Toughie 2674 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2674

Toughie No 2674 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

Stick Insect provides a start-of-the-week Toughie with, if you solved the backpager first, a touch of déjà-vu. There are a couple of words that solvers may not know but they are clued in a helpful manner

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Mate imprisons Romeo, one involved in second city disgrace (10)
OPPROBRIUM An informal term for a mate ‘imprisons’ the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet followed by the informal way we refer to England’s second city into which is inserted (involved) I (one)

6a    Inflame edge of gum and tooth (4)
FANG A verb meaning to inflame and the edge of Gum

9a    Pet turns over bone in food from Mexico (5)
TACOS A reversal (turns over) of a pet followed by the anatomical (Latin) word for bone

10a    Vile student has MeToo upset (9)
LOATHSOME the letter used to indicate a student and an anagram (upset) of HAS ME TOO

12a    Gossip involves terrible sham means of covering up (7)
YASHMAK A slang term for gossip into which is inserted (involves [a quick beep of the repetition radar was heard here]) an anagram (terrible) of SHAM

13a    Fear god coming in in the morning (5)
ALARM The god of a house inserted (coming in) to the abbreviation for morning

15a    Coincide with friend coming back after some cricket (7)
OVERLAP A reversal (coming back) of an informal friend goes after some cricket

17a    O’Connor perhaps is unable to provide accompaniment (7)
DESCANT Mr O’Connor, the late singer, comedian and TV presenter, would, perhaps, be one example of this name which should be followed by a simpler way of saying ‘is unable to’

19a    Candidate in vote against source of coal energy (7)
NOMINEE A vote against, a source of coal and the abbreviation for Energy

21a    Pervert Frenchman’s quick to seize Spanish aunt (7)
VITIATE the French word for quick to ‘seize’ the Spanish word for aunt

22a    Set of eight books about cold empty economist (5)
OCTET The abbreviation for the first set of books of the Bible goes ‘about’ the abbreviation for Cold and is followed by the outside (empty) letters of Economist

24a    Overthrow permitted for two (7)
COUPLET A verb meaning to overthrow and a synonym for permitted

27a    Enter without payment: takings collapse (9)
GATECRASH the takings from paid entrance to an event and a verb meaning to collapse

28a    Yes, American’s lacking in gluttony (5)
GREED Remove the A (American’s lacking) from a word of assent (yes)

29a    Landmines literally in trees (4)
ELMS If you split the word L AND M IN ES, then you literally see how our setter intended you to work out how to get the trees you solved from the checking letters and enumeration

30a    Arranged to cart a tree, mostly chestnut (10)
TERRACOTTA An anagram (arranged) of TO CART A TREe (mostly telling you to omit the final E)


1d    Curse characters in Number 10 (4)
OATH Hidden in the solution to 10a

2d    Perhaps hippo suffering cramp around London Park (9)
PACHYDERM An anagram (suffering) of CRAMP goes around the name of a London Park

3d    Nothing unchanged for Nineties band (5)
OASIS The letter representing nothing and a two-word phrase meaning unchanged

4d    With bread, soak up fish dish (7)
ROLLMOP Some bread and a verb meaning to soak up

5d    Without prompting, king enters nude, as eccentric (7)
UNASKED The chess abbreviation for King ‘enters’ an anagram (eccentric) of NUDE AS

7d    In telegram, orator raised stink (5)
AROMA Hidden in reverse (raised) in telegrAM ORAtor

8d    Brains evicting unruly civilians from matinee Virgil Tracy’s mishandled (4,6)
GREY MATTER An anagram (mishandled) of MaTinEE viRGil TRAcYs once you have ‘evicted’ the letters CIVILIANS (unruly telling you that they aren’t in that order)

11d    Leader placed cans (7)
HEADSET A leader and a verb meaning placed – here you need to know the slang meaning of cans

14d    Hesitate about working party producing pointless work (10)
BOONDOGGLE A verb meaning to hesitate goes ‘about’ an adverb meaning working and a party. If only our setter had managed to include “American’s” before the pointless work … sigh!

