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Toughie 1150

Toughie No 1150 by Excalibur

The Week Starts Here!

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley. I managed to stage an escape from the clutches of Matron yesterday and came home to the milk I had left out when the ambulance arrived to ferry me off, which appears to have turned into that little-known Calderdale Cheese, and bread that Alexander Fleming would be interested in studying. However I am feeling much better, and thanks to everyone for their nice wishes off and online.

We start the Toughie week with the monthly offering from Excalibur, which very much fits into the Tuesday Toughie gentle pigeon-hole. Nothing too taxing although there were a couple of unfamiliar definitions, and a couple of the clues, you wrote the answer in and had to work out why afterwards, which to me isn’t the point of a cryptic.

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 Tell-tale item of apparel? (5,5)
{GRASS SKIRT} We start with a cryptic definition, where the whole clue is a definition and the two halves each define one of the two words. A slang word for a tell-tale, usually a police informant is added to the name for a piece of clothing. This gives a piece of clothing which is obvious when seen. Red-faces here because from checking letters I wrote in DRESS SHIRT at first.

grass skirt

9a Cockney would sound consumed with loathing (4)
{HATE} If you remember that in Crosswordland Cockneys always drop their aitches, you need a word that means loathing that would sound like a word meaning consumed to a Cockney.

10a Definitely drive. Train is out (3,7)
{FOR CERTAIN} An expression that means definitely is revealed by taking a scientific word meaning drive or energy and adding an anagram (is out) of TRAIN

11a Lessens, reducing by a pound — wrongly, one feels (6)
{SENSES} Here we have a clue referred to as a subtractive anagram, remove the abbreviation for pound from LESSENS and then rearrange what’s left (wrongly) to give a word meaning one feels.

12 a One way or another, ring me during exhibition (7)
{SOMEHOW} To find a word meaning one way or another, take a letter for a ring and add ME and place both inside a word for an exhibition.

15a Lessons it’s time to take to heart. We’re not here forever (7)
{MORTALS} Take a word that means lessons (usually of a religious nature) and place T (time) in the middle of it to give you the name for people living today in the world.

16a Material, unfashionable, making comeback (5)
{NINON} The name for a material that is light and lace-like is found by taking a way of saying something isn’t fashionable (two words) and reversing it.


17a Sinister vessel that came to bad end (4)
{DARK} An adjective meaning sinister or shady is found by taking the name of a (biblical) vessel and placing D, the last letter –end- of BAD.

18a Said, ‘Heavens, a little terrier!’ (4)
{SKYE} The name for a breed of terrier is a homophone for the place above our heads.

Skye Terrier

19a Hard for cycling, walk about last quarter mile (5)
{STEEP} The sort of road that would make it difficult to ride a bike is found by taking a word meaning walk, and placing it around E the last letter (last quarter) of MILE.
21a Question ‘How can we reduce ours?’ — Answer fast! (7)
{WEIGHTS} This was one of the clues I found difficult to explain – once you see the answer it’s obvious. Basically I’m thinking it’s a cryptic definition of sorts. Would you talk about reducing weight in the plural like that or just use the singular form? To answer the question an alternative meaning of FAST would be the answer, rather than speedily responding. It just doesn’t seem right to me.

22a Is packed off day before. Don’t go along (7)
{DISSENT} Take IS and a word meaning packed-off and place D (day) before the phrase to give something that means to not go along with things.

24a Deny the existence of endless teenage rioting (6)
{NEGATE} Remove the last letter of TEENAGE (endless) and rearrange the letters (rioting) to give something that means to deny the existence of something.

27a Couldn’t face it, being refused admission (6,4)
{TURNED AWAY} A double definition here with something that means refused admission is something that you did when you couldn’t face something placed in front of you.

28a She put an end to the rags-to-riches girl (4)
{ELLA} Take the name of a girl featured in a fairy tale by Charles Perrault. The last part of her name is also a girl’s name and this is what you need.

29a He takes big risks with mountainous wave (4-6)
{HIGH ROLLER} The name for someone in the city or the gambling world who speculates a lot is also a way of describing a big wave for a surfer.

high roller


2d Do, in other words, set up sanction (4)
{ROOK} Do here is a verb meaning to fleece. A reversal (set up in a down clue)of a conjunction meaning in other words followed by the two letters used to signify agreement to something (sanction).

3d Watch mutt put inside safe (6)
{SECURE} Something that means safe is found when you take something that means watch and insert a synonym for a dog or mutt.

4d What blood will do after he makes incision? (7)
{SURGEON} A cryptic-type definition which refers to a person who would make an incision. When the name is broken down it describes how blood flows after the incision.

5d One shot in foreign land (4)
{IRAN} After I (one) goes a word meaning shot, as in sped off, which leads to the name of a Middle-Eastern country.

6d Bouncing tennis ball through nerves (7)
{TENSION} A letter that represents a ball has an anagram (bouncing) of TENNIS to give a word meaning nerves.

7d Decrepit animal, prevent from straying (10)
{RAMSHACKLE} Take the name of a male sheep and something that means secure (prevent from straying) to give a word meaning decrepit.

8d Tenacious and stern, is training pet to go outside (10)
{PERSISTENT} Something that means tenacious is found by juggling (training) the letters of STERN IS and placing PET around them.

12d Snake, being this, dies as the outcome? (10)
{SIDEWINDER} a type of self-referential clue where the name of a variety of snake is found by forming a clue that leads you to the word DIES. In other words, make an anagram of it.


13d Boy given heavy blow with strap (10)
{MARTINGALE} The name for a type of strap for a horse is found by taking a boy’s name and adding the name for a strong wind.



