DT 29271 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29271

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29271

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Hello, everyone, and Happy 11th Birthday to Big Dave’s Crossword Blog.  Nice, solid puzzle today, with 11 anagrams in just 27 clues providing multiple entry points into the puzzle.  I suspect that a puzzle that’s 41% anagram is probably a record (although that’s not something that’s easy to check by computer).  I might have had a wee grumble about that if the inclusion of two clues featuring cats hadn’t left me feeling warm and fuzzy about the setter.  Hmmm – I wonder if that was deliberate? 

In the hints below most indicators are italicized, and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions.  Clicking on the answer buttons will reveal the answers.  In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background.  Clicking on a picture will enlarge it or display a bonus illustration.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Celebrity coming from nowhere, now nobody (6)
RENOWN:  The answer is hidden in (coming from ) the remainder of the clue

4a    Line in answer penned by Boris, strangely (6)
ISOBAR:  An abbreviation for answer is contained by (penned by) an anagram (strangely) of BORIS 

8a    Bull and mare desperate for shelter (8)
UMBRELLA:  An anagram (desperate) of BULL MARE 

10a   Antelopes from eastern districts (6)
ELANDS:  Follow the single letter for eastern with a synonym of districts 

11a   Creep from Altrincham (4)
INCH:  The answer is hiding in (from) the characters of the last word of the clue 

12a   Sort out again, finding nothing in tangled earrings by middle of bed (10)
REORGANISE:  The letter that looks like zero (nothing) is inserted in an anagram (tangled) of EARRINGS, and the middle letter of bEd appended to the result

13a   Event about cats and mice run badly (12)
CIRCUMSTANCE:  The single-letter abbreviation for about or approximately is followed by an anagram (badly) of CATS MICE RUN 

16a   Bury lass on front of rocket -- for such a space journey? (12)
INTERSTELLAR:  Link together a synonym of bury, a female name, and the first letter of (front of) Rocket 

20a   Cart jet bumpily over railway path (10)
TRAJECTORY:  Chain together an anagram (bumpily) of CART JET, the cricket abbreviation for over, and an abbreviation for railway 

21a   Excellent of French to provide assistant (4)
AIDE:  Glue together two letters that look like an informal adjective meaning excellent and “of” in French 

22a   Blow it! I may be stuck behind this big creature (6)
WAPITI:  String together a smart blow, IT from the clue, and stick I from the clue behind that lot

23a   Terribly tiring backing Brussels plot (8)
INTRIGUE:  An anagram (terribly) of TIRING is followed by the reversal (backing) of the abbreviation for what Brussels can refer to

24a   Main course served to Americans on board, it's said (6)
ENTREE:  What we Americans call the main course at dinner is a homophone (it’s said) of (2,4) phrase meaning “on [a] board“

25a   Supernatural being eating startled gnu: swallow completely (6)
ENGULF:  A small supernatural being containing (eating) an anagram (startled) of GNU



1d    Ancient Italian six-footer briefly charming (8)
ROMANTIC:  Join together an ancient Italian and all but the last letter (briefly) of an unpleasant bitey insect (or “six-footer”) 

2d    Short chap coming up with unfinished article -- from this direction? (5)
NORTH:  A contraction (short) of a male name is reversed (coming up, in a down clue) and followed by all but the last letter (unfinished) of a grammatical article

3d    Old rare metal detected in animals (7)
WOLFRAM:  An old name for a rare metallic element is found by fusing together two animals.  The first would enjoy the second as a 25a 

5d    Ten sung about weapon (4,3)
STEN GUN:  An anagram (about) of TEN SUNG 

6d    Some sense in this, perhaps: finding undergarment in small room (5,4)
BRAIN CELL:  Concatenate a female undergarment, IN from the clue, and a small room 

7d    Food right on a plate (6)
RADISH:  Put together the single letter for right, A from the clue, and a synonym of plate 

9d    Poor satire upset one, from experience (1,10)
A POSTERIORI:  An anagram (upset) of POOR SATIRE is followed by the Roman numeral for one

14d   Trim spliff in dodgy nightclub (4,5)
CLIP JOINT:  Synonyms of trim and of spliff 

