Toughie 3222 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 

Toughie 3222

Toughie No 3222 by Stick Insect

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Toughie Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Stick Insect’s turn to provide the Wednesday Toughie – this one has lots of opportunities to brush up on your knowledge of abbreviations

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a    Cable disentangled from propeller (4)
ROPE Hidden in (so can be disentangled from) the last word of the clue

3a    Scarper with current friend, OK (10)
LEGITIMATE An informal ‘instruction’ to run away (scarper), the symbol for electric current, and an informal friend

10a    Arrest female student following literary support (9)
BOOKSHELF A verb meaning to arrest, the feminine form of the third person pronoun (female) and the abbreviations for student and Following

11a    Letter to Ephesians, a letter initially in a bottle (5)
PHIAL The 21st letter of the Greek Alphabet (Ephesus was a city in Ancient Greece), A (from the clue) and the initial letter of Letter

12a    The German times race (5)
DERBY The German definite article and a word used in multiplication to mean ‘times’

13a    Putting down vegetable in spring finally (9)
SQUASHING A type of vegetable, IN (from the clue) and the final letter of sprinG

14a    Migrating base two kilometres inside Hertfordshire town (8)
TREKKING The letter that is the base of the natural system of logarithms and two abbreviations for Kilometre inserted into a Hertfordshire market town

16a    Statement found in rubbish by Detective King (6)
DIKTAT Some rubbish goes by or after an abbreviated detective and the chess abbreviation for King

19a    Help agreed after former PM departs (6)
MAYDAY An interjection expressing agreement and the abbreviation for Departs go after a former Prime Minister

20a    Simple spider might describe its residence thus (8)
HOMESPUN Split 4,4 this might be how a spider would describe its residence

22a    Novel artist in adopting old pattern of lines (9)
STRIATION An anagram (novel) of ARTIST IN ‘adopting’ the abbreviation for Old

24a    Free stamp (5)
FRANK Free or open and/or a stamp

26a    Send off team in return, abandoning court (5)
EXILE A team of eleven players inserted into a reversal of ‘return’ in the sense of return to office without (abandoning) the abbreviation for court

27a    I can time railway route (9)
ITINERARY I (from the clue), a can, a period of time and the abbreviation for railway

28a    Way to decide winner of row about European holiday (10)
TIEBREAKER A row goes about the abbreviation for European and a holiday

29a    Group prohibited on the radio (4)
BAND A homophone (on the radio) of a synonym for prohibited


1d    Fanatical, starts to rail against broadsheet papers (5)
RABID The ‘starts’ to Rail Against Broadsheet and some abbreviated documents

2d    Support tyre when cycling around India, showing decency (9)
PROPRIETY A support followed by the cycling of the first two letters of TYRE to the end of the word, the result going ‘around’ the letter represented by India in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

4d    Just saint directed towards good prayers (8)
EVENSONG A synonym for just, an abbreviated saint, a preposition meaning directed towards and the abbreviation for Good

5d    Flood at home, before unknown disease (6)
INFLUX The usual ‘at home’ and a shortened form of a disease go before a mathematical unknown

6d    Unfeeling second for Mister Big, seizing pawn (9)
IMPASSIVE The second letter in mIster, and a synonym for big, into which is inserted (seizing) the chess abbreviation for Pawn

7d    Island leader demoted: island makes excuse (5)
ALIBI Move the first letter (leader demoted) of an Indonesian island to the end of the word and then add the abbreviation for Island

8d    School spaces filled by conspicuous person (9)
ENLIGHTEN A conspicuous person is inserted between (filled by) two lots of the printer’s unit of measurement for a space the size of an N

9d    Pale Ale, dismissing the French gibe (4)
ASHY The second word of the clue without (dismissing) the French definite article, followed by a gibe

14d    Swelling of belly subsiding when top removed (9)
TUMESCENT A childish word for a stomach (belly) and subsiding or going down without its first letter (top removed)

15d    Supply a boar, elk and a pouched creature (5,4)
KOALA BEAR An anagram (supply) of A BOAR ELK and A

