Toughie 1408 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1408

Toughie No 1408 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This took me just as long as the Elkamere on Wednesday, so I’m not sure why the Telegraph puzzles site offered one star for difficulty while last Wednesday had 5 – maybe it’s just me. Some nice smiles, aha moments and beautifully disguised definitions from proXimal today, though I noticed while writing the review just how many multi-component charades there are – quite clever to accomplish that in reasonably short clues.

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    Tom couldn’t do this flip (4,7)
HAVE KITTENS: Double definition, something a male cat can’t do

7a    Please show anger over male being inactive (7)
DORMANT: please as in “go ahead” followed by something you might do when you’re angry around (over) the abbreviation for male

8a    Choppers soldiers hid among evergreens (7)
IVORIES: One of the two-letter abbreviations for soldiers surrounded by (hid among) evergreen plants that can climb up walls

10a    Mount Everest’s old rocks — no place for new lovers (5)
STEED: Anagram (rocks) of EVEREST’S OLD from which is subtracted an anagram (new) of of LOVERS

11a    Around quarter of the world, perhaps, aim to establish rapport (9)
CHEMISTRY: One-letter abbreviation for “around”, followed by the first half of a word that means half the world (hence “quarter of the world, perhaps”), followed by a verb meaning aim

12a    Best piano secured by payment (7)
OUTPLAY: Musical abbreviation for p(iano) inside (secured by) a word meaning payment or expenditure

14a    Messenger on time with old cross (7)
TANGELO: This cross is a hybrid – A winged messenger follows the abbreviation for t(ime), with the abbreviation for o(ld) at the end

15a    Monarch repulsed by peer is to run off (7)
RECOUNT: Reversal (repulsed) of the abbreviation for our queen followed by a peer or noble. The solution is one of the definitions of “run off” in Chambers

18a    Swimmer‘s to cut around section of waterway (7)
POLLOCK: Reversal (around) of 3-letter word meaning to cut, followed by a section of a waterway used to move between water levels

20a    Grand lake covered in mild rippling twinkled (9)
GLIMMERED: Abbreviation for G(rand), followed by a word meaning lake inside (covered in) an anagram (rippling) of MILD

21a    Grouse caught in noble attempt (5)
BLEAT: Hidden (caught in) the clue

22a    Broadcast majority of conflict around America (7)
DIFFUSE: Two-letter abbreviation for America surrounded by (around) most (majority) of a verb meaning to conflict or not agree

23a    Article in French vessel with great volume is caught (7)
LASSOED: Feminine definite article in French, two-letter abbreviation for a steamship (vessel) plus the abbreviation for a dictionary (great volume)

24a    Boss you hack off produces exclamation of contempt (3-3,5)


1d    Produce changing hands, split equally with good man (7)
HARVEST: A word meaning to divide exactly into two (split evenly) with an L changed to an R (changing hands) and the abbreviation for a good man gives this verb meaning to produce or reap

2d    Brought up daughter with mostly simplistic food (5)
VIAND: Abbreviation for D(aughter), plus most of a word meaning simplistic or green, all reversed (brought up)

3d    Heartlessly whip around school being ostentatious (7)
KITSCHY: a 5-letter word for a whip or a collection of cash (as in whip-round) with the centre letter removed (heartlessly), around the abbreviation for SCH(ool)

4d    Vehicle guarded by explosive weapon (7)
TRIDENT: A colloquial word for your vehicle (as in “pimp my ****”) goes inside (is guarded by) the abbreviation for trinitrotoluene

5d    Moving to Lima, one is at sea (9)
EMOTIONAL: anagram (is at sea) of TO LIMA ONE

6d    Son supplies European officer to set up one of several targets (7)
SKITTLE: Abbreviation for S(on), 3-letter word for supplies or equipment, then a reversal (to set up) of the abbreviations for E(uropean) and an army officer

7d    Went mad to support music event university put off (11)
DISCOURAGED: five-letter verb for went mad or got angry, supporting (ie underneath) a music event with a glitter ball plus the abbreviation for U(niversity)

9d    In Scottish island, plant density shot up (11)
SKYROCKETED: Inside (in) a well-known 4-letter Scottish island we place a plant used in salads, with the abbreviation for d(ensity) at the end

13d    See mud-slinging expose husband as boaster (9)
LOUDMOUTH: Two-letter word for see, anagram (slinging) of MUD, verb (often a preposition) meaning to make public or eject, and the abbreviation for h(usband)

16d    Generally, after losing millions, toll’s put on career (7)
CHIEFLY: Another word for toll (as in what a bell does) without the abbreviation for M(illions), plus a verb meaning to career or to go really fast

17d    Composition switched after radius is found in upper arm (7)
TORPEDO: This composition is a poem, which is reversed (switched) and placed after a word for upper or peak containing the abbreviation for r(adius)

18d    Hawks speed around swallows and owl in the end (7)
PEDDLES: Nothing to do with birds – anagram (around) of SPEED which also contains (swallows) the last letters (at the end) of “and owl”

19d    Troublesome leg to move, after foot’s fully raised (7)
ONEROUS: Another word for the cricket term leg followed by a verb meaning to move or awaken, from which the last letter has been moved to the front (after foot’s fully raised)

21d    Educated person, so crude (5)
BASIC: Abbreviation for a first degree (educated person) plus a Latin word meaning so or thus

My favourites clues were 1a, 8a, 6d, 17d, 18d, because they all had a surprise. Please add a comment and let us know what you liked.