15d   You may find this on your shoulders, end of beard and collar (8)
DANDRUFF:  Combine together the last letter of (end of) bearD, AND from the clue, and a pleated collar 

17d   I let cat out -- that's touching (7)
TACTILE:  An anagram (out) of I LET CAT 

18d   Do something audacious: see if this thing fits (3,2,2)
TRY IT ON:  Taken literally, this expression is what one does to see if an item of clothing or footwear fits 

19d   Musical  lubricant? (6)
GREASE:  A double definition.  The musical is a comparatively recent (1971) creation that was made into a successful film 

21d   21 Across is drunk -- socially acceptable -- cheers! (5)
ADIEU:  An anagram (… is drunk) of the answer to 21a is followed by the single letter meaning upper class and therefore socially acceptable


Thanks to today’s setter.  I’d rate 17d highly even if I wasn’t a cat person, the topical 4a and 23a both raised a smile, and I appreciated how the puzzle signed off with the very apt 21d.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  CON + CHAIR + TOW = CONCERTO

104 comments on “DT 29271

  1. Relatively straightforward but quite enjoyable (**/****). The only thing I had a problem with was the blow in 22a, which I’d not heard of, though the answer was clear anyway. I liked 9d and 14d and the cat clues. Thanks to Mr K (nice cat pictures) Nd the setter.

  2. Agree this did not require much thought, maybe a limit on anagrams would be good as 11 is probably too many, especially with giveaways like 19D, 11A. Thanks for the funny cat pictures Mr K. Thanks to setter also, it can’t be easy trying to get a puzzle that is neither too easy nor too hard for such a diverse set of puzzlers.

  3. I think our blogger has highlighted all the clues I would have shortlisted for a favourite, with perhaps the very topical 23a just topping the podium. Perhaps there were too many anagrams to make it wholly enjoyable, but that is just a personal view. Otherwise no complaints.

    Thanks to our setter and Mr K.

  4. I knew what to do with 9d, but couldn’t make anything of it, so had to use an anagram solver. I still had to check it on googlething.I didn’t do latin at school. The rest was fairly benign. Many thanks setter and Mr Kitty

  5. Bit of a curate’s egg for me, I needed electronic help to check 22a (wap/blow?) along with 3 and 9d. I suspect 14d is pretty dated but it was fairly clued. At least the plethora of anagrams provided an easy foothold and I did like the lurker at 1a, 18d and my COTD 6d. Thought 15d was clever too.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K for his usual imformative review.

  6. Thanks for friendly comments – a bit better reception than my last outing! Re the number of anagrams: try being a setter and see if you can find a better way of cluing a particular word….sometimes the anagram is the best way to produce a neat-sounding clue. It just happened that a lot of the words this time fell into that category – I’ll try harder next time!

    1. Thanks for popping in X Type. Every comment on here is made within the context of us (well me certainly) being in awe of the setter’s skill. Enjoyed your puzzle today.

    2. Thanks for popping in X-Type. It’s always nice to know who has set which puzzles.

      I’ve always found your puzzles light but fun with accurate cluing, which is just right for a Tuesday, and this one is no exception.

      On the subject of anagrams, I had understood that the Telegraph Puzzles Editor provided guidelines for setters and one of these was to specify a maximum number of anagrams (I seem to remember the figure being of the order of 6 – 8). Has that requirement been dropped?

      Many thanks for providing our entertainment today. Many thanks too to Mr K for the great blog and pictures.

      1. Hi again. Re the “maximum number of anagrams” – it isn’t an absolute requirement, just a recommendation: which, like all “rules” can be bent, to suit the circumstances. Obviously our esteemed Editor let it go: so who am I to argue? (P.S. I love anagrams – especially “neat” ones that fit with the clue’s overall meaning…)

    3. Please note that not everyone objects to your anagrams, or, for that matter, wants mind-bending puzzles. Some tiny brains like an easier ride from time to time.

  7. Not having the greatest vocabulary, three relatively obscure words (3d, 22d and 9d (what language is that???, if I had not got 16a, I would have tried shoe-horning Montessori in somehow))..
    I agree, a bit anagram-heavy, but some nice clues in there too.
    The first word of 5d is an acronym, I suppose they are ok?
    15d parsing escaped me, nice clue, thanks for the hint, Mr.K.
    Thanks to x-type too.

