Toughie 2398 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2398

Toughie No 2398 by Dada

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

For the first time in ages, I have failed to parse one of today’s clues. The definition of 16d was reasonably easy, but the wordplay has eluded me.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Current fabric fine (7)
CHINOOK: this warm dry wind blowing down the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains is a charade of a type of fabric, typically used to make trousers, and a two-letter word meaning fine

8a    Short dresses coming up — very shortly? (7)
TONIGHT: a five-letter word meaning short around (dresses) a word that could mean coming up, as in coming up next

10a    Musician, band member inspiring love, performing (10)
BASSOONIST: a band member, like Bill Wyman, around (inspiring) O (love) ans a word meaning performing

11a    Mend part of sock for the listener? (4)
HEAL: sounds like (for the listener) part of a sock

12a    Type of petrol, now etrol? (4-4)
LEAD-FREE: this could mean missing its initial letter, like etrol

14a    Work on extension, usually very reliable, erratic initially (6)
OEUVRE: the initial letters of six words in the clue

15a    Dirty little thing, wader in the Channel? (11)
GUTTERSNIPE: split as (6,5) this could be a wading bird in a channel

19a    Plain wrapping totally loose (6)
FALLEN: a vague synonym of a plain, more typically a swamp, around (wrapping) a word meaning totally gives an adjective meaning loose or immoral

20a    Those often caged in prison house (8)
CANARIES: a three-letter prison followed by one of the Houses of the Zodiac

22a    Plate or saucer in cupboard is chipped (4)
DISC: hidden (in) inside the clue

23a    Brought down onto seat, reportedly? (10)
OVERTHROWN: a word meaning onto followed by what sounds (reportedly) like a seat of state

25a    Quality gerbil a cat’s snatched from behind (7)
CALIBRE: hidden (snatched) and reversed (from behind) inside the clue

26a    Animal tales by maverick (7)
BEASTLY: not a type of animal but an adjective meaning animal – an anagram (maverick) of TALES BY


1d    Hair remover beginning to shave over ear? (7)
SHEARER: the initial letter of (beginning to) S[have] followed by a word meaning an ear

2d    African beasts piped up (4)
GNUS: the reversal (up) of a verb meaning piped or warbled

3d    King or queen, for example, on in a little while? (6)
HONOUR: two examples of this type of playing card are derived by putting ON from the clue inside a period of time

4d    Chicken cut up, cooked or not (8)
POLTROON: to get this coward, the reversal (up, yet again) of a verb meaning to cut is followed by an anagram (cooked) of OR NOT

5d    On a trip, top competitor (4,6)
HIGH JUMPER: an adjective meaning on a (drug) trip is followed by an item of clothing for the top half of the body

6d    Where comedy may be performed that may leave you in stitches? (7)
THEATRE: two definitions – the second being in a hospital

9d    Dismiss lovely explosive device (11)
FIRECRACKER: a verb meaning to dismiss is followed by a lovely woman

13d    Extra fat in good health? (6,4)
DOUBLE CHIN: do what it says in the clue, i.e. repeat the second word, and you get a phrase meaning good health, as a toast

16d    Often red dish with lines on top, bottom in amber and indigo (8)
TANDOORI: it’s not often that I give up, but this one has me beat!  Thanks to those who offered help, so now it parses as AND (with) goes inside (lines) TOO (on top) followed by the final letter (bottom) of [ambe]R and the letter that can be represented phonetically by Indigo

17d    Brilliant money (7)
CAPITAL: two definitions

18d    Epic poem in book, woeful novel (7)
BEOWULF: B(ook) followed by an anagram (novel) of WOEFUL

21d    Bottom three devastated after end of season (6)
NETHER: an anagram (devastated) of THREE preceded by the final letter (end) of [seaso]N

24d    Flower was revolting (4)
ROSE: two definitions – the first really is a flower and not a river!

Whatever happened to fluffy Tuesday?


38 comments on “Toughie 2398

  1. Add me to the list of those bemused by the parsing of 16d.

    Many thanks to Dada for an enjoyable but not inconsiderable challenge and to BD.

  2. Is 16D ‘and’ inside (lines) too (on top) plus the bottom of ambe(r) and indig(o) ?

      1. I think back of amber is R and I stands for indigo. Remember the ditty for the colours of the spectrum?!

  3. 16d – Often red dish with lines on top, bottom in amber and indigo (8)
    T-OO [with] is around the outside [lines] AND [on top] R [bottom of amber] + I [indigo, phonetic]

    1. Now why couldn’t I see that? The last two letters were the easy bit, and I couldn’t decide which of TOO or AND was clued by “with”.

      Many thanks LbR.

        1. According to Jane’s friend Mr Google, India and Indigo can both phonetically represent I

    2. I’m struggling with ‘lines’ for round the outside. I’ve got ‘lining paper lines the drawers’ in my head, which would put it inside. Have you got a usage example that would help?

      1. Every cloud has a silver lining
        Your paper ‘lines’ the inside [goes round the outside of] of your drawer internally, like a marquee lining

  4. I was surprised to find I’d taken a 4.5* back page time for this one – I was expecting yet another Dada Floughie. I did parse 16d. My favourite, when the penny dropped, was 13d

    thanks to Dada and BD

  5. Best I can do is tan (tangent), d (spectral line for sodium), 00 (model railway gauge), r (bottom of amber), I ( for indigo, but I can’t justify this bit). Anybody got any better ideas?