16d    Cuckoo touched nuts and crackers (7)
LUNATIC All four definitions in the clue are informal synonyms for the solution

18d    Flat tyre’s front supports separate pieces (9)
APARTMENT The ‘front’ of Tyre supports (or goes after in a Down solution) an adverb meaning separate and some chess pieces

20d    Cycling family in time before reservation (7)
ENCLAVE A family where the final letter ‘cycles’ to the front and is then inserted into time before an event

21d    Five of us oddly dear to French guarantor (7)
VOUCHER The Roman numeral for five, the odd letters of Of Us and the French word for dear

23d    Carry motorway sign (5)
TOTEM A verb meaning to carry and the abbreviation for Motorway

25d    Blockage I end in diplomatic reasoning (5)
LOGIC A blockage (the BRB defines this as a clog or impediment), I (from the clue) and the ‘end’ in diplomatiC

26d    Almost perfect plan (4)
IDEA Almost all of a synonym for perfect


38 comments on “Toughie 2674

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle although I had not heard of 14d despite practicing often enough! Neither had I heard of the god in 13a. I don’t understand how 16d works so will need to look at the hints for an explanation. My favourite clue is 1a.

    Grateful thanks to Stick Insect for the challenge. Thanks also to CS for the hints, which I will now read.

    I now understand 16d! Thanks, CS and it was a clever clue.

  2. After yesterday’s tussle this was a doozie. Thanks to CS for explaining 29 across. Thanks to Stick Insect for the puzzle. Reference 2 down. What is the difference between a Hippo and a Zippo? One is really heavy, the other is a little lighter

  3. What an incredible word is 14d! I’ve never heard of it before. A well balanced Toughie and such a relief after yesterday’s Dada. Thank you Stick Insect and CS

  4. A much welcome less tough toughie after yesterday’s dnf. All parsed except 29a, I’ll settle for that. Hadn’t heard of 1a, but easily solvable from the clue, anyway I have now and the fact I worked it out becomes my favourite. Many thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  5. A pretty gentle Toughie except for 14d which I’ve never heard of. Thanks to Sticky and CS.
    The clues I liked best were 29a and 16d.

  6. I agree with SL, easier than today’s backpager.

    I had never heard of 14d, so even with an “American” in the clue, I would have been none the wiser. The parsing of 29a was beyond me but 18d gets my vote for COTD.

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  7. A doozie it was after yesterday but very enjoyable nonetheless. 14d was last in & was a hopeful punt (never heard of it) though the wordplay helped. Had to check on the Spanish aunt & 29a was a bung in – would never have parsed in a month of Sundays & not sure I completely get it even after reading the explanation.
    Otherwise all pretty straightforward & completed at a Toughie gallop. Pick for me was 16d as a win treble is hard enough so you’ve got to applaud a fourfold. Liked 1a too – lovely word.
    Thanks to Stick Insect & to CS

  8. This was very light for a Toughie but very enjoyable. My only hold ups were with the parsing of 29a and everything to do with 14d.

    Regarding 14d, I’ve heard of neither that specific meaning of the word for “hesitate” nor the answer. CS has kindly saved from having to mention that it is an Americanism. The best I could come up with for 29a was that LM might be an unsupported abbreviation for “landmines” which appears in the middle of the trees. Thanks to CS for the correct explanation, which is very clever.

    As an aside, the horrendously overused and frequently misused word “literally” brings me out in spots, especially as my stepdaughter literally can’t seem to manage a single sentence without using it, sometimes more than once. (It’s use in 29a is fine :wink: )

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to CS.

    1. Another “literally” is “obviously” when the following information may or may not be. Very common amongst sportsmen/women it seems to me.

      1. All very trivial in the great scheme of things. Ever was. Is now. Ever shall be.

  9. Oh what a joy this was after Mondays back, Tuesdays toughie and back. I know my level and Stick Insect delivered! New words for me in 21a and 14d. Thanks to all and for the explanation for 29a, very clever clue that👍

  10. Most enjoyable, with the house god and pointless work both being new to me, too. 29a my COTD, several other HMs.

    Thanks to Stick Insect, and to CS for the review.

