Toughie 1552

Toughie No 1552 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Antony and Cleopatra

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Toro was unable to do today’s review, so Ant and Cleo have stepped in.

Cleo says:
“I found it very slightly trickier than I would have expected from Warbler. She is on my list of setters I want to blog/meet and I’ve achieved a quarter of that today, with my half a review!”

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 Hints by Cleo

1a A fruit that sounds repulsive (4)
UGLI: An unattractive hybrid citrus fruit, the name of which name sounds like an adjective meaning repulsive.

3a Woman’s letter is inconsiderate (10)
DISMISSIVE: An abbreviated woman’s name (don’t forget the S – woman’s) followed by a formal or official letter.

8a Pleased grid’s well-nigh complete (8)
GRATEFUL: A grid followed by almost all (well-nigh) of a synonym for complete.

9a He might knock down  mate (6)
FELLER: Another word for a lumberjack (he might knock down) or an informal way of referring to a boy, man or mate.

10a Former Eastern navy sail (6)
LATEEN: A triangular sail often used in the Mediterranean is obtained from another way of saying former and the abbreviations for Eastern and navy.

11a Outspoken ego, even around five feet in height (3,5)
EYE LEVEL: A homophone (outspoken) of the way one would refer to oneself (ego) followed by a synonym for even.

13a Appropriate footwear for instructors (8)
TRAINERS: These instructors might wear footwear of the same name.

14a Refills glass with best drink (4,2)
TOPS UP: Another word for best followed by the verb meaning to drink so useful to Crossword Setters.

16a He famously wrote short story about return of European king (6)
STOKER: Return indicates the need to reverse the abbreviations for European and King and insert them into almost all of (short) STORy

19a Dance enthusiast joins one comically desperate game (8)
FANDANGO: An enthusiast, the Desperate one usually found on the front page of the Dandy comic and an originally-Chinese board game.

21a Vote to rewrite gaffes, interrupted by Unionist and Republican (8)
SUFFRAGE: The right to vote, especially in public elections. An anagram (rewrite) of GAFFES interrupted [separately] by the abbreviations for Unionist and Republican.

22a House including soldier’s hut (4-2)
LEAN-TO: Insert one of the usual soldiers into the fifth House of the Zodiac.

23a Antrim inimitably offers famous place on coast (6)
RIMINI: A famous city on the Adriatic coast of Italy can be found in AntRIM INImatably.

24a Extinct tiger‘s doom is left strangely unknown in the end (8)
SMILODON: An anagram (strangely) of DOOM IS L (left) finished off by the end letter of unknown. He sounds more friendly than he looks!

25a Excited spaniel runs energetically at first round new plants (10)
PERENNIALS: An anagram (excited) of SPANIELS R (runs) E (energetically ‘at first’ and N (new) gives us plants that last for many years.

26a Finally they go over remembrance for long ago (4)
YORE: The final letters of theY gO oveR remembrancE

Down hints by Ant

1d    In France a bull’s regularly confined by barriers. As are horses and cows (9)
UNGULATES: the French indefinite article followed by the odd (regularly) letters of [b]U[l]L[‘s] inside some barriers. Said bulls are also part of the definition

2d    Imprisoned old fellow must get over sentence just at a critical moment (2,3,4,2,4)
IN THE NICK OF TIME: a phrase meaning imprisoned (2,3,4) followed by O(ld), F(ellow) and a (prison) sentence

3d    Backs  justification (7)
DEFENCE: two definitions – the function performed by backs in a game like football and a justification, usually one given in court

4d    Your counterparts alone in possession of very right answers at last (7)
SOLVERS: a word meaning alone around (in possession of) V(ery) and followed by R(ight) and the final letter (at last) of [answer]S

5d    Bend in fine line twisting over court (7)
INFLECT: an anagram (twisting) of FINE L(ine) followed by the abbreviation for C(our)T

6d    Processing of English flax plants with 26 is obvious (4-11)
SELF-EXPLANATORY: an anagram (processing) of E(nglish) FLAX PLANTS and the answer to 26 Across

7d    Make a mistake turning up, see Hollywood star as his friends knew him (5)
ERROL: a verb meaning to make a mistake followed by the reversal (turning up in a down clue) of a two-letter word meaning see gives the first name (as his friends knew him) of Hollywood star Flynn

12d    Pecuniary source of old currency (3)
ECU: hidden (source of) inside the clue

15d    He or she perhaps going to church to pass judgement (9)
PRONOUNCE: the part of speech of which “he” and “she” are examples (perhaps) followed by one of the usual two-letter abbreviations for church

17d    Foreign character‘s only half educated (3)
TAU: the first half of a verb meaning educated

18d    Once again straighten out tipsy gal in ER (7)
REALIGN: an anagram (tipsy) of GAL IN ER

19d    Delivers excellent climbing plant (7)
FREESIA: a verb meaning delivers or releases followed by the reversal (climbing in a down clue) of a two-letter word for excellent

20d    Twerps putting name on topless boxes (7)
NELLIES: N(ame) followed by the kind of boxes that show broadcast moving pictures without their initial letter (topless)

21d    Run in to prevent temper tantrum (5)
STROP: R(un) inside a verb meaning to prevent

Ant enjoyed this puzzle while it lasted (which was not very long in his case).