    1. HIYD, 9d is one of two Latin philosophical terms popularized by Immanuel Kant in the 18th century.

      1. Thanks. What the connection between Tungsten and 3d?? Sorry, Chemistry and me never got on well together.

        1. It’s another name for the same thing, used more in some other languages; in English we somehow settled on the name that doesn’t match the symbol.

          1. S. I’ve wondered before about why W = tungsten, so I Googled it:

            The name “tungsten” (from the Swedish tung sten, “heavy stone”) is used in English, French, and many other languages as the name of the element, but not in the Nordic countries. “Tungsten” was the old Swedish name for the mineral scheelite. “Wolfram” (or “volfram”) is used in most European (especially Germanic, Spanish and Slavic) languages and is derived from the mineral wolframite, which is the origin of the chemical symbol W.[14] The name “wolframite” is derived from German “wolf rahm” (“wolf soot” or “wolf cream”), the name given to tungsten by Johan Gottschalk Wallerius in 1747. This, in turn, derives from Latin “lupi spuma”, the name Georg Agricola used for the element in 1546, which translates into English as “wolf’s froth” and is a reference to the large amounts of tin consumed by the mineral during its extraction.

    2. I didn’t know that about 5d. I suppose that like radar and laser, it’s now matured from an acronym to a word.

    3. 5Dn’s first element started out as an acronym, but the full word is nowadays perfectly accepted (by most dictionaries) as a “proper” word in its own right – cf Radar, Laser, etc. (I do so love a pedant!)

  8. Thank you, X-Type: as my train arrived at work this morning, I was surprised to find I’d completed the crossword already — I don’t think that’s happened before! And thanks to Mr K: always such fun to read (and bonus kudos for the HTML anchors on individual clues).

    Our 7-year-old was intrigued by the crossword yesterday† and while solving this one I was thinking it would make a pretty good one to go through with them: they’d appreciate the logic in the wordplay and understand how the the clues and answers fit together, even if they wouldn’t be able to solve many.

    Then I got to 14d as one of my last few in, and I’m not sure the 7-year-old needs to learn yet about either the answer or the second word in the clue …

    Anyway, has anybody else here got any experience of introducing cryptic crosswords to children?

    Re 10a and 22a, I’m pretty sure biologists are discovering and naming new breeds of deer-like creatures especially to put in crosswords — surely we don’t need that many of them?

    18d made me smile the most today.

    † As the 7-year-old happened to be walking past, I inquired if they knew any letters of the Greek alphabet — especially a 5-letter one ending in ‘t’ (as I was busily mis-parsing 4d).

    1. Thanks, Smylers, and glad that you appreciated the id attributes on the clues. Nice to see somebody else using them.

  9. An enjoyably straightforward solve completed at a fast gallop which did not ‘kill off’ too many 6ds – **/***.
    One error – the 1d six-footer is actually an eight-footer, a.k.a. arachnid.
    Favourite – the aforesaid 6d.
    Thanks to X-Type and Mr K.

    1. Well,well, well. I never knew a tick was an arachnid. Thanks for that bit of knowledge, Senf. You never know when it might come in handy!

      1. We have plenty of them over here and every Spring we get reminded that they are arachnids while being warned to watch out for them because of the possibility of getting ‘bitten’ (not sure they bite as they ‘burrow’ into the skin) especially by a Lyme disease bearing one. Nasty little creatures! I am not sure what they were put on this Earth to do.

        1. We have plenty in Jamaica, and when they hatch they’re called grass lice. If you walk through grass after a hatching, you can feel them crawling up your leg, and they look like a shadow moving up. Horrid things.

    2. I believe a tick hatches with six legs and the other two grow after it has had its first blood meal. I have no proof of this – just something I “read” somewhere.

  10. I agree with Stephen L that this was something of a curates egg. The first 90% went in very quickly, then I was held up by some frankly (for me) obscure words to finish. ***/*, the kind of puzzle that simply frustrates! Thanks to Mr K for his insights.