14d County flags (5)
{WILTS} A double definition. The shortened name of a county means that same as flagging, as in the sense of tired.

15d Cut, in a manner of speaking (5)
{MOWED} A word that means cut, as in grass, is a homophone of a word that refers to manner or style.

19d Prison term that will make a bigger man of you? (7)
{STRETCH} A slang word that means a prison sentence can be cryptically described as what you would get if you had a spell on a mediaeval rack.


20d To take first step, I will get aboard to look round (7)
{PIONEER} A verb that means to institute or take the first step in a venture is made up by taking I and something that means you are aboard something, and placing that inside a word that means see or look round.

23d Small, gets to go on all fours and scribble (6)
{SCRAWL} After S (small) goes a description of how you move on when on all fours, and you’ll have a word that refers to untidy handwriting.

25d Drawing, not having seized victory, is a bore (4)
{DRAG} Take a word that means victory out of DRAWING to give you something that is a bore or a pain.

26d Food’s palatable if chewing the fat (4)
{FARE} The final clue was the last one I entered, and I am still a bit unsure about it. A general word for food is a homophone (indicated, I think, by ‘chewing the fat’) for a word meaning palatable, acceptable.

Thanks to Excalibur for a pleasant gentle start to the Toughie week. I’ll see you later in the week, all things being equal.

25 comments on “Toughie 1150

  1. I found this extremely hard going. I did manage to complete without the hints but I thought there were several iffy clues, particularly 9A, 21A and 12D. Oh, and I was wrong on the middle letter of 16A. Having said that, I loved 1A , 18A and 1D. Thanks to Excalibur and to you Tilsit for the review. Glad you are feeling better!

    1. I needed electronic help for 12d and I wasn’t that happy about its derivation, either!
      Did you mean 2d? – there is no 1d in the paper.

        1. I originally had ROOD but could nt justify the meaning of sanction. But thanks to a certain lady superstar I realised its Sanction KO and OR with do as definition.

  2. I got there only with Tilsit’s help, for which many thanks. I couldn’t see the reason for 2d and just coul’dnt work out 15a or down. 4*/3* for me.
    Thanks to Excalibur also, and best wishes for your continued recovery, Tilsit.

  3. Don’t often attempt Toughies so was pleased to start off at a canter but quite soon began to slow down. Grateful for Tilsit’s clarification of several dubious clues including 1a (I too had dress shirt), 15a, 2d and 26d.
    Thanks Excalibur for introduction to the world of Toughies and many get-well wishes to Tilsit.

  4. Perfect start to the Toughie week. A hard act for the next three to follow. Best clue for me was Ia

  5. It was only when reading the review and comments that I realised I had 16a wrong (a bit poor you might think, considering that 4 of the 5 letters were checked!). I worked it out to be NITON, looked it up in the BRB and there it is (an old name for radon).
    Thanks to E/T.

    1. I had the old name for radon too – Mr CS says it does count as a ‘material’

    2. Have just noticed. I did the same thing Gazza. Will have to go and look up the correct answer now.

    3. Me too. I also checked it on the intenet and I agree with Mr. CS! (! also think it works better with the clue)

  6. It was the pesky little 4 letter words, 2d and 26d that gave me most trouble. I settled for ‘rood’ as the answer for 2d but could not parse it of course. I had the right answer for 26d but had not twigged the homophone connection to justify it. Must be missing the other half of the solving team to beak-scratch the last subtleties from the clues. Enjoyable enough.
    Thanks Excalibur and Tilsit, great that you are again well enough to be back with us.

  7. I made fairly good progress but the little four letter words got me. Thanks to Tilsit for your help and Excalibur. I particularly liked 1a, 10a and 19a.

  8. I found this fairly tricky and still don’t see how ‘Non in’ is something that anyone would ever say. Didn’t understand the wordplay for 2d either until coming here and am still puzzled over 21a. That said, I did enjoy it so thanks to Excalibur and Tilsit for some much needed explanations.

    1. As far as I can see 21a is just saying that the way to reduce weight is to go on a fast.

  9. Guilty of dress shirt , but I still don’t fully understand 26d. Someone cleverer than I en route to Leeds this morning explained 16a, I would have gone with Gazzas reasoning. Thank you Excalibur and Tilley – hope you are on the mend

  10. Well, now this is a turn up for the books. First time in a while that I have tried a toughie, having had my fingers burnt a few times before, but to my surprise and delight I managed to complete it (without hints).
    I can’t say it was easy going, but a couple of previous learning points from the non-tough version in recent week/months stuck in my memory and helped with 2d (steering me away from my first thought of “rood”) and 13d. The cloth at 16a was a new word for me and was last one in. Initially I thought it might be “niton” but it didn’t sound right and I settled on the correct answer.
    Thanks to Excalibur and Tilsit. Glad you are feeling better.

  11. Well, l’m grateful to Excalibur of course, but l can’t say l enjoyed this one. I had to draw on 5 of Time it’s hints – for which thanks – and some of the clues made little sense to me even then. 15a remains blank, and l can’t say it will keep me awake tonight.

  12. Thanks to Excalibur for an enjoyable toughie (except 26d, which I still don’t understand) and many thanks to Tilsit for a super review, glad your feeling better.

  13. A hard slog. Lots of clues answered without really knowing why. I don’t think I could review it even after seeing the answers.

  14. I don’t find Excalibur crosswords easy, but I did manage to do this one. I needed just one hint and that was for 2d. I also needed an explanation for my answer to 15d. I was pleased to find that all my parsing was correct. My faves were 1a and 7d.

    Many thanks to Excalibur for an enjoyable puzzle which really had me puzzling!

    And many thanks to Tilsit for an excellent review which I find invaluable. Very glad you’re home again.

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