  1. Shropshirelad
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was slightly trickier than Warbler’s usual puzzles, but enjoyable nonetheless. The SE corner was the last area to cough up it’s answers as I couldn’t see the wood for the trees in 20d – maybe I should have gotten 9a and his two Irish mates to do a bit of chopping. I had the ‘dance’ and the ‘hut’ parsed – but couldn’t get nitwits or ninnies to fit until the penny dropped with a loud thump.

    Favourite is 24a as it’s a new word to store in the memory banks.

    Thanks to Warbler for the puzzle and to Ant & Cleo for their review. I will check my inbox earlier in future.

  2. Una
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I find it really difficult to pick just one favourite, although Kath’s away (and the mice will play ). 11a , because it was so unexpected.
    Getting 1a and 2d immediately helped a lot.
    Overall, a terrific puzzle, so thanks to Warbler and our two new love-birds, Antony and Cleopatra. :bye:

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Neither new nor love birds. We’ve collaborated several times before. The authors list has the wrong number in the brackets

      • Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        For some reason 3 or 4 user names were deleted during last month’s frantic tidy up – will try to restore them.

        • Jane
          Posted February 17, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink

          Any chance you can ‘restore’ the rest of us at the same time?

  3. Hanni
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I found this much trickier than other puzzles by Warbler but very enjoyable. I always panic when I see that there is an anagram for a plant (25a) as I’m useless with plants but that wasn’t too bad.

    Like the SL the SE was the last to go in. Although I had all the anagram letters for 24a and a vague memory of the word I still had to double check. 26a was bunged in as I could not figure out why the last 3 letters were what they were for awhile. I also had trouble with 11a for some reason although I smiled when the penny dropped.

    Favourites are 3a, 24a and 4d.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to Antony and Cleopatra for a great joint blog!

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this, though I thought 1A was hardly toughie-worthy. Not a fan of 11A either. Depends how tall one is. I did not know 10A and shamefully had to reveal a letter before it clicked, but I had heard of 24A. Favorites are 4D, 15D and also 19D just because its one of my favorite flowers. Thanks to Warbler, and to Ant and Cleo. It’s a long time since you two put in an appearance!

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable crossword.
    Only had to check the tiger which, like Hanni, rang a bell.
    Lateen sails are such a beautiful sight on the Med.
    Thanks to Warbler and to Antony and Cleopatra for the review.

  6. Rabbit Dave
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    This was not too taxing but great fun. Like SL, I had written “nitwits?” and “ninnies?” in the margin for 20d while waiting for some checkers, after which they both got crossed out!. 10a was a new word for me – I must have seen them on the Med without knowing what they were called.

    My favourite is a toss up between 15d and 4d, with a special mention for 3d just because I love brief cluing.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to Ant & Cleo.

  7. stanXYZ
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Ant and Dec Cleo for explaining 20d – D’oh … those boxes.

    Still need some help in explaining why 7d is what it is. Did his enemies have another name for him?

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      If you were newly introduced to a person you didn’t know – he’d probably say ‘Good Morning Mr XYZ’. If your friends saw you they would probably say ‘Hi Stan’. Does that help?

      • stanXYZ
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink


        Thank you, Lad,

        (Sometimes the clues are easier than they appear to be.)

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink


  8. KiwiColin
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    The SE corner was the last to yield for me with the same options for 20d that are mentioned above also featuring on my list. For 9a I had thought that the South American tree with the name being the last word in the clue might have been part of the word play but it all points to the same answer anyway. On reflection the plant sounds more like a shrub than a tree so probably does not need a 9a to deal with it. Plenty to keep me amused and smiling like a big-toothed tiger.
    Thanks Warbler and the team.

  9. crypticsue
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    There’ll be rejoicing in Devon (and Kent too) as Micawber returns to the Wednesday toughie spot tomorrow :yahoo:

  10. Jane
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Always enjoy Warbler’s puzzles and this was no exception, although I did have to look up 10&24a – both new for me.
    I’m another one who tried to justify ‘nitwits’ for 20d and spent a while looking for a specific variety of plant to fit 25a.
    11a & 15d get my votes today – good old Van der Valk!

    Thanks to Warbler and to Ant & Cleo – sure I’ve been told who forms that duo on the blog, but can’t quite remember!

  11. neveracrossword
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Not too taxing for a toughie. Though I wasn’t sure whether 24a was meant to be what it is, or the lesser known (but more elegant) slimodon. Thank you A & C, and setter.

  12. warbler
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Apart from writing fair clues, my main aim is to provide enjoyment. When solvers use words like ” amused, fun, enjoyable, terrific ” then I feel that I have achieved my aim. Thanks to all of you.

    • Hanni
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for dropping in too Warbler. Lovely puzzle.

    • Jane
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Nice to hear from you, Warbler. Good day when I see your name at the top of a Toughie. :good:

  13. Shropshirelad
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Always lovely to have the setter dropping in, it’s most appreciated. If I had checked my emails earlier I would have had the pleasure of doing the review of your puzzle. Maybe next time.

  14. Heno
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Warbler and to Cleo & Ant for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but needed 7 hints to finish. Had never heard of 10&24a. Was 4*/3*for me.

  15. Tstrummer
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, good stuff from Warbler. New words for me at 10a and 24a, which required dictionary checking. Lots to like, but the winner is 19a with 15d runner up. Thanks to Richard and Liz and Warbler. 3*/3*