken) of SCENE’S – the surface reading is an allusion to Othello, thinking that he has just seen the proof of Desdemona’s adultery, being heart-broken that Desdemona must die

14d         Stunning bird hugging tank top (9)
{STARTLING} – to get this adjective meaning stunning or surprising put a bird with black, brown-spotted, iridescent plumage around the initial letter (top) of Tank

16d         One has hard cover or hard top, possibly (9)
{ARTHROPOD} – this invertebrate animal such as crustacean with a hard cover (exoskeleton) is an anagram (possibly) of OR HARD TOP

17d         Taxing is useless under old Italian leader (7)
{ONEROUS} – an adjective meaning taxing is created by putting an abbreviation meaning useless after (under  in a down clue) O(ld) and a Roman emperor (Italian leader)

18d         Where to find water sport expert? (7)
{SURFACE} – whereabouts on the sea one might find this water sport expert (4,3)

20d         Excessive common sense shown by rugby union international (7)
{RUINOUS} – an adjective meaning excessive or crippling is created by putting common sense after the abbreviation of Rugby Union and I(nternational)

21d         Pet lady trained with skill (7)
{ADEPTLY} – an anagram (trained) of PET LADY gives an adverb meaning with skill

23d         Shot on street in engagement (5)
{TRYST} – a shot or attempt is followed by ST(reet) to get this engagement or assignation

24d         Father pursuing new femme fatale (5)
{SIREN} – a charade of a father, especially of a horse or other animal, and N(ew) gives this femme fatale

More difficult than today’s Toughie, but not that difficult!

61 comments on “DT 26808

  1. Really, really enjoyable. It was a tough slog, but some great clues. The ‘easier’ constructions such as hidden words and anagrams were nicely disguised and the clues were all nice and concise. Thanks Ray T

  2. Thanks to RayT for the enjoyment. I found this a little trickier than normal, and it took me slightly longer to complete than the Toughie.
    The hidden clue at 17a took me a while to spot. Thanks to BD for the notes.

  3. Just about the right level for me. Took me a bit to get 5a, then it was a Doh! moment. Good clue though, it was the ‘s that put me off track. The more obscure words were easy enough to work out. Overall very enjoyable. Many thanks.

  4. Another enjoyable puzzle, although I got stuck on the NE corner for longer than I should have. Definitely a Doh! moment there. Many thanks to all concerned.

  5. Agree with all of the above, NE corner the hardest. 5a had me foxed, along with 4d. Very enjoyable for all that. 3.5*/4* I think. Thanks to Ray T and BD.

  6. Found this one really difficult, however armed with my newly found knowledge, gleaned from this blog finally managed to complete without any external help. A first for me!
    Thanks to RayT for an entertaining puzzle.
    Thanks BD for confirming a couple of guesses.

    Like a proper solver did it on the train to London. RA here we come.

  7. An enormous thank you to Ray for a brilliant, fun, entertaining, trickyish start to a lovely sunny day. I have lots of favourites but particularly liked the idea of a 15a husband (not that Ithis applies to Mr CS :D ).

    The Toughie takes less time than this to solve and has enough anagrams for fans of anagrams and novice Toughie-ists to get on well

  8. I liked this as it was harder than normal and it stretched, which I like. NW corner was the last in. A couple of doh moments. 10,17 & 28a and 6d were faves. 4* for enjoyment.

  9. Like most solvers,i really enjoyed this puzzle,i score it **/****, maybe i just had a good day! Although i was sure i had the solution to 26a, i could’nt equate it with ‘spirit’ as my dictionary said the solution meant- SIGNIFY,IMPLY APPARENT MEANING,CLAIM TO BE TRUE, which was what i thought it meant,spirit does not ,in my opinion,fit.No other gripes-maybe O over in 25a,this was the abbreviation used about a week ago when a blogger suggested it came from O for overs in cricket scoring- on with the motley.

