Toughie 2080 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2080

Toughie No 2080 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello everybody.  To follow the last bank holiday before you-know-what, we have a Giovanni puzzle in his usual style.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the a number buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative — click only if you wish to reveal all.



1a    Sage will lose his heart readily (4)
SOON:  I had assumed that the sage was a biblical wise man, but early commenters have offered an alternative: an Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet, one of the Seven Sages, without his central letter (will lose heart).  Thanks to Verlaine and Ash Cooper for introducing me to the sage

3a    I mess about, surprisingly unlikely to get sozzled (10)
ABSTEMIOUS:  An anagram (surprisingly) of I MESS ABOUT

9a    Singer‘s key ring (4)
ALTO:  One of the keys on a computer keyboard (press that one plus F4 to see one of its functions) followed by the ring-shaped letter

10a   Adam’s boy is found in school, under the influence of a drug (10)
COCAINISED:  A son of Adam and Eve plus the IS from the clue inside (is found in) a school for boys and girls.  I didn’t know this was actually a word, so it was something of a surprised when it emerged from the wordplay and checkers

11a   Foot of old companion jammed in box? (7)
TROCHEE:  It’s a metrical foot of two syllables.  O(ld) and a Companion of Honour inside (jammed in) something of which box is an example (the definition by example being indicated by ?)

13a   Come down to back section of hospital board (7)
ENTRAIN:  (Of wet stuff from the skies) to come down is to go after (to back) a hospital department frequented by crossword setters.  The definition is to board a railway locomotive.  I think I’d only heard of this word’s opposite, the one meaning to disembark

14a   Superior person in the ascendant, by gum — one to bring purity (11)
PASTEURISER:  After (by) gum (5), we have a single letter used to indicate superior or posh and someone (or something) ascending.  One killing germs by heating

18a   Nasty smell around, only with perfume added not as evident as before (11)
OBSOLESCENT:  A bodily smell reversed (around) and only (4), with a perfume (5) added

21a   Habit of soldiers in revolt (7)
APPAREL:  The abbreviation for the Royal Engineers goes inside shock or outrage

22a   Die, concealing one desire (7)
PASSION:  Die (4,2) containing (concealing) the Roman numeral one

23a   Endlessly configuring new group of languages (5-5)
FINNO-UGRIC:  These languages are an anagram (… new) of all but the last letter of (endlessly) CONFIGURINg

24a   European from Portugal, 21 (4)
LAPP:  Put the answer to 21a after Portugal and you will find this European lurking within

25a   Journey once given page at start of book? (10)
EXPEDITION:  A prefix meaning once or formerly and P(age) go before (at start of) a copy of a book

26a   Point made by seductive woman at higher level? (4)
WEST:  It’s a compass point, and the seductive woman is probably Mae, but I have to ask you about the higher level.  The named woman was a high earner so perhaps it refers to that, but I’m not convinced.  Thanks to Kevin Burdett and Giovanni himself for confirming that the second part of the clue is the high-level seductress who said “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” in She Done Him Wrong (1933)



1d    New businesses — do they win prizes at agricultural shows? (5-3)
START-UPS:  Split (4,4) these might be prize-winning rams

2d    Shed you found flooded by river (8)
OUTHOUSE:  An old or dialect word for you (4) contained in a British river (any one of several with the same name)

4d    I don’t like that semi-fervour for drink (5)
BOOZE:  Alcoholic drink is made of a sound expressing disapproval or contempt plus half of (semi-) a word meaning fervour or ardour

5d    English playwright with a line to indicate a type of movement (9)
TRAVERSAL:  An English writer and playwright followed by A L(ine).  Movement across

6d    Painters and others like him spending time with economists (11)
MONETARISTS:  After a French impressionistic painter goes a word for painters etc. in general, losing (spending) one of the occurrences of T(ime).  The extraneous s has now been removed from the clue online

7d    Much-bigger-than-average Welsh girl who wrote poetry (6)
OSSIAN:  The abbreviation for outsize and a Welsh feminine name.  Here, “who wrote poetry” is defining “the narrator and purported author of a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson from 1760” — thanks Wikipedia.  If you want a further hint as to the name, when I typed it into a well-known search engine, the suggested autocomplete entries were: Gibson, Reese Williams, Welby, Williams, Phillips, Lloyd and Brooke

8d    Carol, girl being protected in a dead-end location? (6)
SIDING:  Carol as a verb, with another female name (a shortened version) contained within (being protected).  A short bit of railway track

12d   Horrid home, a ramshackle pile (11)
HAEMORRHOID:  An anagram (… ramshackle) of HORRID HOME A

15d   Hurry — come down to see a wicked thing! (9)
RUSHLIGHT:  A word for hurry plus come down or disembark

16d   Hover, as 22 Down looking over gallery (8)
LEVITATE:  The surname of a 22d, an Italian Jewish chemist, writer and Holocaust survivor, followed by (over, in a down clue) one of a network of public art galleries

17d   Notice clumsy worker being grabbed — without hesitation, a nasty guy (8)
STINKPOT:  To notice visually, with a clumsy or unskilled worker (not a tailor, soldier or spy) inserted (being grabbed), the worker having had a two-letter hesitation removed

19d   Tripe as breakfast food? (6)
WAFFLE:  Two definitions: babble, or a small batter cake

20d   Speak freely as writer engaged by academic publisher (4,2)
OPEN UP:  A writer (3) inside (engaged by) the initials of an academic publisher

22d   Elevated notes may be associated with such old-maidish love (5)
PRIMO:  The principal part in a duet or trio.  Prudish or straight-laced plus the letter which can be used for zero (love, in tennis for example)


Thanks to Giovanni.  My favourite clues today are 9a and 1d.  What did you think?


