Toughie 791 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 791

Toughie No 791 by Petitjean

Femmes Fatales and Vamps

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This competent but uninspiring puzzle starts off the Toughie week. No favourites – I found it a bit of a steady slog.

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    Wonder aloud at drunk diner guzzling excellent house wine (9)
{ORDINAIRE} – start with a two-letter word that sounds like () a three-letter word meaning wonder and then add an anagram (drunk) of DINER around (guzzling) two letters meaning excellent to get this house wine

8a    Line in clever pottery (5)
{DELFT} – put L(ine) inside an adjective meaning clever to get this Dutch pottery

10a    Femme fatale wanting piano refrain (6)
{MANTRA} – drop (wanting) the final P(iano) from a femme fatale, delightfully defined by Chambers as “a woman who takes a mischievous pleasure in attracting and acquiring men”, to get this refrain or incantation

11a    Former wife’s stylish perm snaring US city type (8)
{EXEMPLAR} – a former wife is followed by an anagram (stylish) of PERM around (snaring) the two-letter abbreviation for a US city to get a type or model

12a    Before last of tiramisu nibbled into edges of Genoa cake (6)
{GATEAU} – the last letter of tiramisU is preceded by a verb meaning nibbled or consumed itself inside the outside letters (edges) of GenoA to get this cake

14a    Date missing from splendid display in larder (6)
{PANTRY} – remove (missing) a three-letter word for a date from a splendid display to get a larder

16a    Very English conservationists getting voice (4)
{VENT} – combine V(ery), E(nglish) and the usual conservationists to get a verb meaning to voice or air

17a    Lift lid off secret in public (5)
{OVERT} – remove the initial (lid) C from an adjective meaning secret to get one meaning public

18a    Raw and regularly unsubdued (4)
{NUDE} – this adjective meaning raw or unclothed comes from the even letters of last word in the clue

19a    Mouthful of mushroom carrying start of sickness (6)
{MORSEL} – to get this mouthful or small quantity put a type of mushroom around (carrying) the initial letter (start) of Sickness

21a    Flower’s crude brushwork about nature’s primordial energy (6)
{DANUBE} – a flower or river is derived from some crude brushwork around (about) the initial letter (primordial) of Nature followed by E(nergy)

24a    ‘Like a lark maybe?’ Ma gulped in shock! (8)
{PLUMAGED} – this adjective meaning with feathers, like a lark or any other bird, is an anagram (in shock) of MA GULPED

26a    Bent or misshapen kind of cap (6)
{BRETON} – an anagram (misshapen) of BENT OR gives a kind of cap worn in North West France

27a    Case is French and small (5)
{ETWEE} – an alternative spelling of this small case for holding sewing articles comes from a charade of the French for and followed by a Scots word for small

28a    Bad Blur-ish parody (9)
{BURLESQUE} – an anagram (bad) of BLUR is followed by a suffix meaning -ish or “in the style of” to get a parody


1d    Brought up to assume answer is money (5)
{BREAD} – put a verb meaning brought up or reared around (to assume) A(nswer) to get a slang word for money

2d    Absent-minded detective’s quirk (8)
{DISTRAIT} – I didn’t know this adjective meaning absent-minded but it was easily derived from a two-letter abbreviation for a detective, the S from ‘S and a quirk

3d    Compare getting hold of a case of Rioja with last of spumante in flask (6)
{CARAFE} – put the two-letter Latin abbreviation for compare around (getting hold of) the A from the clue and the outside letters (case) of RiojA then add the last letter of spumantE to get this flask for serving water or wine

4d    Peter Pan fantasist out with retro artist for French fare (4)
{BRIE} – start with the surname of the author of Peter Pan, reverse (retro) and then drop (out with) the usual artist to get this French fare

5d    Seat tipped over getting a new arm (6)
{WEAPON} – reverse (tipped ) a three-letter seat, add O(ver) and then insert (getting) A and add N(ew) to get this arm, a spear or gun perhaps