    1. Chambers Thesaurus gives: meaning, significance, point, gist, drift, idea, spirit, substance, theme, tendency, tenor, thrust, bearing, direction, implication, (formal) import

  10. Oh joy, oh elation!!! RayT is back at his brilliant best. My favourite was 12 as it gave me a giggle but 1a 5d 10 15 20 22 23a and 23d were all top drawer. This puzzle has made my week. Why can’t we have Ray every Thursday? Also, some more toughie Beams would not go amiss.

          1. I did not look at that puzzle, but with those checking letters, I would also have put SMILE. Did the correct answer have ‘H’ in it?

          2. I have put SMILE in for 20d in the printed version. Personally, and particularly in a non-cryptic puzzle, if the answer given is a solution to the clue, and it fits with crossing letters, I can’t see for the life of me how it can be wrong. If it’s wrong and a different solution is given as the correct one, the setter isn’t merely asking for a solution to the clue posed, he’s asking for us to read his mind, which seems a little unfair!!

  11. My usual trouble with Ray T!! Had three goes at this before I somehow “found the wavelength” and had quite a spurt before stalling in NE corner and needed hints for 5a – which, of course, makes all the sense in the world once you get it! At least I finished before the down clues are in – that must be a first for me, I think.

  12. Very enjoyable again today. Managed to skip of work an hour early so had a chance to tackle this before lunch. 3 clues in and it was time for food – finished it by the time I got around to the coffee ! *Mental note to self – eat before attempting a crossword*.

  13. As usual with RayT, I had to have 3 separate goes at this, and every go I found several clues which I couldn’t believe I missed the time before! I agree with Beaver about 26a – obvious from the construction, but a poor fit for meaning. Because of the long time taken to solve, I would rate this 4*/4*.
    Nevertheless, an excellent and enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to Ray and Big Dave.

  14. The Blacksheepometer gave this a 3 and a slurp pinter.

    It would have been less had I not very early on decided that 13A was STARS – which works of course (as in stars on an officer’s shoulder) but nevertheless is wrong.

    Anyone else get their ankle caught in this trap?

  15. Not relevant to today’s crossword, but I have just received an email from the Telegraph shop with suggestions for Mother’s Day gifts. One of the items is an electronic Collins Thesaurus. Do you think that the word shown on the screen of said machine ‘Cantankerous’ is significant? :D

  16. VERY grumpy having spent whole am “sorting out” my ancient Mum! :sad: Completely cheered up after this crossword! :grin:
    Brilliant – I loved it. I found it quite tricky to begin with but then all was OK (probably coincided with general good mood returning). I’ve never heard of the meaning of “jugs” in BD’s hints so looked it up. I also wondered if 3d was wishful thinking. So many wonderful clues and lots of laughs – I could just write them all down but won’t! Perhaps 10 and 15a and 5 and 14d. Best of all, for me, was 6d. With thanks to Ray T and BD.
    Off up the garden in the sun now.

    1. Really Kath? – you’ve never heard of jugs in the sense of parts of the female anatomy? I’m stunned.

      1. No – really have never heard it before – perhaps I’ve led a sheltered life!! :grin:

        1. I would have said it’s as common and as long-standing as other words like B**BS or T*TS, which is why I’m amazed it’s new to you.

        2. I think the fact you have not heard it Kath, says a lot about you all for the better :-)

  17. Having been warned in advance not to 1a at this crossword but to perservate and cogitate, I duly followed orders and after much of the above and lots of ‘help from my electronic friends’ finished it and rarely for a RayT I actually had 13 clues I put liked by today, I think out of those 13a and 17a were my favourites, my niggle is not at the clues themselves or in understanding what the setter was looking for but that some of the synonyms needed, I wouldn’t have associated with the word required! Thanks for blog Dave, a three star for me today at least but very enjoyable :-)

    1. Afraid so Brian, but although he is not my favourite setter, I have to say todays puzzle is mostly enjoyable although hard work for me, it is not beyond you if you really want to do it, especially with help from the blog, if not just give it a miss :-D

    2. I’ve been all the way through this and I now understand why this setters crosswords annoy me so much. Take 25a, how can a town be a city, it id either one or the other but not both. And 26a, chambers does not give purport as spirit and something can be perfectly pure and diluted if the diluent such as distilled water is pure. Sorry just plain sloppy.