  11. Having worked for GE for many years I am very familiar with 14d. I found this puzzle a little harder than some and required the hints to parse 29a, which I now consider a terrific clue.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  12. Should have learned by now to ignore the ratings that CS gives when she’s in the chair but I obviously haven’t and they still make me squirm!
    Grateful for a few deja vu moments in this one when faced with the unknown god in 13a along with 21a & the almost unbelievable 14d which looked rather like pull cords for bathroom lights.
    Top three for me were 6,17&19a – not the most complex but best for satisfaction!

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to CS for the review – and the illustration of 14d.

  13. Well, I had to look at this when I saw CS’s 1* rating! Maybe I should have tried this toughie, I’m always scared of them. This looks like it was a load of fun.

  14. Well now I know what a Boondoggle is !
    Otherwise a very accessible puzzle.
    No particular favourites, thanks to the setter and CS.

  15. This was a lot of fun, enjoyable from start to finish, and apart from 14d quite friendly.
    I preferred the cluing of 27a to the back page version and thought 8d was clever but my top two are 1a (lovely word and it went straight in as soon as I saw the second clause of the clue) along with 29a
    Many thanks to SI and CS (Wot no clip of the Gallagher brothers!)

  16. I really loved this one, finished it with bonus points online. We hear of 14ds all the time over here, especially with legislatures that pass meaningless bills for self-pocketing projects and pork that produce, e.g., highways that go nowhere and bridges that span nothing. Surprised to see it here but happy to solve it so quickly. 21a gets my nod for the COTD, with 29a a close second, but there’s not a dud in the grid. Great stuff. Thanks to CS and Stick Insect for the thrill.

  17. Just after 5 pm and finished except for 14d. What a ridiculous word! CS’s hint didn’t help either but thanks to her anyway. I was over thinking some of these like 18d – was trying to work flat in a musical sense. Now I can concentrate on the tennis.

    1. Glad it wasn’t just me that didn’t really understand it but the penny dropped eventually. It really is a very clever clue – way too tricky for my tiny brain

  18. Pretty straightforward apart from a couple of bung ins. Having seen the correct parsing of 29a that has become my favourite by a distance. Quite brilliant. Odd that 27a should also feature in the cryptic.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.


    1. Any chance you could contribute in lower case, Christopher, it would make reading your comments so much easier!

    2. Just make your own star rating Christopher. Then you can ignore ours. Glad you finished it. Well done

  20. I knew this was going to be judged 1-star when I was nearly done and checked the blog, but it felt harder than that. I had heard of 14d before but it slipped my mind.

    That was my favourite (for the word) along with 16d for the 4-way (I got it with 3!) and the cleverness of 29a which I didn’t parse properly.

    Thanks to CS for the blog and Stick Insect for my type of crossword.

  21. Luckily one of our team had heard of 14d so that went in easily enough but we did struggle with the parsing of 29a. Very clever.
    Lots of fun and much appreciated.
    Thanks Stick Insect and CS.

  22. Got stung by Stick Insect and was totally unable to get 1a and 14d despite all the checkers in place.
    Now I understand the phrase The mind boggles though.
    21a was also new to me but easier to get from the parsing.
    30a brought back memories of great grandma Elise who used to get on all fours to rub her terracotta tomettes, religiously feeding them linseed oil until they reach a perfect shine. She did so well into her nineties and wouldn’t let anyone else do the job.
    Thanks to Stick Insect and to CS.

  23. Attempted this toughie and nearly finished it so it must have been easy. However, 21a beat me on the foreign words, 30a on the colour suggested, and 14d as a new word to me as well as the replacement for hesitate
    Other than these quite enjoyable.

  24. Very enjoyable Toughie filling an hour of another sleepless night. I thought 29a was absolutely brilliant – I entered it as a bing in, it has to be, but when I read Sue’s Clues I saw how very clever it was. I also liked 8d which I thought was cleverly done. Being, or having been, a textile artist I thought I was pretty au fait with craft words but 14 down takes the biscuit. I wonder when our minds first started to boggle? Does anyone know. Thanks to stick insect and to Sue.

  25. Thanks to Stick Insect and to crypticSue for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, albeit 1* difficulty, which explains why I was able to complete it 😁. I had heard of 14d in this context, but I have had a few pints of it in my time! I had also heard of 21a, but not the two foreign words. Favourite was 8d. Very clever to arrange, I’m also a Thunderbirds fan. Was 1*/3* for me.

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