Toughie 1490

Toughie No 1490 by Messinae


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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This is a pleasant puzzle which is not too tricky and which raised a few smiles. It would have been only ** for difficulty but there were two words that I didn’t know.

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

1a Plot to beat chaotic situation (6)
BEDLAM – charade of a plot (in the garden perhaps) and a verb to beat.

4a Two muscles I have in case (8)
ABLATIVE – this is a grammatical case which will be familiar to all those who studied Latin. String together two abbreviations for muscles in the body and add the contracted form of ‘I have’.

9a Company’s determined to indulge (6)
COSSET – the abbreviation for company plus the ‘S followed by an adjective meaning determined.

10a Garment engineering graduate gets about a pound (8)
BATHROBE – an engineering degree contains A and a verb to pound or pulsate.

11a Standard I set in a record of Nirvana (9)
PARADISIC – start with a standard score then insert I into A and a record.

13a Little auk catches a fish (5)
ROACH – I needed the checking letters for this one because I didn’t know the word for the little auk. Insert an A into it to make a silvery freshwater fish.

14a Upper-class girl set about in spreading hypocrisy (13)
DISSIMULATION – reverse the letter used to mean upper-class and the title used for a girl and put them inside a word meaning spreading or growing larger.

17a Letting waters flow the old way (7,6)
WATLING STREET – an anagram (flow) of LETTING WATERS.

21a Over yielding leg bye perhaps (5)
EXTRA – double definition, the second a type of run scored at cricket.

23a Festival to enjoy with artist in bar (5,4)
MARDI GRAS – it was a real d’oh moment when I realised what sort of bar was involved. Insert an informal verb to enjoy or appreciate and the usual artist in an edible bar.

24a Introduces part of Bible in psalm I arranged (8)
IMPLANTS – put the abbreviation for the older newer part of the Bible into an anagram (arranged) of PSALM I.

25a Servant attending earl’s farewell (6)
VALETE – a manservant is followed by E(arl) to produce the plural form of a Latin word meaning farewell (i.e. the word a Roman would have used to bid farewell to a group of people).

26a Terrible tragedy with end of leg caught in machinery (8)
GADGETRY – an anagram (terrible) of TRAGEDY containing the last letter of leg.

27a The Italian with fast pulse (6)
LENTIL – an Italian definite article follows a Christian period of fasting.

Down Clues

1d Muscle got from second-grade mushrooms I consumed (6)
BICEPS – our third muscle of the day comes from the letter used to mean second grade and edible mushrooms with I inserted.

2d Ring dishing dirt about someone ultimately (9)
DISCREDIT – start with a ring or circle and add an anagram (dishing) of DIRT containing the ultimate letter of someone. This is an all-in-one clue though the definition is not very precise (I presume that for the definition ‘ring’ means telephone).

3d Programmes finish in a fun occasion (7)
AGENDAS – insert a finish into A and an informal word for a fun occasion.

5d Accountant needs to stand article on bar (4,7)
BEAN COUNTER – a verb to stand or exist and an indefinite article precede a bar or worktop.

6d Some spread harm and unrighteousness (7)
ADHARMA – this is a Sanskrit word for unrighteousness which is used in Hinduism. It’s not a word that I knew but it’s pretty easy to spot as it’s hidden (some) in the clue.

7d Going round circuit, length one mile, a racetrack (5)
IMOLA – the letter that looks like a circuit and L(ength) have the Roman numeral for one, the abbreviation for mile and A going round them. The answer is a racetrack in Italy where what I consider to be the most boring sport in the world takes place (stands by for complaints from petrolheads).

8d Creature roaming the planet endlessly (8)
ELEPHANT – an anagram (roaming) of THE PLANE[t].

12d Feature of election night gets more excited covering victory (11)
SWINGOMETER – an anagram (excited) of GETS MORE contains a victory. In spite of the ever more extravagant and complicated graphics produced on election nights nothing has ever beaten (for me) the clarity and simplicity of the original device used by Professor Bob McKenzie and which looked like he’d spent 5 minutes knocking it up in his garage.

15d Cross brief entering popular court (9)
INTERSECT – an adjective meaning brief or succinct goes between an adverb meaning popular or trendy and the abbreviation for court.

16d Comprehensive school’s initial greeting (8)
SWEEPING – the initial letter of school is followed by what Scots mean by ‘greeting’.

18d I serve a captain in religious role (7)
IMAMATE – split the answer 1’1,1,4 and it could mean ‘I serve a ship’s captain’.