  11. 22a and 3d both required some online assistance today without which would have been left blank. Otherwise I found it fairly straight forward.

  12. This was enjoyable but, although I could see 9d was an anagram, I could not get it and had to use the hints. Like Florence, I did not do Latin at school. I got as far as “Amo, amas, amat” then left to do metalwork.

    1d fooled me because I thought the arachnid had the spelling “tick” with “tic” being a muscle spasm. Still, a very enjoyable solve with 15d my COTD.

    With regard to an article in today’s Telegraph who is for the Oxford comma? Personally, I prefer not to use it.

    Grateful thank to X-Type for an enjoyable puzzle and to Mr. K. for the hints and cats.

    1. Re 1d: you are quite correct, Stephen. The clue says “six-footer briefly”, with the ‘briefly’ indicating to drop the ‘k’ from the word for the six-footer (or eight-footer, apparently).

      And regarding Oxford commas, I believe there’s a rule against talking politics on this blog!

      1. I am not sure that discussing punctuation without reference to the ‘prompt’ for starting the discussion is politics. That would mean that we would not be able to discuss one of Lynne Truss’s book.

        1. You’re right, Senf — I was only joshing in suggesting that whether to use an Oxford comma is a political matter.

          On reflection, it’s more of a religion …

    2. I quite like the Oxford Comma although I have to say I did not become fully aware of it until I studied for an MBA in Kansas some 15 years or so ago. It certainly seems to be more de rigueur in ‘American’ English.

      1. I just have an aversion to a comma going before a conjunction but that is just my personal preference. :grin:

        1. Most of the time it is quite unnecessary, but on occasions quite essential to avoid ambiguity. Use when needed.

          1. Like you I’ve never used a comma before a conjunction. Perhaps it is more North American than British?

  13. All straightforward until the 9d stopper. But it is an expression one will remember for the future.

  14. I thought this was very entertaining. Thanks to our setter – you shouldn’t be expected to “ try harder”.
    Agreed, the amount of anagramming decipherage made it slightly easier, but, as X-Type says, this often makes the surface a bit more fun (and there are many puzzles which might rate 3 or 4 stars for difficulty which are desperately dull and fail to raise any smiles at all). I’d rather do a **/**** than a ****/** any day.

    I couldn’t complete 22a without looking it up as I had neither heard of the beast nor the rare synonym of blow. For a while I thought the answer might be a medieval musical instrument, which usually have peculiar names.

    Thanks to Mr K as always, although sometimes I worry that the cats in his pictures are unconscious or worse…….

    1. BTW, I like a bit of moral philosophy and enjoy hypothetical tussles between Kant and John Stuart Mill, so 9d not a problem, except in pronunciation, which you have to be sober to achieve, compared to its easier opposite – a priori.

      1. A priori means reasoning from cause to effect, whereas a posteriori means someone who talks out of his backside! (That’s the more polite version.)

  15. A very gentle Tuesday puzzle, but enjoyable while it lasted. No stand-out favourite today. 1.5* / 2.5*

    1. Hi, JB. Yes, this blog was made in the USA. I started out a K like the 2Ks, but I’ve been an American for many years. I do try hard to write here in British English. It’s a continual battle with auto-correct.

      1. If you were originally a Kiwi, surely you would have started out with Britspeak? After 40 years, I still find it difficult to spell American.

        1. Hi, Merusa. Yes, the first version of English I learned was closer to UK English than to American English, so most of the required spellings and constructions are buried somewhere in my memory. But after speaking and writing American every day for years, I find that it does require some effort to write proper UK English.

  16. An enjoyable puzzle although I hadn’t come across the big animal in 22a before. Wasted some time trying to include gracie in 16a, although it turns out that’s Rochdale and not Bury – c’est la vie

  17. Fairly easy apart from not liking 3d and I did chemistry and physics. 9d because it’s Latin. Another subject I excelled at and pointless when there is a perfectly acceptable English word. 22 a because they are Elks or Moose. Finally the homophones 24 does not work for me.

    1. How can the homophone not work? The answer is an American word and they pronounce it the same way we pronounce ‘on tray’.