  6. Crikey me! That was tough. As for 16d I’m not interested in how it’s made. As long as it’s served with a good vegetable curry and a slice of bread and butter.

  7. At last Dada is moving towards something like his Paul persona – that’s good news (he might even be promoted to Wednesdays if I’m lucky!). Thanks to him and BD for the blog.
    I especially liked 15a, 3d,13d and 16d (Indigo is used for I in the UK Police version of the phonetic alphabet).

  8. I failed to parse 16d and it took a while reading the comments above for the penny to drop. I rather like the clue now I understand it. If a clue used this construction in the form “on top of” I am fairly sure I would have got it but I totally failed to think of “on top” in the sense of “in addition”. Nothing wrong with the clue – the “of” is unnecessary and its absence increases the difficulty significantly. Otherwise I guessed the answer almost immediately as I make the chicken dish pretty often and the recipe says “Red Food Colouring (optional)”.
    I enjoyed the puzzle and would classify it as at the easier end of the Toughie spectrum. 13d really made me laugh when I realized the answer.
    With thanks to Dada and Big Dave

  9. Late on parade. I completed it in about 3* (CS I don’t understand how you have different time ratings for back pagers and Toughies?) and found it about 3* enjoyable. 4d and 14a new words to me. Big ticks for 12a and 15a. 10a took ages.

    Thanks for the collective parsing of 16d which had to be what it was. “Too” ? Ok I see it now. Interesting in the light of Mr K’s intro to today’s back pager – if you can’t parse everything then you have not finished.

    Ta to Dada and all others. Stay safe and healthy!

    1. I believe a proper toughie should take longer than a difficult back pager. So I start my star ratings for toughies so that a 1* Toughie should be about the same time/difficulty as a 5* back pager

      1. Interesting. So a 3* back pager (and obviously I’m not going to say what time I would rate that) would classify as, say, a 1.25 Toughie? Not sure I could apply that properly – how do I fit that into the Guardian or the Times, for example, if one doesn’t just have an actual time?

        1. No a 5* backpager is a 1* toughie. Surely if you don’t assess them on different scales, then there’s no point in calling a toughie a toughie, it would just be a second cryptic backpager in a different part of the paper?

          Mind you, that happens so rarely that when I blog a toughie, I always say something about how the difficulty relates to my ideal toughie

          The DT puzzles are the only ones I give difficulty ratings to. For the Times I look at Times for the Times and compare my times with those of a couple of solvers who are about my ‘level’

          1. Not sure, as a crossword is a crossword. Yet, I may try your approach for a while. At least it might not make me, with great admiration to you, feel too inferior if you rate a Toughie as 1*.

            1. Slightly different here, since often the toughie is no more difficult than the back pager
              Back pager is usually 1/2* toughie 2/3* and a proper toughie 4/5*
              As for other puzzles, Graun is usually 2/3* back pager and The Times 3/4* toughie but it’s all a bit meaningless really – I just like solving puzzles

    2. I’m sticking with not rating puzzles at all. I have hardly understood a word of what has been posted on this thread. It’s all about the words not the numbers

  10. I very new to the Toughie and am struggling to see why the definition “very shortly” equates to “tonight”. Even with the question mark this surely depends on at what time the solver is solving! (Unless I’m missing something, which is entirely possible!!). I know if I told my wife at 8 am I’d be meeting her “very shortly” and turned up at 8 pm she’d be less than impressed!!

    1. You may be struggling because you’re trying to exclude rather than include. The question is *can* “very shortly” mean “tonight”?

      eg Have you completed this term’s project yet? Nearly, I’ll have it done very shortly/tonight.

      1. Gotcha – thank you – no point cheating with a thesaurus with the toughie then! 😂

  11. We came straight to the blog this morning to see what we could not work out about the parsing of 16d. Reassuring to find that we were not alone with this.
    Not a quick solve for us (even disregarding 16d) but excellent fun as ever.
    Thanks Dada and BD.

  12. Found that one really tough and hit a complete brick wall when it came to the parsing of 16d – many thanks to those who sorted it out.
    Top two here were the dirty little thing and the extra fat.

    Thanks to Dada and to BD for the blog – is there a typo in the hint for 8a or have I arrived at a different way to parse it?

    1. Hi Jane,
      Same here re 8a. I thought it was a tot as in a shot of whiskey for the short and nigh for the coming up.
      Managed to parse 16d though.
      I am in the too lining and camp. Also knew it didn’t end in an o as it says bottom not bottoms. Hihi.
      While I’m here, thanks to Dada for the fun crossword and to BD for the blog.

  13. In 16d I didn’t care for TOO clued as “on top” and in 19a FEN clued as “plain”.

  14. Got there in the end but in common with most I failed to parse 16d. Loved 10a which was my clue of the day. The late hour of my post reflects both the difficulty and a most enjoyable trip to my local 6d to watch Bang Bang.

  15. Just horrid. Difficult clues, and a terrible grid. Got almost nowhere, apart from the backpage-worthy clues, with this even after several days.

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