19d Leave country spurning good Arab land (7)
EMIRATE – today’s old chestnut. A verb to leave one’s country without the G[ood].

20d Old rifle made of bone (6)
OSTEAL – the abbreviation for old followed by a verb to rifle or plunder.

22d With listening device on phone, newspaperman made recording (5)
TAPED – ‘on phone’ is trying to persuade us that this is a homophone but in fact we need a listening device which, when attached to a phone, allows others to eavesdrop. Add the usual abbreviation for a newspaperman.

The top clues for me were 23a and 12d. Which one(s) floated your boat?


  1. Hanni
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink


    This would have got a lower difficulty score but I guessed at 18d and never did see the bar bit in 23a.

    6d was also a new word but as Gazza says it’s clued well enough to spot and look up. 20d had to be dragged to the front of my brain. It took all the checkers for 11a to fall.

    Favourite clue was 12d but now I understand 23a it pips it to the post.

    Nice illustration for 10a Gazza. Doing my best not to comment about 7d..but boring? Boring?

    Many thanks to Messinae and to Gazza for a great blog.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    25a was my last one and wondered why the setter used such perfect Latin when in 3d he added an S to a Latin plural form.
    17a made me think of ShropshireLad. Surely the fastest way to come over and visit.
    13a was quite obvious but learned a new word too. Same with 6d.
    26a favourite for its smoothness.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza for the review.

    • Gazza
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      The ODE says ‘Although agenda is the plural of agendum in Latin, in standard modern English it is normally used as a singular noun with a standard plural form (agendas)’.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted October 28, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that Gazza.
        You always are a reliable source of information.
        But tell me. Who wrote the OED? Vicky Pollard? Yes but no but.

    • Hanni
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      You two should try the Latin crossword in the Saturday Times. Holy moley.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      JL, I live but a stone’s throw off the said route – you are more than welcome to join me in my local hostelry for a drink or two anytime

  3. Shropshirelad
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Much happier today as it seems my crossword solving ability has returned – Hurrah! An enjoyable puzzle with some really good clueing and a couple of ‘gimmes’ for me in 17a & 16d. Can’t recall having come across 11a before but perfectly gettable through the word play. I certainly can’t remember the last time Messinae posted a toughie but it was well worth the wait IMHO.

    I think I will plump for 12d as my favourite as Gazza has already said – you can have Jeremy Vine et al bouncing about on all types of graphics, but nothing beats it’s simplicity.

    Thanks to Messinae for the puzzle and Gazza for the review.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Hi SL.
      Liked the link you posted last night.
      My brother, a TV producer, spent two weeks on the “Charles De Gaulle” between Djibouti and Toulon. Life below deck was a wonderful experience according to him.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted October 28, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Thanks JL – Ah the memories. When in Portsmouth many years ago, we hosted a French warship ‘La Suffren’ and they invited us back on board. When I started singing ‘J’Attendrai’ the wine and champagne flowed all night

  4. stanXYZ
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    2d – I wondered where the definition was – thought it might have been a typo in the paper.

    16d – I’ve only been to Scotland twice – but I’ve never been “weeped”.

    23a – This “bar” seems to becoming very popular – see last Thursday’s PJ back-pager (19a)

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Stan – re 16d ‘greeting’ is a Scottish term for crying. Normally pronounced without the last ‘g’.

      As in the term – the we’ans greetin’ = The child is crying.

      • stanXYZ
        Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        16d – After a comprehensive search of the BRB I still “cannae” (scottish) find “weeping” meaning “greeting”.

        I suppose it’s just one of the many things in life that I will never understand!

        • Gazza
          Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          If you look up greet I’m sure that you’ll find it as a Scottish verb meaning to cry or weep.

          • stanXYZ
            Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, gazza!

            My comprehensive search through the BRB started from “weep … ”


        • Expat Chris
          Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

          Greet meaning to weep is in my BRB 9th Ed.

        • Jane
          Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

          If you still need convincing, Stan, there are several Youtube clips of the famous Scottish folk song – Coulter’s Candy (also known as Ally Bally Bee). Plenty of ‘greetin’ going on in that one!

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    A few new words, but very pleased that I (and my trusty BRB) completed this without too much difficulty. 10A gave me pause because the degree is indicated differently over here and I have heard of BEng but not BE. Not at all convinced that steal is the same as rifle. To me, to rifle is to rummage. Several stand-outs, including 12D ( not heard that one before but it’s such a great word), 16D and 18D. Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza. Nice to have you back!

