Toughie 1831


Toughie No 1831 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch


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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

I did feel a little panic when I saw the setter’s name but happily I managed to do this before the school run this morning, within 3* difficulty time. I found the pesky 4-letter words quite hard – they were my last entries.

As usual, the definitions are underlined, the hints explain the wordplay, and you can always reveal the answers by clicking on the HIDDEN MESSAGE buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Like oars boy used in Channel (6)
BLADED: A 3-letter boy goes inside (used in) a 3-letter channel or river-bottom

5a    Go east by a path beside wood (4,4)
FIRE AWAY: A 3-lettered conifer, the abbreviation for E(ast), A from the clue and another word for path

9a    Variable Jiffy bags a disadvantage (10)
INCONSTANT: A jiffy or a short period of time contains (bags) a 3-letter disadvantage (opposite of pro)

10a    This settled in a band, you’d get neglected (4)
DONE: If you place the answer inside A BAND, you’d get a word meaning neglected

11a    Kind of funny putting food outside bowl (8)
DROLLISH: Another word for food or course goes around (outside) a verb meaning to bowl

12a    Bawdy king is with queen, English (6)
RISQUE: The Latin abbreviation for king, IS from the clue, and the abbreviations for QU(een) and E(nglish)

13a    Pirate joke died (4)
KIDD: A verb meaning to joke or tease plus the abbreviation for D(ied)

15a    Chase ancient character going around behind river (3,5)
RUN AFTER: A character from an ancient Germanic alphabet ‘going around’ a nautical word meaning behind, plus the abbreviation for R(iver)

18a    Revolutionary founder with on-line firm is wunderkind, perhaps (4,4)
LOAN WORD: A word meaning to founder or sink plus an American on-line firm, all reversed (revolutionary)

19a    Light punch (4)
LAMP: Two meanings, the first obvious and the second is a slang word I had to check in brb

21a    Stay strongexercise (4,2)
CHIN UP: Two meanings – advice to remain cheerful in a difficult situation and an exercise for the arm muscles

23a    Crew’s almost completed fancy seating area (8)
RING SIDE: A crew or gang, with the ‘S, and the first 3-letters (almost completed) of a 4-letter fancy or notion

25a    Out of shape with middle that’s round (4)
FROM: A word for shape or mould in which the middle two letters have been swapped

26a    Anger about High St store, one stuck in M&S feeling desperation (2,8)
IN EXTREMIS: A 3-letter word for anger goes around (about) a 4-letter high street fashion store, plus the Roman numeral for one inside (stuck in) M and S

27a    Contacted ship before period in ocean (8)
MESSAGED: The abbreviation for SteamShip before a 3-letter period of time, all inside a shortened name for an ocean

28a    Hard to put a name to home that’s not obvious (6)
HIDDEN: The pencil abbreviation for H(ard), plus a 2-letter shortened verb meaning put a name to or identify, and a home or lair


2d    Cosmetic that’s put in bin (5)
LINER: Two meanings, some eye-makeup and something you put in a bin before any rubbish (I had ROUGE first, thinking wine goes in a bin)

3d    Potentially disastrous knocking over spirits and large port (4-5)
DOOM LADEN: Reversal of a word meaning spirirts or emotional state, the abbreviation for L(arge), and a port in Yemen

4d    Extract from dandelion’s head is served up pickled (6)
DISTIL: The first letter (head) of D(andelion), IS from the clue, and the reversal (served up) of a word meaning pickled or drunk

5d    Bird feeder darn thief nobbled (9,6)

6d    Two notes on enclosure to be quiet (8)
RETIRING: Two notes from the sol-fa scale plus an enclosure (for bookmakers at a horse race perhaps, or for boxing) gives the answer meaning quiet or withdrawn

7d    They help man, indeed, so regularly (5)
AIDES: Even letters (regularly)

8d    Continually going up with boring gold stratum (2,7)
AD NAUSEAM: Reversal (going up, in a down clue) of a conjunction meaning with or in addition to goes inside (boring) the chemical symbol of gold, plus a word for stratum or layer in a mine

14d    Train wild rhinoceros to skip around (4,5)
IRON HORSE: An anagram (wild) of RHINO(c)EROS after removing (to skip) a Latin abbreviation for about

16d    Very quickly pulls out of joint parting meal (4-5)
FULL SPEED: An anagram (out of joint) of PULLS goes inside (parting) an informal word for meal

17d    Mechanical device is old, fully blocking clutch (8)
COUPLING: The abbreviation for O(ld) and a 2-letter word that can mean fully (definition 30 in brb) go inside a verb meaning to clutch or to hang on to

20d    Belt turned up in school bag (6)
SNATCH: Bag is a verb as in grab. A word meaning to belt or give a hiding is reversed inside (turned up in) the abbreviation for SCH(ool)

22d    Heroes of horsemanship recalled (5)
NAMES: Reverse hidden (of … recalled)

24d    Club cut short campaign (5)
DRIVE: A 6-letter golf club without the last letter (cut short)

Training a rhinoceros to skip (14d) conjured up quite an image and is my favourite clue today. Which clues did you like?



  1. Conrad Cork
    Posted June 16, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks both. Worth saying is that 14d is a wonderful surface.

  2. jane
    Posted June 16, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    So near and yet so far – 18a defeated me. Too busy looking for revolutionaries and child protégés!
    Thought 22d was a little weak?

    Tops for me was 26a (been there, felt like that!) with a nod to 5d, particularly in light of your illustration, Dutch.

    Thanks to ProXimal and to Dutch whose assistance I needed to fully parse 10a & the ‘up’ in 8d.

    • Tony
      Posted June 16, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

      18a was my only one missing as well.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted June 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Cheated to get the first letters of 25A and 17D, and defeated by 18A . 14D was my favorite. Thanks to ProXimal and Dutch.

  4. crypticsue
    Posted June 16, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Took a long time to get started but I got there in the end – I’d give it 4*/2* despite my favourite – 26a – summing up my experience every time I visit that store

  5. RayS
    Posted June 16, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Mostly reasonably straightforward. I too was defeated by 18a and it took a while for the penny to drop for 25a. ***/***. 14d my favourite today.

  6. ShropshireLad
    Posted June 16, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fair enough for a Friday Toughie, but I’m not sure how much I enjoyed it. There were plenty of ‘Aha!’ moments but not so many :) moments. Still, it keeps the old grey matter busy. I think my favourite was the long anagram at 5d – I had been hoping that it would help me to unlock some other clues – it didn’t.

    Thanks to proXimal for the challenge and to Dutch for his review.

    Have a good weekend all.

  7. PLR
    Posted June 16, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Like the others was stumped by 18a and 19a was a bung in. Somewhat above my pay grade this puzzle.

  8. Lesley
    Posted June 16, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Defeated by 18a. Although 8d was obvious from the letters, I still don’t understand the parsing, even with the hint. OK just looked again and got it. Thanks guys.

  9. Paul Dunn
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    Re 27ac, surely the Med-(iterranean) is a sea not an ocean?

    • Gazza
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog, Paul.

  10. Tedgar
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A bit late to this but one of my favourite solves in a long time thanks to excellent surfaces and a good level of difficulty for me I.e. not too tricksy. Lots of ticks (14D, 26A got two). Thanks proXimal and Dutch for unravelling 10A.

  11. Bernard Juby
    Posted June 21, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink | Reply

    My favourite was 5A Fire away but I had never heard of the phrase “loan word” for a wunderkind and the Med is NOT an ocean but a sea so I got rather cross.

    • Posted June 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      A loan word is a word “borrowed” from another language – so wunderkind is an example, indicated by perhaps, not a synonym.

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