These hints and tips are for anyone who might find them of use (and who doesn’t need help now and then?).  The asides and illustrations are to add a personal perspective and some colour.  The comments section is — or should be — for everyone.  Please do ask if you need anything clarified, have any suggestions as to how the blogs could be improved, or have anything else you’d like to say.


32 comments on “Toughie 2080

  1. Hello, I’m back, did you miss me?

    I found this a bit harder than usual for a Giovanni, but enjoyable in the bits that weren’t like pulling teeth – I’m thinking particularly of 1a (surely it’s SOLON, not SOLOMON?) and 26a where I share your reservations, though I think the “at higher level” refers to it being an airman’s item of apparel. Additionally I’ve clearly watched too much Princess Bride as I really wanted 1a to begin with an I. 6d is also a really obscure playwright to clue the most unhelpful definition of the answer possibly. But yes, mostly I was annoyed by the 4 letter words which could have been a thousand different things having really obscurantist wordplay. Alphabet trawl ahoy!

    COD to 23a as it’s a lovely word, one of my favourites, and a surprising (nearly) anagram!


    1. Having said that, any route that gets people to the right answer is a good route, isn’t it? No classics degree explicitly required for this one (o tempora, o mores!, etc)

  2. I thought that Giovanni was being a bit frisky today (as well as giving us his full ration of obscurities) – thanks to him and to Kitty.

    I think that 3 letters rather than 2 need to be deleted from your sage at 1a (although I – thanks to Google – had a different sage, one Solon, of whom Wikipedia writes “The travel writer Pausanias listed Solon among the seven sages whose aphorisms adorned Apollo’s temple in Delphi.”).

    I took ‘at higher level” in 26a to be referring to the Scottish use of mae to mean ‘more’ but I could be way off track.

  3. Needed the hints to finish the last few after running out of time – definitely tougher than normal for a Tuesday. 15d was new to me, as was 10a but both were easy enough to see once the crossers were in place. Can’t help with 26a.

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni

  4. 26a Mae West is quoted as saying “come UP and see me sometime”. I’m thinking that is the reference to ‘a higher level’

    1. You’ve changed your email address since your last comment, which is why you went into moderation.

      That’s an interesting interpretation, and my favourite so far. Given the number of ideas (and no ideas!) we’ve seen, perhaps a stretch further than it’s fair to ask of solvers.

      1. Interpretation confirmed. Clue originally reffered to novelist Rebecca, but she was deemed too obscure by the editor, so the well-known high-level seductress appealed to me as an alternative.

  5. Apologies to the Don, but I didn’t enjoy this puzzle one bit, so I’ll keep it brief.

    Too much GK, ancient history, names, unusable words and other obscurities which do nothing for me I’m afraid – it has been promptly filed without much effort to tackle it.

    Thanks to Giovanni all the same, and thanks to Kitty for persevering.

  6. Ouch. This was a tough one for me. Needed a few helps from the electronics. But hugely enjoyable. 16d is maybe my favourite because it took me a while to cotton to the thing had a wick! Been caught on similar before. Never heard of 23a. My mind nearly always goes to metrical when I see foot these days.

  7. Giovanni has a singular understanding of what a Toughie should be (choose whichever of the eleven meanings of the word listed in Chambers you feel is most appropriate) and this could not have been the work of any other setter.
    Too heavy on the not-so-general knowledge even for me.

  8. We had a query for 26ac and wondered about WEST but couldn’t really justify it. I, too, had removed LOM from Solomon (and muttered about that not being cryptically sound for ‘heart’) so thank you Gazza for introducing me to Solon. We liked the FINNO-UGRIC anagram but felt that was just a little bit obscure for a Tuesday Toughie. An enjoyable puzzle that took us twice as long as the back page cryptic – which, I suppose, is how it ought to be.

  9. Hardest Tuesday Toughie for some time and the first time in ages I couldn’t complete half!! Too many obscurities/GK for enjoyment so, sorry, not for me. 4*/1* But, tomorrow is another day :)

  10. Be honest! Did anyone get 23a without electronic help?
    And isn’t 10a an ugly word for an ugly habit.

    1. Yes, we did but that was my Uni subject of study and it was a fairly generous anagram.

  11. I did enjoy this, and I was pleased to have been able to finish. However, I confess that 26a was my last in – and entered on the basis of the definition alone. I was fortunate to have been able to track down the several things that I was not familiar with (English playwrights, language groups, et al). I do acknowledge there is pleasure in the discovery of new words and knowledge, but for me obscurities add a layer of challenge that I do not really find enjoyable or welcome. I thought there were some wonderfully crafted clues – 6d for instance. Many thanks to Giovanni and Kitty.

  12. I didn’t get the clue but my contribution today is to note that what Mae West actually said to Cary Grant in She Done Him Wrong was ‘Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?’

    Of course, to get the full effect you need the drawl and the walk.

  13. If you have ever had an ENT surgeon poking instruments up your nose after squirting anaesthetic in your nostrils your nose has been 10a.

    I didn’t need help with 23a and am not a linguist, but 26a was a bung-in.

    Thank you Giovanni and Kitty. Please ignore your critics, Giovanni; I really enjoy the obscurities and rare words.

  14. Mae West famously said “come up some time and see me”, so she would be in an elevated position. I think this is what is referred to in 26 across.

      1. Yes, welcome, John – and yes, it’s good to read others’ comments before posting your own. I’ve now added this to the body of the blog.

  15. We got stuck on the two pesky four letter answers in the SE. We had the 24a European from the definition but could not see the parsing, probably because we wanted to use an IVR code. We did twig the correct parsing of 26a once we had the right answer. Certainly more challenging than we have come to expect for a Tuesday Toughie.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

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