  6. dutch
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    6 new words/meanings for me in today’s puzzle (20d, 16d, 6d, 25a, 17a, 13a). Even though 17a was not familiar to me, I though it was an exceptionally beautiful clue.

    Caught out by the bar again!

    Some discussion on whether “with” can mean after (27a) on the DIYCOW website.

    Many thanks Messinae and thanks as always Gazza (in 24a, surely it’s the newer part of the bible?)

    • Gazza
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, dutch. As Captain Mainwaring would have said ‘I was waiting to see who’d be the first to spot that mistake’.
      What was the conclusion of the ‘with’ discussion? To me it means ‘along with’ so could mean either before or after.

    • Jane
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      No wonder some of us fail miserably from time to time when we don’t even pick up on something so glaringly obvious.

      • Kath
        Posted October 28, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

        I noticed it but decided that it was a trick to see if anyone was paying attention – thought he’d probably be right because he always is!

  7. Kath
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Defeated by four – I admit that one was 6d. I can’t see hidden answers when they”re words I know – what hope do I have when I’ve never heard of it.
    I needed the hints to understand a few of my answers.
    As others have said we had the 23a bar recently.
    I’ve never heard of 17a.
    I liked 27a and 22d. My favourite was 26a.
    Thanks to Messinae and to gazza.

  8. Jane
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Your ratings on Toughies invariably leave me feeling woefully inadequate, Gazza – Mr. Google and I had to work hard for some of these.
    Took inspired guesswork and subsequent research to arrive at 6,18&20d and to work out the second definition of 21a.
    Thank goodness we’d had the 23a bar recently and thanks also to Chris’s mushroom soup recipe for leaving the second part of 1d uppermost in my mind – it was delicious, by the way!
    Didn’t know the bird name at 13a – I know it’s called a Rotche but have never seen it spelt that way before. As a result, I tried to use Roc -a Great Auk – but couldn’t think how to justify the ‘h’ to turn it into a Little Auk!
    Don’t recall coming across be=stand previously.
    Liked 16d and would give the red ribbon to 4a.

    Thanks to Messinae – think I’ve only tackled one of yours before today – must remember to have the reference books to hand for the next time!
    As for you, Gazza – I wondered how you were going to justify trawling through pics of scantily clad ladies for today’s review – that’s some 10a! Sorry to be boring but think I’ll stick with the fluffy towelling variety!

    • Hanni
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      I thought 24a was the obvious one for a pic.

      • Jane
        Posted October 28, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        Now that you mention it…!

  9. KiwiColin
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Like others, there were a few new words in there for me, little auk and unrighteousness for example, but the one that gave most trouble and the last one in was 16d. Short sharp clues and lots of clever wordplay. Really good fun.
    Thanks Messinae and Gazza.

  10. Wolfson Bear
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree with what I perceive as the consensus – a number of words that were either unknown to me or lost deep in distant memories or were slightly stretched synonyms from my previous understanding of words. However all were eminently “guessable” and I think I could have finished it if I had been on a train without electronic aids. Overall a puzzle that belonged on the Toughie page, not unduly hard, and had a few good clues.

    Thanks to Gazza and Messinae

  11. alan claxton
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Did no one else think 18 down was a rubbish clue?????????????? Can’t believe them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Expat Chris
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      Are you saying that if I say it wasn’t a rubbish clue you won’t believe me? I certainly didn’t think it was rubbish at all. I thought it was clever and fun. I checked it as one of my favorites. That it was not to your taste doesn’t make it rubbish. There’s a kind of unspoken rule of thumb around here of not insulting the setters.

    • Hanni
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Nope. It was one I guessed at and a lovely moment when the word play clicked.

    • Jane
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      The only rubbishy thing about 18d was my pathetic attempt to get to the answer. Even having determined that Imam had to be the religious reference, I tried for the longest time to make it end with ‘ace’ in the divine hope that the ‘c’ would represent the captain. At Mr. Google’s insistence, I finally got the correct word but it was much further down the line before I read it for what it was. At that stage, like Hanni, I thought it was great fun – who knows, I might even remember it for next time!
      Sorry, Alan, but are you sure you haven’t confused ‘rubbish’ with ‘frustrating’?

    • stanXYZ
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      18d – I liked it – I didn’t burst out laughing when I finally understood it … more of a quiet chuckle. A very clever clue.

    • Kath
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      Hear, hear to the rest of ’em! I couldn’t do 18d but I think that makes me rubbish not the clue.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted October 29, 2015 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      Sorry Alan – perfectly acceptable clue IMHO