      1. F. I agree with the generic pronunciation but that’s because it’s a French word, not an American one, isn’t it?

    2. BobH I have only just read your comment re 24a. I agree with you as per my Comment 33 below but there again I suppose the reference to America validates it.

  18. I liked this puzzle and didn’t mind the number of anagrams. My only hold up was on 16a as I started with “intergal….” on the way to a much bigger space journey.
    I wondered about the use of “old” in 3d. Presumably, this was to indicate that the word is no longer used but I’m not sure that is completely the case. Both Collins and the BRB suggest that the word is pejorative as it was considered of lesser value than tin.
    Many thanks to setter and to Mr K for has typically fine blog.

  19. I quite enjoyed today’s offering, if only because it mentions my home town. (The one just south of Manchester, not the one just north!).

    I didn’t know 9d or 22a, and I’m not sure I have ever seen wap=blow.

    Many thanks to X-Type and Mr K.

  20. On the wavelength for most but was searching for a supernatural being on 21d. An unself didn’t quite seem right – and it wasn’t. Thanks to the X-Man and Mr K. Success at crosswords is definitely a posteriori. Suduko relies more on a priori.

  21. Me again! Too much to just let it go, in these conversations…. The “large deer” is a species in its own right – and last year in Quebec, I had the most dee-licious filet mignon of it (along with Bison and Elk). The “Oxford comma” is not an English affectation: it is absolutely necessary when changing the gist of a sentence, for clarity of expression, and not at all to be railed against as “not allowed before a conjunction” (did you see what I just did, in the above sentence?). As for “a posteriori” etc: they are Latin phrases brought into (mostly legalistic) English, because they are a way of expressing a more complex meaning in very few words…’bye for now…

    1. I remember the Oxford comma being explained to me (and the rest of the class, of course!) by an American (!) trainee teacher about 57 years ago in primary school in this country (we did things differently, then!). His advice was that you could use it if you wanted to or not. I never have but I think your illustrative sentence reads perfectly well with or without the comma. I have no problem with “a posteriori” and liked the anagram. I cannot comment about the large deer having never had the (dis)pleasure of trying it. I did, however, look it up to check it was right!

    2. I’m a big fan of the Oxford comma, to me it’s entirely logical, and the only time I wouldn’t use it is if the clauses were short as below.
      “He wrote plays and he also acted”

    3. XT. You are spot-on with your example of the correct/required use of the “Oxford comma”, above. But the most common discussion regarding this comma is when it is used (some say unnecessarily) in a simple list of items (or whatever), such as: “… in the UK, Germany, and Spain”.

      1. “the UK, Germany and Spain when it matters”
        “the UK, Germany, and Spain when it matters”
        “the UK, Germany and Spain, when it matters”
        Clarity is the test for all punctuation: “have you eaten Grandma?”

        1. Yes, absolutely, it should be used (or not) when it matters for clarity. Giving an old chestnut of an example where a comma (not an Oxford comma) is obviously required is no help when specifically discussing whether the Oxford comma should be used (as a matter of principal/habit) after the second item in a simple list of 3 items.

  22. Wow! So much erudition in some of the comments that X-Type has generated by his puzzle. What an excellent blog today – thank you all for the enlightenment! Re the puzzle, I thoroughly enjoyed those clues I could solve. Thank you Mr 🐈 for your fine explanations and for taking the trouble to translate them to UK English.

  23. Done and dusted in a relatively short time apart from the necessity to look up the unfamiliar 22a antelope and a long pause to work out the 9d anagram – beyond my Latin skills, I didn’t get much further than the tales of Romulus and Remus!
    Nice to see the location of my grammar school get a mention – I don’t recollect there being many creeps around but then it was rather a long time ago.

    Thanks to X-type and to Mr K – loved the 8a but couldn’t quite decide which way round would be the best way to employ it, what happens when it fills to the brim!

  24. **/****. Very enjoyable. No complaints from me re ticks, anagrams or 22a. Thanks to x-type and mr K.

  25. An enjoyable solve for us. We knew the large deer in 22a as it was introduced to NZ at some stage. Its name could easily be mistaken to be be a Maori word as ITI is a common suffix meaning small (although this is a big deer).
    Thanks X-type and Mr K.

