Toughie 2774 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2774

Toughie No 2774 by Serpent

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Serpent provides a Toughie of a difficulty level right in the middle of the Toughie spectrum. He always hides something in his grids – did you spot the compass points in the appropriate places in the solutions??

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Nonconformity of odd characters from next door confused with youth (11)
UNORTHODOXY An anagram (confused) of the odd characters from NeXt DOOR with YOUTH

7a    Man weighed down by the world taking time off finally (5)
ATLAS Remove the abbreviation for Time from a two-word phrase meaning finally. This character from Greek mythology was condemned to hold the heavens on his shoulders. The image of him with the world on his shoulders was used as an illustration in a book of Mercator’s maps published in 1595

8a    Strongly criticised adult in accepted role (4,5)
TOOK APART The abbreviation for Adult inserted into a way an actor might say they accepted [the] role

10a    Prohibition era bungled attempt to clip mob’s wings (7)
EMBARGO An anagram (bungled) of ERA and an attempt into which is inserted (to clip) the outside letters (wings) of MoB

11a    Right for one motoring club to hold races in sporting event (7)
REGATTA The abbreviations for Right and for example (for one) followed by a motoring organisation, some abbreviated motorcycle races being inserted (to hold) in the latter.

12a    What has a pronounced effect on El Niño? (5)
TILDE A sign used over a letter n in Spanish to indicate a particular sound – if you printed off the Puzzles site version of this crossword, the last word of the clue was shown as “Nio” but provided you knew how to write down the second word of the climate pattern, the solution was clear

13a    Demanding son lives in temporary shelter outside (9)
INSISTENT IN (from the clue) and a temporary shelter go ‘outside’ of the abbreviation for Son and a synonym for lives

16a    Flasher wearing ripped coat covered with lots of dirt (9)
INDICATOR A preposition meaning wearing and an anagram (ripped) of COAT, the latter covered with the first three (lots of) letters of DIRt

18a    Marine creature more likely to bleed when caught (5)
SEPIA This cuttlefish sounds like (when caught) a word meaning more likely to bleed

19a    Takes issue with the idea of making money illegally? (7)
KIDNAPS A cryptic definition of the action of a child-taking criminal

22a    First floor is managed by those in power (3-4)
TOP-DOWN A synonym for first and a verb meaning to knock to the ground (floor) combine to give an adjective meaning controlled by the most important or powerful people

23a    Held back career winning acceptance for disheartened, vulnerable youngster (9)
NURSELING A reversal (held back) of a synonym for career or race and a way of saying winning acceptance for without its middle letter (disheartened)

24a    Generally, underwear is filled with this elastic material (5)
OSIER The inside letters of a term for knitted goods, especially underwear

25a    Quiet American politician not backing out blocks major settlement (11)
SOUTHAMPTON An instruction to be quiet, the abbreviation for American, a politician and a reversal (backing) of NOT, into which is inserted (blocks) OUT (from the clue)


1d    Murder victim featured in French article after another died in America, nameless (9)
UNLABELED The American spelling of a synonym for nameless – the first murder victim in the Old Testament inserted between (featured in) a French indefinite article and a French definite article, the result finished with the abbreviation for Died

2d    Comply with notice (7)
OBSERVE Double definition

3d    Person who gets under your skin and makes a lasting impression? (9)
TATTOOIST A cryptic definition of someone who makes a lasting impression on your skin

4d    Pervasive character associated with US party lines (5)
ODOUR Sneaky capitals time – a party ‘lines’ a possessive pronoun meaning associated with us

5d    Fruit loop rants about end of civilisation (7)
ORANGES The loop-shaped letter is followed by a synonym for rants which goes ‘about’ the letter at the end of civilisatioN

6d    Means of raising votes in favour of parliament’s closure (5)
YEAST Some votes in favour and the ‘closure’ of parliament

7d    We aren’t sick, hurt or knocked out (3-8)
AWESTRICKEN An anagram (hurt) of WE ARENT SICK

9d    Filter tricky question about school (3-8)
TEASTRAINER A tricky question goes about a verb meaning to school

14d    Concocted plan to serve up great dishes (9)
STRATAGEM A reversal (to serve) up of a synonym for great and some dishes

15d    Former political organisation is upset about bombing? (9)
EXPLOSION The usual two-letter ‘former’, an abbreviated Middle Eastern political organisation, a reversal (upset) of IS (from the clue) and a preposition meaning about