6d & 23d    Rude area office founders in romantic liaison (7,2,5)
{AFFAIRE DE CŒUR} – an anagram (founders) of RUDE AREA OFFICE fives this romantic liaison

9d    Vamp hits the bottle — when up! — about ten (6)
{SEXPOT} – this vamp is derived by reversing (when up) a verb meaning hits the bottle around the Roman numeral for ten

13d    Overturn goal after leading (5)
{UPEND} – a verb meaning to overturn is created by putting a goal or aim after a word meaning leading, as in leading 1-0

15d    Low neckline cut round half of bust (9)
{DÉCOLLETÉ} – a low neckline on a woman’s dress is derived by putting a six-letter verb meaning to cut around the first half of a verb meaning to bust or arrest

17d    See 18 down

18d & 17d    In Geordie comic’s wacky blog I see status brings responsibilities (8,6)
{NOBLESSE OBLIGE} – start with an allegedly funny Geordie and the S from ‘S then add an anagram (wacky) of BLOG I SEE to get a phrase that means status brings responsibilities

20d    Son’s flabbier with top off prompting silly smile (6)
{SIMPER} – S(on) is followed by an adjective meaning flabbier or looser without its initial letter (top off) to get a silly or affected smile

22d    Sexy model in blue (6)
{NUBILE} – an adjective meaning sexy or voluptuous comes from an anagram (model) of IN BLUE

23d    See 6 down

25d    Grim half-hour following discharge (4)
{DOUR} – an adjective meaning grim or stern is constructed from the second half of (ho)UR preceded by a verb meaning to discharge or fulfil

Rather too many clues involving bits of words being put together for my liking.

15 comments on “Toughie 791

  1. A tough one for me which took a fair amount of cogitation. I had to buy a letter to get 10a, which was my last one in. Thanks to Petitjean, and to BD.

  2. Dave, in 27a I believe it is the French word for ‘and’ being ‘et’ followed by wee and not the word for ‘is’ which is ‘est’.

    Not come across this spelling before, but worked it out from the clue.

  3. Thanks to Petitjean for an enjoyable and not overtaxing toughie and to BD for the review. I agree with Tilly re 27a.

  4. I put on my chapeau and worked my way steadily through this one. Who knew you could spell that old crossword chestnut in 27a like that? Agree with the BD ratings and the far too many bits of words to put together clues comment. Merci to Petitjean aussi.

    Micawber tomorrow – Yippee!

  5. Nice start to Toughie week, 10a also last one in for me, favourites were 7a 14a 15d and 28a thanks to Petitjean and to Big Dave for the comments.

  6. I found it very enjoyable alyhough there were a few to catch me out at the end. Merci a Petitjean and Gros Dave for the blog.

  7. An enjoyable Tour De France from Petitjean today. I must have hit the setter’s wavelength early on as I found this more pink fluffy slippers with only a few at the end to hold me up. On the other hand, as it was dad’s funeral today, I was surprised to be able to write more than two letters in a row let alone complete a crossword!

    1. I am sure there are others who have also read your post and are unsure what to write.. I can only say that I hope the day went as well as is possible for such a traumatic day.
      Our thoughts are with you.

    2. Hi Proliixic – can only reiterate what I said in email last week. Hope all went well. Not a happy time.,

    3. Thabo, Cynthia Cuthbert and myself send our heartfelt love to you and your family Prolixix. Many Prayers

  8. Didn’t really enjoy this much. I felt that too many answers jumped out from the checkers and poorly concealed definitions, 18/17d a good example as was the other French phrase.. Found it less fun and easier than usual for a Petitjean puzzle. No mad hat required :grin:

    C’est la vie so thanks to Petitjean and also to BD.

    1. 28a would have been a Gazza photo for sure, or is that just me!. “speak” tomorrow, say hi to Pomette please

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