      1. Sorry Mary and Brian – I STILL think that he is absolutely wonderful, especially when he’s wearing his smutty hat, as he is today!! :grin:

      2. I see what you’re saying Brian and I agree to a point, it’s just that setters seems to have the equivalent to ‘poetic licencse’ and get away with certain things, often ours is not to ‘understand’ or look too deeply into it as I have learnt, nevertheless certain things just have to be questioned :-)

        1. The other thing Mary, is that if you seek to prevent a setter using CITY to equate to TOWN for example, you stop him from writing cryptic clues. The whole essence to some of them is their loose definition. If this were a GK crossword, the argument might hold more water IMO.

          1. I would have thought that the authentic definition of a city is a town which has a cathedral (like St David’s in Wales). The usage as a large conurbation is recent and incorrect.

            1. I live in the suburbs of a city & go into town to do my shopping. There are also several “out-of-town” shopping centres near us.

            2. sorry BD that’s not right, I live in a very old city , Cambridge, it does not have a cathedral.

              1. I thought a city (old definition) had to have either a cathedral or a university, but I could be wrong.

  18. Lovely puzzle – took much longer than usual until I got into the right frame of mind (i.e. doubling the entendres!) . 5d a stand out favourite – was it referring to recent discussions on site?.
    Thanks to RayT and to BD for the review.

  19. Like wbgeddes and bifield we too put in STARS for 13a. That left us with SINCERA (a Norwegian Heavy metal band apparently) which I’ m sure has a devout following but obviously the wrong answer. The other one that tripped us up was 26a. I thought we were looking for a drink so had PER (almost a spirit) followed by NO IT (undiluted). A Pernod based drink maybe. Thanks to BD for putting me back on track. Got the rest right and a nice puzzle so a 4* from us.

  20. Lovely puzzle but 5a got me but such a clever clue.Thanks to Ray T. I’m still a fan . :smile:

  21. Finally cracked it in 3 sittings, with meetings in-between to empty out the buffers and re-set the brain. Apart from mis-spelling ****stYle all went well. And 20d in the Quickie was entered as SMILE, and that’s how it stays! Thanks to Ray Smile and BD.

  22. Many thanks to BD for his analysis, and to everybody else for the feedback. Apologies for not spotting the other possibility for an answer in the Quick. ‘Smile’ is fine by me if it’s any consolation!


  23. Got to the crosswords late today due to garden centre duties with the Boss, however, this one was worth waiting for, I thoroughly enjoyed it so many thanks to RayT and to our leader for the review. ( The toughie was much less challenging )

  24. Just a quick PS – 1a also made me laugh. It reminded me of many years ago – daughters were 8 months and 2 years old – younger one had just learnt to crawl – husband was getting them ready for bed. Every time the nappy was ready younger one was GONE. Pathetic yell from upstairs – “I CAN’T put a nappy on a moving target”! :grin:

  25. Thanks to Ray T & Big Dave for the review & hints. Great stuff from Ray T as usual. Really enjoyed it, great double entendres. Managed it in 3 sittings. Last in 14d. Favourites 10,12.15a. Lovely walking weather in Central London.

    1. I was wasndering around today as well (actually striding purposefully between jobs!). Wigmore St to Gt Portland St then down to the office at Tower Hill. Finally to a job at Liverpool St (opposite where we all met) but unfortunately that finished at 9 p.m.!

  26. Needed another go this morning at this one – and hints for 5a, 23a and 26a. I knew “turntable” (music fans?) for 23a was probably wrong as no word starting RUB fitted 20d. Bit confused by Chambers thesarus seeming to give a meaning for 26a that is not supported, IMO, by the dictionary definition at all? Haven’t checked with Rogiet – does that give the same?

  27. Re 10a; nice picture of the answer, but how did you resist showing one for the surface reading instead? :-)

  28. nice one today…lol got bogged down having _ _ R _ S _ _ _ E for 23 across Fans’ rotating mechanism and convinced myself it was GYROSCOPE :) ONly when i got TRYST by accident (was in Guardian front story :p) did i realise i was wrong.

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