Toughie 1474

Toughie No 1474 by Firefly

Hints and Tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

I can’t say that I enjoyed this a great deal. Getting the answers wasn’t very difficult but several of the definitions seemed woolly and there wasn’t a great deal of amusement.

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.

Across Clues

1/3/6a Scythe-wielding fellow chasing date repeatedly (4,5,4)
TIME AFTER TIME – string together the old fellow with the scythe, a synonym for chasing and another word for date.

3a See 1a

6a See 1a

8a When a bowler’s left out without hesitation? (2,3,4,2,1,3)
AT THE DROP OF A HAT – bowler here is something worn. This phrase apparently originated in the American West where such an action signalled the start of a fight or a race.

9a Ruin the setter’s salad (6)
ENDIVE – a ruin or downfall is followed by ‘the setter has’ put into the first person. As well as its usual meaning the BRB says that salad can mean ‘a plant grown for or used in salads’.

10a Victor used soy liberally on seconds (8)
ODYSSEUS – an anagram (liberally) of USED SOY is followed by (on?, in an across clue?) S(econds). I’m probably missing something here, and the answer certainly won a few fights, but is victor a reasonable definition for him?

11a Presents a right good entertainment initially, with less to worry about (8)
LARGESSE – A plus the initial letters of the next three words have an anagram (to worry) of LESS put around them.

13a All right to sit in middle of rumble seat, guys? (6)
BLOKES – an exclamation of agreement (all right) goes inside the middle letters of ‘rumble seat’.

15a Start off model on carpet that’s crumpled (6)
RUGOSE – a verb to model or sit with its starting letter taken off follows a small carpet.

17a Tie provides amusement during dressing (8)
LIGAMENT – put a competitive amusement inside a sort of dressing or bandage.

19a Gone past? If you do, it could be wrong (8)
OUTGROWN – split the answer 3,5 and treat it as a reverse anagram.

21a Alarm going off in retro-rockets — half having got loose (6)
TERROR – an anagram (going off) of RETRO-R(ockets) after its second half has escaped.

22a He’s getting a sight better (15)
OPHTHALMOLOGIST – a Rufus-like cryptic definition. A word which I can never spell.

23/24/25a The fruits of wandering urges? (4,5,4)
FREE RANGE EGGS – this is a sort of cryptic definition cum charade. A phrase meaning ‘able to wander’ or having freedom of movement is followed by a verb meaning urges or incites. The BRB has the first two words hyphenated.

24a See 23a

25a See 23a

Down Clues

1d Salesman‘s almost totally involved in Turkey (9)
TRAVELLER – a past participle meaning involved or complicated without its last letter is contained inside the IVR code for Turkey.

2d Fighter in the ring punched at random — number missing (7)
MATADOR – an anagram (punched, presumably in the sense of ‘knocked about’) of AT RA[n]DOM without the abbreviation for number.

3d Recipient of a dead bishop’s office clutching trimmed robe (9)
ADDRESSEE – A, D(ead) and the office or diocese of a bishop contain a robe shorn of its last letter.

4d Like a siren — or her black and white dress? (3-4)
TWO-TONE – having either a couple of notes or a couple of colours.

5d Cold and damp, we hear, but extensive (5)
ROOMY – this sounds like an adjective used to describe air that’s cold and damp.

6d Morph translator’s style to cover a non-smoker (9)
TRANSFORM – the abbreviation for translator and a word meaning style or fashion contain A and the abbreviation for non-smoker.

7d Perhaps bar food not fully reliable (7)
MEASURE – this bar is a unit of atmospheric pressure. A type of food without its last letter is followed by an adjective meaning fully reliable or guaranteed.

12d Little prince’s stuff? (9)
GEORGETTE – this is a thin silk fabric. Cryptically it could be the diminutive name of the prince who’s third in line to the throne. This doesn’t seem right to me – this particular diminutive form makes him sound more like a princess, since it’s also a girl’s name.

13d Arrest a cashier pretty well for a trifle (9)
BAGATELLE – string together a verb to arrest or catch, A and a cashier without the last letter (pretty well).

14d Rudely treat us as soaks (9)
SATURATES – an anagram (rudely) of TREAT US AS.

16d He dispossesses loan shark without a penny (7)
USURPER – a loan shark containing the abbreviation for penny.

17d Snapper‘s sleekness regularly depresses crew (7)
LENSMAN – the even letters of sleekness precede (depresses, in a down clue) a verb to crew.

18d East-ender’s trial announced — as an accessory (7)
EARRING – this sounds like how a Cockney would pronounce a trial or court case.

20d Live without food or water? (2,3)
ON AIR – I’m not sure how this is meant to work. The answer means live or ‘currently being broadcast’ and when the answer is appended to the verb to live the whole thing means to have no apparent means of sustenance. Does that make this a double definition or a cryptic definition or a bit of both? I’ll let you decide.

The best clue for me was 7d for the requirement to ‘lift and separate’. Which one(s) appealed to you?


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Hear hear.
    Gazza said it all.
    I thought it was just me.
    Autumn always brings the first contagions.
    Hope the DT setters get better soon.

  2. Brian
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    My sort of aToughie, very doable with lots of lovely clever phrases. It would have got 5 stars from me if it wasn’t for 15a, an obscure word for me. Would have finished earlier if I could have spelt 22a, Doh!
    Thx to all

    • Hanni
      Posted September 30, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      No more obscure than plenty of Giovanni’s. And very fairly clued.