17d    Pick of the bunch? (3,6)
TOP BANANA A cryptic definition of a most important person

18d    Sailor’s dance is long around Navy mess (8)
HORNPIPE A verb meaning to long for goes around the abbreviation for Royal Navy and a mess of printer’s type

21d    Still since regularly excavating atomic mineral (6)
SILICA The regular letters of StIlL sInCe followed by the abbreviation for Atomic

23d    Gardening society’s head ignoring every small flower (5)
RHINE Remove every appearance of the abbreviation for Small from the abbreviation for a gardening society, Is (society‘s) and a headland

24d    Escaped backing welfare age dropping (4)
FLEW Hidden in reverse (backing) in the third word of the clue once you have removed (dropping) the word for a long period of time (age) encountered earlier in the crossword

25d    Vital newspaper employee entered text, perhaps (5)
KEYED Vital or most important and an abbreviated newspaper employee


12 comments on “Toughie 3222
Leave your own comment 

  1. Found this a good deal easier than Serpent’s one yesterday so a rare instance of my solving experience tallying with our reviewer’s difficulty rating (fully expected the just the one *). Not sure I’d have been able to correctly define 14d if I’d seen it out of context but the wordplay was clear & it kind of rang a bell. No particular clue stood out but thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle.
    Thanks to Stick Insect & to CS

    1. I found this much trickier than yesterday’s Serpent which took me about the time as a Thursday backpager. The Stick Insect was a proper Toughie

  2. Flew through this super puzzle in about the same time as today’s backpager, so I evidently tuned-in from the off – not for the first time with this setter. Absolutely loved it, and found myself chuckling at almost every clue. Great surfaces, some ingenious clueing, and yes, knowing some abbreviations certainly helped. That 18d used an alternative spelling for the mess made no difference to me: I hadn’t heard of that mess in any of the three spellings accorded it by the BRB, but fortunately the answer was an obvious biff even before the full clue had been read.

    2* / 5* for me, and I found I had ticks afterwards for the 11a, 20a, 27a, 4d, 6d, & 8d – but my COTD by a short head was the laugh-out-loud 3a.

    Many thanks indeed to Stick Insect for this superb challenge, and to CS for the review.

    1. The only mess I can think of for 18d is as in ‘apple p** bed’. I guess they are connected back in the mists of etymological time.

    2. According to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable it is a printer’s term to describe the mix up of types (as when dropped) or a jumble of letters when a word or sentence is badly printed. It may refer to the mixed ingredients of a xxx or it may come from the assortment of types used in the old xxx or Pre-Reformation books of rules for the prayers of the day, The books were called this because of the colour and confused appearance of the rules which were printed in old black-letter type on white paper thus giving a xxxd appearance

  3. I thought this sat nicely alongside the backpager, with a similar level of difficulty and just as enjoyable. The clueing was neat and nothing seemed out of place. 20a made me laugh and was my favourite this afternoon.

    Thanks to SI and Sue.

  4. A pleasant midweek Toughie – thanks to Sticky and CS.
    I thought that a couple of the surfaces (2d, 24d) didn’t make a great deal of sense.
    I liked 3a and 10a but my overwhelming favourite was 20a.

  5. I have to side with Gazza. Pleasant is undoubtedly the word for this breezy little number. I also totally agree re 2d and 24d. What?! But it’s always nice to see a few old favourites and 28a was jolly – sounds just like my house every summer. Thanks to Stick Insect and Sue.

  6. I was one wavelength from the off today and found this puzzle very doable. For 2d I simply saw anagram material. I’ve never really got my head around the cycling business. Favourite was 9d which took me an age to parse supported by 14d and 17d. Thanks to Stick Insect and Crypticsue.

  7. Found this appreciably more difficult than others seem to have done but it was worth it if only for the spider’s residence!

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to CS for the review – learnt something new in the conspicuous person, thank you.

  8. It took us a while to see where the central letter for 23d came from and there were two possible flowers we could see before that was settled.
    Enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Stick Insect and CS.

Join the Conversation, Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.