25 comments on “Toughie 1408

  1. It took me some time to parse a number of these, but I did manage to unravel them all except 10A and 19D, though I had the correct answers. I thoroughly enjoyed the tussle. 1A, 14A, 23A, 24A and 5D top my list. Many thanks to proximal and Dutch.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyable with some very smooth surface readings, favourites were 1a 9d and 17d thanks to proximal and to Dutch for the review.

  3. I started this puzzle, solved 6 clues in the time it takes me to complete most Toughies (tough ones not backpage ones) and decided to move on as I knew there was a Tramp in the Graun and an IO (Elgar) in the FT. (Both excellent as was today’s TImes)

    Returned to the Toughie and was no nearer proXimal’s wavelength than before (you’d never think we live in the same county) so, for the first time ever in the history of the Telegraph Toughie, I gave up.

    1. Gosh. Never thought I’d get the better of YOU in a crossword! I did get there in the end myself and thoroughly enjoyed it. I did it over two days in between other stuff, so no idea how long it took.

  4. Another case of starting slowly and gradually things slotting together nicely. The only one I couldn’t parse was 3dn, I’m not sure if a whip is a kitty, unless it’s in the BRB. A fine puzzle,well deserving a Friday slot, thanks to ProXimal and Dutch for the explanation.
    Just checked in the Dictionary of Slang and whip is- money subscribed by a mess for additional wine- a colloquialism of the services, hence whip-round. Bravo Proximal

    1. brb has under whip: (more often whip-round) a collection of cash made hastily by a collection of people. I think that is close to one meaning of kitty, or pot. (as in “has everyone put something in the kitty?”)

      1. Always called a kitty where I grew up. Always called a whip where I live now

  5. Thanks to proXimal for the puzzle and to Dutch for the review. I agree with the ***/*** rating. My favourite clue was 24a. I puzzled over 3d – after some research I think that ‘whip’ is (or was) a slang term in the services for money subscribed by a mess for additional wine (though the BRB doesn’t list this, as far as I can see).

  6. A difficult puzzle to finish the week off. Took a while to get started but eventually mustered up a head of steam. Liked 18a as it’s my middle name (after my Godfather), 24a for the fun of it but 1a is my favourite and first one in. Having served in the RN for 22 years, I can honestly say I have never heard the term ‘whip’ used as a kitty. I’ve heard of ‘whip-round’ and ‘kitty’ regarding money but that’s about it.

    Thanks to proXimal for the workout and Dutch for a splendid review.

    Btw Dutch your answer for 22a is showing

    Have good weekend all.

    1. Yes, brb has whip but whip-round as the more common version – nothing to do with lashing!

      An interesting middle name!

      1. I suppose you could be really lateral and think of cat o’ nine tails as the lash / kitty – Mmmm possibly too obscure.

        In Scotland it used to be traditional to have a surname as a middle name. Mine came from my mother’s maiden name (my uncle / godfather) and it’s a surname which was quite common North of the border.

  7. I have 8 clues solved and I’m not convinced that I’ll solve any others. I cannot get to grips with this at all.

    I’ll keep looking over the weekend but I think it’s safe to say that this one has defeated me.

    Many thanks to proXimal for one hell of a challenge and to Dutch for blogging, I’ve not read it yet but I’ve no doubt it’s great.

  8. Another blinder after Elkamere on Weds. Found it slow but [eventually] steady going. Favourites were 11a [quarter of the world – lovely] 23a [great volume ditto] 1d and 17d [upper arm really threw me].

    Many thanks to proximal and to Dutch for a great review [btw I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on Wednesday’s Elkamere.]

  9. Our experience of this one is much the same as CS above. We found it very difficult and it was only sheer bloody-minded determination by one of us (not telling which one) that saw us across the finishing line, albeit with some electronic assistance. We never did justify the ‘kitty’ part of 8d, despite scouring the pertinent entries in our 12th Edition BRB. Maybe we missed something there. No matter, we did have it worked out correctly it seems. We had a lot of head scratching over 24a. We only knew the expression with the second and third words the other way round, so initially doubted the enumeration. Admire the cleverness but really prefer them a little more accessible than this one.
    Thanks ProXimal and Dutch.

  10. Spent longer trying to parse 17d than rest of grid, D’oh. Thanks to Dutch and proXimal’

  11. We must be on the same wavelength as ProXimal as we managed to finish this one and were amazed to find that great minds like CS and the 2Ks had found it difficult. We did find it really difficult but less so than other Toughies we’ve tried. We really enjoyed the tussle and are very grateful to Dutch for shedding some light on why we got some of them right! Feeling rather pleased with ourselves tonight and looking forward to watching the rest of the fantastic match between Andy Murray and Djokovic tomorrow …

  12. Gave up on that one too.
    With about 8 clues to go all on the right side as it happens.
    Mind you. I couldn’t really concentrate as I was working all day and it’s a real scorcher down here at the moment.
    Took a while to get the expression in 24a but the y-h did help enormously. Never heard of it before.
    Now that I have all the answers I can safely say that I didn’t like it.
    That’s the way it goes sometimes.

    Sorry to proximal and thanks and respect to Dutch for the successful solve and clear review.

  13. Well, this one just clicked for me, and since that doesn’t happen too often I’m enjoying it while it lasts. I saw 1D immediately, and knew then that I had to focus on thinking a bit more outside the box. What I love about these crosswords is that expressions like 1A and 24A pop up that I haven’t heard in decades and they always make me smile. If I had a quibble at all it would be that for me 3D means cheap and tacky rather than ostentatious.

  14. Thanks proXimal ,I enjoyed the challenge ,particularly keen on 11a and 17d and I was not too disturbed by 3d (last in) .
    Thanks also to Dutch for a masterful review.

  15. Never heard of yah boo sucks but Its now my favourite contemptuous phrase !

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