17d    Church had gold and property in France (7)
CHATEAU The abbreviation for church, a synonym for had and the chemical symbol for gold

18d    Second of two drinks (7)
SUPPORT Two drinks, the first a verb and the second a type of fortified wine

20d    Parties stopped by King lead to Independence Day? (5)
DORIS Some parties (we had one of them before in 4d) into which are inserted (stopped by) the Latin abbreviation for King and the ‘lead’ to Independence. Had this particular ‘Day’ not appeared elsewhere recently, it might have taken me slightly longer to recognise the definition in this clue

21d    Smart point that’s not particularly precise? (5)
SWISH A two-letter compass point and the suffix used to indicate that something is not particularly precise

As this is my last review of the year, I’d like to take the opportunity to wish Serpent and all the other setters, bloggers and commenters a Happy and Healthy New Year – I sincerely hope that it will be a better one than the last two years for all of us, especially Mr and Mrs BD

21 comments on “Toughie 2774

  1. I found this very tricky especially the bottom half – thanks to Serpent for a proper Toughie. Thanks also to CS for the review.
    My podium contains 12a, 19a and 20d.

  2. Struggled with this all morning and was beaten by 3 in the SW corner. I never really thought about willow being elastic underwear material, I so wanted the answer to be “Lycra”! Anyway, stockings are surely not underwear? To me, 18a is a colour collected from cuttlefish not the creature itself and I have never heard the expression in 22a. We live and learn.
    Best wishes to CS, all our bloggers and especially Mr and Mrs BD.

    1. the solution to 24a is a material that is elastic enough to bend and make into baskets. Although these days we think of hosiery as stockings and socks, it is, as I say in the hint, a term for underwear, especially knitted undergarments. As well as referring to the ink/colour, 18a does mean a cuttlefish

  3. Owing to work commitments I only get to look at the Toughie at weekends so am too late to comment. Christmas gives me my first opportunity to do so. The top half went in easily enough but the bottom half put this in ***/**** territory for me. Favourites were 19a, 6d and 23a. Many thanks to Serpent for the great challenge and to CS for the help she has given me throughout the year.

  4. I found the bottom half a good deal trickier than the top – at first I thought I was going to breeze through in 1* time, but it was not to be. As CS says, just the right level for mid-week. I didn’t think to look for the hidden treasure until Sue reminded me, then found it without having to ‘click here’, so I’m giving myself half a point for that.

    Loved the use of ‘US’ in 4d, and smiles also for 18a, 19a and 20d. Most enjoyable – thanks to CS and Serpent.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this terrific puzzle. Plenty to savour, especially 19a, my last entry and favourite.

    My thanks to Serpent for the challenge, and to CS for this review and all her work for this site over the year. It is much appreciated.

  6. Me too! I thought this was a floughie until I reached the lower half then ground to a halt and it really took an effort to finish. Maybe the penny-drop moments for 19a and 20d were worth the effort.
    Thanks to Serpent and CS.

  7. I too found this difficult and I needed the hints to parse 23a, 14d and 21d but I got there so I’ll settle for that. Favourite was 20d. Thanks to Serpent and CS.

  8. Smooth solve until the last two in 23a and 21d.
    Thought that the convention for the former was to use half hearted rather than disheartened when it comes to double letters.
    Thanks to Serpent and to CS.

  9. Raced through the top half………Crawled through the bottom half. Totally missed the compass points.
    Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Serpent and CS.

  10. Lots of desperate guessing enabled me to finish this tricky but enjoyable Serpent Toughie (18a, 24a, 4d) but I also needed some electronic help along the way. So a DNF, really, even with a full grid. Missed those hidden directions but will nominate those perimeter clues now as my favourites! Thanks and a Happy New Year to CS and to Serpent.

  11. I got a bit carried away with being able to do yesterday’s Toughie, so thought I’d have a stab at today’s over lunch. Oh dear, I quickly came crashing down to earth. Would not have come up with the answers to 18a (only know that as a colour), 19a a very strange definition, 23a and 24a (new words to me). I was also one who tried desperately to make Lycra fit in 24a. Thanks to Serpent and CrypticSue.

  12. Superb puzzle, thanks Serpent & CS. Like others, started easily enough but bottom half seemed much trickier. Way too many good clues to choose a favourite really – but no, the fiendish 4d takes it … far from LOI but last one parsed (LOP?) by some distance! (Given the quality of the clues, the repetition of the ‘party’ was easily forgiveable)

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