  26. I really enjoyed this, not least for the educational blog discussions.
    I knew the animal in 22a, but I would’ve spelt the smart blow as “whap”, probably from reading too many comics.
    I feel so clever today, I solved 3d pretty smartish as I remembered it, not because I know the first thing about it.
    Faves were the cat clues.
    Thanks to X-type for the fun and to Mr. K for his always informative hints.

  27. The blog today was as educational and enlightening as the puzzle. thy synonym for blow and the deer-like creature it produced were both beyond me today. I have filed it away for future use as these antelopes etc crop up a lot. 24a was an obvious bung in but I had to say it out loud a few times before the homonym worked. Lots of the others were a pleasure and I didn’t notice the anagram heavy thing so I agree that it should be a guide not a rule. I particularly liked 11a as I think I knew him 😜 9d an education too but once I got the checkers it filled itself. my surviving 6d is off for a rest.

    Thanks to Mr K and X-type

  28. A nice enjoyable solve **/*** 😃 9d was new to me thank goodness it was an anagram 😬 Favourites were 6d and 22a 👍 Thanks very much to X-type and to Mr K (useless info: 22a ,a regular Countdown word, was a bi-plane that was the mainstay of the RAF in the Middle East between the two Word Wars made by Westland 🌴

  29. That was testing but not excessively so possibly due to a surfeit of anagrams. SW was a bit slow to yield. 24a depends on how the first two letters are pronounced. Amazing the contexts in which MrK finds outlets for feline associations! I didn’t know the big creature in 22a or the heavy stone in 3d comprising two more animals. 15d just about qualifies as a Fav. Thank you X-Type and MrK.

  30. I was going to comment and say that I found this harder than the toughie but I seem to be out on a limb and any road the blog was as much fun as the crossword. Damn Aston Villa have just scored. Many thanks to all.

  31. Fascinating blog today! I’d never heard of a wahiti. Still don’t understand the American reference in entree. Never mind. Thanks to all.

    1. Hi, Greta. Re entrée, Chambers says:

      1.A dish served between the chief courses of a formal dinner, ie between fish and roast meat, also (esp N American) a main course, and (esp Aust) a starter

      So in Australia and NZ, entrée refers to the starter, in the US it refers to the main course, and elsewhere it’s somewhere in between.

  32. I found this a tad annoying. I was sailing through (even managed 9d) thinking it was one of the easiest crosswords I’d done and then I got completely stuck on 3d and 22a, neither of which I had heard of and which I couldn’t guess from the clue. So rather frustratingly I had to resort to electronic help which distinctly spoilt the sense of fun and achievement.

  33. Well sometimes it pays to comment late. Reading the comments was almost as entertaining as trying (and failing) to complete an enjoyable if anagram packed crossword – great to have the setter contributing.
    A pretty straightforward solve other than 9d which took a couple of stabs and confirmation courtesy of Mr Google (I’m with Hoofit where Latin is involved). I gave up however at 22a, read the hint & looked at the pic – still couldn’t get it……..
    I wonder if a wapiti will stick in my brain in the same way an agouti does.
    Thanks to all.

  34. Mr K, thank you so much for the delightful cats – and for the help parsing 9d! It rang a (very distant) bell, but it’s a very long time since I did Latin!
    X-Type, thank you for a most enjoyable solve!
    PS: I like the Oxford comma, and use it often!

  35. Great fun. Stymied by 22a and needed Mr K’s help with 3d and then remembered why the symbol for tungsten is W. Great cat photos and the enormous leaf hiding another cat of sorts. No complaints from me about the alleged surfeit of anagrams. Thanks to setter and blogger.

  36. Reading it all at breakfast on Wednesday, very busy yesterday, did the crossword very late – great fun, enjoyed the comments (what would Lyn Truss have to say about my punctuation?)

  37. The crossword, review and blog comments are an enjoyable education – thanks Mr K and especially X-type. Doing this one a day late gave me a chance to enjoy all three components to the full. Even if I had never heard of 22a, I have now!

  38. Very busy blog indeed.
    Happy official 11th birthday to Big Dave.
    Never complained on a Tuesday.
    Always as good as ever.
    Thanks to X-Type and to Mr K.

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