    • crypticsue
      Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      My sister has a degree in the subject and I typed her dissertation,. Goodness knows how many times I typed the word but I’ve never forgotten the need for all those Hs.

      • Hanni
        Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        What a fantastic sister you are.

  3. Stone Lee
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Very much agree with Gazza’s comments. Finished it quite quickly but needed help to understand the answers for 9a, 1d, 7d and 17d (missed that man is also a verb!). Favourite was 16d – mainly because the word meaning ‘practice of the loan shark’ still generates so much debate about its true meaning such as whether it is still banned by the RC Church.

  4. Franco
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    7d My bar was musical ♪♫♪ rather than atmospheric …

    Thanks to gazza for the blog …as always far more entertaining than the puzzle itself!

    • dutch
      Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      yes, mine too – works nicely either way

  5. Shropshirelad
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Not really my cup of tea today. Don’t know why. Nothing more to say.

    Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  6. Hanni
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink


    Agree with most of what Gazza said but I found more enjoyment in it.

    Re 10a, yes I would say great victor. Thought 20d was a double definition but I see your point about it being a cryptic one. I also had to look up the spelling for 22a. The cartoon made me smile. My dentist has an unpronounceable last name…I’ve never seen so many x’s, y’s and z’s outside of an equation. I just call her Jo.

    13a and 7d made me smile.

    Many thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for great blog.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    As I was working on this, I couldn’t make up my mind whether some of the clues were really clever and I just didn’t get it, or they were not very good clues so I was off the hook. I did complete it, but I agree with Gazza on woolliness and lack of enjoyment. Maybe next time, Firefly. Thanks, Gazza, for the review.

  8. dutch
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Yes, another different puzzle – some interesting clueing (13a, 19a, 21a), I did not like the little prince at all, nor the spelling test in 22a, seems to me these could easily have been better clues.

    The bottom line reminds me yet again of seeing free range sausages on a menu once, providing an image I haven’t been able to get out of my head.

    20d seems to be another example of the definition doing double duty – it doesn’t work as an all in one, i can’t separate definition and wordplay, which i think makes the clue just wrong, though it was solvable.

    I quite liked 17a (tie provides amusement during dressing) and the siren (4d). I also liked “fighter in the ring” (2d). 15a was a new word.

    Many thanks Firefly and thank you Gazza

    • Hanni
      Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Now I have an image of those free range sausages. Running around a farm?

      • crypticsue
        Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Sainsbury’s has a whole load of strange outdoor-reared creatures, from pork pies to bacon and so on. Never seen any happily grazing in fields though.

        • Jane
          Posted September 30, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          Shame you deleted the last bit of your comment, CS – that made me giggle!

  9. gazza
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Shamus tomorrow.

    • Jane
      Posted September 30, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Oh lord – that could mean drinking in the middle of the day to get onto the right wavelength!

      • Hanni
        Posted September 30, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        The things we do in order to solve a puzzle. Dedication…that’s what it is!

        • Jane
          Posted September 30, 2015 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

          I knew you’d understand.

          • Hanni
            Posted September 30, 2015 at 11:13 pm | Permalink


            You have mail. Been looking at the junk mail problem.

  10. Jane
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Like the back-pager, I found this one to be rather a mixed bag. 2*/3* for me.
    Needed Gazza’s help to fully parse 7d and didn’t know the abb. for translator in 6d.
    Didn’t like 10a and not too happy with the ‘reverse anagram’ in 19a – always struggle with those.
    Of course I had a fight to remember that pesky ‘H’ in 22a!
    Best smiles came from the 1,3,6a trio and the 23,24,25a trio along with 13&20d.

    Thanks to Firefly and much appreciation to Gazza for the words of wisdom.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 30, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that both TR and tr were used in the puzzle. One an IVR code and one an abbreviation but both new to us. It all went together smoothly enough and was a useful and pleasant distraction for us from our blogging anxieties.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  12. dutch
    Posted October 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m now thinking that 20d (Live without food or water? (2,3)) is intended as a double definition, the first definition being “Live” (as in this broadcast is now live) and the second definition would be “without food or water” = “on air”, just because “live without food or water” = “live on air”, so the latter parts must also be equivalent. The first definition then doubles as a “hint”.

    Recently I saw a Boatman clue where he had “The Dickens” clueing “on earth”, just because “what the dickens” = “what on earth”. I didn’t like that either.

    • gazza
      Posted October 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree, but I don’t like it.

  13. Banksie
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink


    Please excuse v late question re this puzzle. Was encouraged to have a go at it by other comments on the site.

    I don’t THINK this is answered in FAQs

    Is the star rating scale the same for toughie and back pager? In other words as you gave this one 2 stars for difficulty, does that mean it took you about the same time as a 2 star back pager?

    I realise it’s all a bit subjective….

    Many thanks

    • gazza
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Hi Banksie,
      All the ratings are very subjective but I (and, I think, other Toughie reviewers) use a different standard for Toughies and back-pagers with regard to difficulty. For me ** for a Toughie would equate to *** or **** for a back-pager.

  14. banksie
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink


    Thank goodness for that. Many thanks for your reply and more generally for your efforts to help me to improve my skills in these darned things